Tuesday March 6 2018

Extending study period for vocational studies good step

 Students get hands-on mechanical skills

Students get hands-on mechanical skills. It does not help for a student to graduate while lacking the basic skills needed to either be employed or start their own businesses. File PHOTOS 

By Desire Mbabaali

Mid last year, the National Council for Higher Education made a move to remove all one year post ordinary level certificates from a training period of one year to two years. This meant that all students from O-level (Senior Four) pursuing a certificate in vocational, business or technical studies, in various vocational, technical and business institutions now study for two years instead of one.
“Effective 2018, all vocational, business and Technical institutions under assessment from Uganda Business and Technical Examination Board (UBTEB) – the statutory national assessment body of business, technical and vocational institutions are to conform to the arrangement,” Sandra Murungi, an instructor at YWCA notes.

However, as Institutions move to extend their training periods, what have been the implications of this to institutions, students and parents?
Daniel Kazibwe, a student at Management Training and Advisory Center (MTAC), Nakawa, is positive that the extension of the course will surely produce better results.

Good step
“I believe we are more privileged than our colleagues who did the one-year course. I believe there is surely a lot more we will learn which would not have been possible in one year. I believe the sylabus will be covered thoroughly this time around,” he says.

“It is good that I joined this semester aware that the course will now take two years. I believe it would have been more challenging if I were half way into finishing and graduating and then told I had to do an extensional year. So, to me, I think it is a great step,” Kazibwe emphasises.

On the contrary, Ann Mary Nakuya, a business student at Multitech Business school says though the extension of the post ordinary level certificate is good, it also comes with a few challenges.
“Some of us pay our own tuition. For others, parents face many challenging financial situations. This means that if I was planning to struggle and keep myself in school for only one year, now I have two years to look at,” she notes with concern.

She, however, says extending the training period to two years might be advantageous since there is enough time now to learn.
On the other hand, Hashim Mohammed Kirya, a parent, says he does not know whether the responsible bodies or individual institutions have the two-year curriculum ready, now that studies are ongoing.

“Also, are there new things they plan to add that are relevant to the learning and skills development of the students? Both students and parents need the assurance that the extension will produce better and real results. We need to see value for this additional time,” Kirya argues.

“So far, there has been total compliance from institutions, and those institutions that have not complied are importers. So far we are working with many institutions, from this intake, the curriculum has been reviewed, and it is a done deal,” he says.
He also mentions that some of the benefits that will come with the two year post ordinary level certificate is, “It does away with the disadvantages of the one year certificate. It is an equivalent to A-Level - which the one year course didn’t offer,” he said adding that the one year certificate did not also have a policy and legal backing, whereas the two year certificate will do.
“Students with the one year certificate couldn’t be employed by public service, putting them at a disadvantage,” Oyesigye says.
He also noted that after this, UBTEB will be carrying out reforms by revisiting existing frame works to ensure competence based training. Onesmus Oyesigye, Ubteb executive secretary

What is vocational education?
Vocational education is traditionally non-academic in nature and specific to a particular trade, occupation or vocation. Because it is vocation based, it is called vocational education.
Until the end of the twentieth century, vocational education focused on specific trades such as automobile mechanic or welder and was, therefore, associated with the low social classes. This explains the stigma vocational education suffers and is battling to overcome.