Tuesday January 30 2018

Options for vocational education after primary

Students of Uganda Technical Institute,

Students of Uganda Technical Institute, Bushenyi, during a lecture recently. File PHOTO 

By Desire Mbabaali

Gone are the days when those who failed to make it to secondary school because of the high school fees gave up on education. Today, one needs not despair but join a vocational institution.
“Taking this route means that a student will study a vocational course of their choice for the next three years (with three terms per year) and at the end of the course, attain a certificate equivalent to a Senior Four certificate. In addition, such a student will also have practical skills in their field of study, very able to be employed or create their own jobs,” Robert Emitu Odutu, the principal Masuulita Vocational Training Institute in Wakiso District, says.
He further notes that the government offers scholarships to students who have Aggregate 28 and above, so they just pay a little amount to cater for a few requirements during their course of study.
“Though we recommend all interested students to enroll, these courses are favourable to students from financially humble backgrounds,” Emitu notes.

Humble beginnings
William Ojok is one of the students who enrolled for a carpentry course at Apac Technical School directly after Primary Seven.
“I knew that my family did not have any more money to further my education since I had other siblings who needed to go through primary school,” Ojok says. During his Primary Seven vacation, he kept chicken to be able to fund his vocational course.
“I did not want to sit at home doing nothing. I wanted to have a skill. Something that would help me earn a little money to help my family. I am currently in my final year, and I am able to make furniture for schools and other people,” he says.
However, taking this route is not only for people like Ojok. Any person can enroll.
Hope Nakato Nalukwata got aggregate seven after that she joined a community polytechnic to be groomed into a mechanical engineer and she has so far finished her first year.
“This is going to be achieved after five years of learning and attachments to special workshops, firms and garages other than six years of high school. After those years, I will have a certificate from Uganda Business and Technical Examinations Board,” Nakato says.
But that is not all, Nakato is not limited by options. She can to enroll for a diploma or a bachelor’s in Engineering, mechanical, ICT, Automobile, Management, Clearing and forwarding, among others.
Encouragingly, Emitu emphasises that after attaining a certificate one can always upgrade whenever they deem fit. “Some people fear that when they go for vocational studies, they won’t be able to upgrade. That is not true. One can be able to upgrade even up to doctorate level.

About the courses
Patrick Ejok, the principal Hakitengya Community Polytechnic, says there are two categories on which students can be admitted to these courses.
For students with good grades, government offers scholarships which means they pay little money (for utilities and food) or no money at all, according to the institute they enroll into.
“The other category are the private students who pay a fairly higher amount. Then we have students in day section and those in boarding section. The payment for these also differs.” he says.