To Samuel Businde Saalongo, 38, nothing gives him more satisfaction than meeting technicians doing good work from institutions he has served in.
Born to Edward Saalongo and Joyce Kalema, Businde is the principal, Lady Aidah Computer Based Institute of Fashion Design and Technology in Wakiso, and also patron Uganda Association of Private Vocational Institutions (UGAPRIVI) Kampala District chapter. He is also a duly registered technical instructor.
Businde studied at Kezekiya Memorial Primary School in Rakai from 1987 to 93, then joined Kibaale Community Secondary School for O-Level and completed in 1999 with Aggregate 28.
“In 2000, I joined Kammengo Technical Institute with a goal to be a water engineer. I studied plumbing. This was a course least known to us by then but I was attracted to it because the sector was fast developing in Uganda,” Businde says. After he completed his Advanced level (Craft part Il) in 2003, and because he was an active student, the principal of the school then, (Charles Ebong) offered him an opportunity to start teaching. I eagerly accepted and he sent me to Kabira Technical Institute-Bushenyi in August 2003. “Young as I was, I went out ready to teach plumbing before our exams were even released,” he recalls.
Since then, Businde never looked back but instead appreciated it more. “Teaching was very flexible. I even had time to get simple contracts of installing water in some buildings within Kabira and Ishaka Town as I trained students at the institute,” he says.
In 2005, he decided to go back to school but this time to train as a teacher. He enrolled for an in-service Technical Teachers Education programme at Kal Institute of Technical Teacher Education (KaLIOTTE) where he got a certificate that made him register as a qualified teacher.
In 2008, he joined the Royal Institute of Technical Teacher Education to head the department of plumbing and later on, was appointed deputy principal to coordinate academics and skills training at the institute.
In 2009, Businde joined Kampala Polytechnic, Mengo to upgrade with a Diploma in Water Engineering for two years and in 2015 asked to serve as a visiting principal at Uganda Children’s Centre Vocational and Technical Institute on Salaama Road.
Through the ranks
Businde notes that growing through the ranks in vocational education requires thorough knowledge about the dynamics in the sector but he says he was able to do this because he had committed mentors who helped him actualise the leadership roles and as well as teaching. “Simon Kisasa, the former Uganda National Examinations Board deputy executive secretary and Emmanuel Bampiigga, the former national chairman UGAPRIVI, are the people who have continuously modelled me,” he confesses.
“In leading and training, I aim at seeing people who go through my hands able to apply the skills acquired but also able to upgrade their studies. My core task is to make them get more informed so as to equally compete with the challenges in the world of work,” says Businde.
Though one of the most evident challenges of vocational education in the country is the negative attitude by both parents and students especially due to lack of sensitisation, Businde is proud that more people, even professors have started to understand the impact of vocational education at all levels.
It is also against this backdrop that he established a voluntary organisation; Change Education Attitude, Uganda, that goes around the country sensitising Ugandans, parents in particular, to embrace and harness vocational education.
“We make them appreciate that vocational education is purposeful because it introduces the students directly to the world of work and opens doors for advancing,” says Businde.
Being a leader in a private vocational institute, he says, they encounter several challenges including, low enrollment of students, heavy taxes in procuring training materials, equipment and tools; and low fees charged by schools which makes running of these institutions difficult.
“This results into poor remuneration which affects skills training and might lead to passing out incompetent personnel. Additionally, the public has not yet accepted that one can progressively go through technical education right from community polytechnic up to PhD,” he notes.
Furthermore, Businde believes it is everyone’s role to support Business Technical Vocational Education and Training (BTVET) by sensitising the public to realise the potential value in it. “I implore all of us to appreciate that the only way to fight unemployment and poverty out of Uganda is in BTVET,” Businde implores.
1987-1993. Studied at Kezekiya Memorial Primary School in Rakai.
1999. Completed O-Level with Aggregate 28.
2000. Joined Kammengo Technical Institute.
2003. Completed his Advanced level (Craft part Il).
2003. Started teaching at Kabira Technical Institute-Bushenyi in August.
2005. Returned to school to train as a teacher.
2008. Joined the Royal Institute of Technical Teacher Education.
2009. Joined Kampala Polytechnic, Mengo for a diploma.
2015. Started serving as visiting principal at Uganda Children’s Centre Vocational and Technical Institute.