BY UGANDA VANGUARD
NAMUGONGO – Government has been told to emphasize vocational education as means of reducing unemployment especially among the youth estimated at over 80 percent. According to Elizabeth Muhanga, the director, Blue Print Primary School, the current theoretical subjects taught has led to universities and tertiary institutions produce unemployable graduates.
“We need to emphasize teaching practical skills in schools than the current theory. By the time a child leaves primary, secondary or university, the person should be able produce an item for sell,” she said.
If we are to achieve Uganda’s desired goal of middle income status, we needs skills not just education, said Muhanga during the open day of the school in Namugongo on Saturday.
Pupils displayed to parent skills the learned at school in baking, poultry, netting and liquid soap making among others.
In the recent past, people have come to believe that education is the key, but having skills is the master key. In a bid to skill the Ugandan population therefore, the government launched the Business, Technical and Vocational Education and Training (BTVET) Strategic Plan 2011 – 2020 also known as Skilling Uganda.
According to the Strategic Plan, Skilling Uganda was to represent a paradigm shift for skills development in Uganda, enhance productivity and growth with a main purpose of creating employable skills and competencies relevant in the labour market.
“We wanted to emphasise a paradigm shift. For a long time in our education system, people have treasured university certificates but in the end, it is not all about the certificate but the competencies in skills based training,” Hajjat Safina Musenne, the commissioner BTVET, explains noting that they have registered progress doing this.
Among things that the strategy aimed at doing was to allow one to two-year courses, a module system, evening hours trainings, weekend training, but also open to everyone; employed and unemployed regardless of their education background and age. It also envisioned a close partnership with private institutions.
Progress so far
Among the objectives of the strategy was institution-building in which Musenne believes they have made considerable progress with government injecting more than Shs200b in construction of new ones and renovation of old ones. Though the plan is to build and renovate 25 technical institutions, Musenne notes, “we have constructed technical institutions in Namataba, Lwengo, Namutumba, and renovated some in Iganga, Mubende, Kiryandongo, Institute of Allied Health and Management Sciences in Nyakatare.” Under the same arrangement, government secured funding to establish centres of excellence at Uganda Technical Colleges Lira, Elgon, Bushenyi and Bukalasa Agricultural College and the Fisheries Institute.
As for teacher/instructor training, Abilonino Teacher Training School, formerly a polytechnic college was commissioned last year becoming the only provider of pre-service training for technical, teachers and instructors for the BTVET system. This is helped by Nakawa Vocational Institute and Jinja Vocational Training Institute.