A total of 34.8 per cent of Uganda’s 34.6 million population are adolescents, according to 2017 statistics by United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) but also the highest youth unemployment rates in Sub- Saharan Africa. Additionally, these teenagers are faced with challenges of identity, self-awareness, teenage pregnancy, drug addictions among other things.
It is on the backdrop of all these alarming issues that Teenagers Doing Great Things (TDGT), a teenage led secondary school students’ movement organised a three day holiday makers’ boot camp at the Uganda Museum to tackle issues of character and other life skills.
Like many teenagers, Keisha Kego, a senior four leaver from Viva College did not think that at her age, she would do anything constructive with the little money she sometimes has. However, among sessions the teenagers had from facilitators at the camp was on character, money matters and business. She already has a plan.
“Personally, I have a passion for doing business but I also love cooking,” she says.
Kego hopes to capitalise on her passion in cooking to start a fast food business.
“Every month, I will save the pocket money that my dad gives me and once I total it up, I can start a hot dog business. I will invest in the equipment I need, the food stuffs and run the business myself,” she plans. She also knows that though money is useful, it can be destructive to people and teenagers like her.
“Sometimes, I experience confusion about my passions from my peers, society, my parents, and school but now I have more belief in my passions and the small things I do that can push me to become something and to reach my full potential,” she noted adding that many teenagers are struggling with a number of issues of self-esteem, pursuing their passions, stress, conflict with parents, drugs among others and attending such forums can help them overcome these challenges.
On the other hand, Mark Trevor Kamukama, senior four leaver, St. Mary’s College Kisubi was set once again on the path of a dream he has had for a while now.
“My friend and I have thought about making a battery saving application – a battery booster. Everyone works on phones and laptops now days, so a battery booster will definitely be a good idea.”
He adds that people have come up with applications the world never thought we would exist thus, it is possible for them to innovate, regardless of age.
Kamukama says enthusiastically that moving forward, he plans to dedicate some of his time to be able to develop that since computer and ICT are some of the things he wants to do.
Rhona Nantege Kyewalabye (senior vacation) Agha Khan High School shares that her biggest take away was about teenagers using the internet in more constructive ways than just texting and posting pictures.
“To widen my knowledge and build on what I want to be in future (journalist), I plan to capitalize on the many things I can do on the internet.”
Solving teenage challenges
Romeo Kawuma a senior four leaver from King’s College Buddo shared that to help solve some of the challenges teenagers face, parents should freely talk about career choices with their children instead of simply dominating and influencing them. “I for example have a friend who wants to do architecture but his mother wants him to do medicine. When he told them about what he wanted to do, they told him to find his own source of school fees. So, sometimes parents and the public pushes the teenagers too hard causing us to do things that lead into defiant behaviour,” he explains.
At the same time, he urges teenagers to set goals, especially during these long holidays. “We you wake up in the morning, take a shower and its December but you have nothing to do, when your friends say; let’s go here, you will go. But if you have your life and days planned, you won’t be that kind of person who just goes anywhere and everywhere, things that can lead you into wrong company and behaviour,” he tips.
Other holiday activities
Kampala Music School also had a two week holiday program for children between 5 -14, for both beginner and advances classes that covered rhythm games, singing, instrumentation and dance. The program was run between December 10-22 is is bent to happen again in January 14 at the Kampala Music School. Such programs provide opportunities for children to learn skills but to keep them occupied during he school holidays.
Additionally, the Young Engineers Uganda had a five day Bricksmas Science and Tech Camp on December 17 -21 for children between 4- 15 years, but more specifically targeting primary seven leavers in fields of; Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM).
These are bound to have another holiday programme dubbed the Children Innovation and Creativity Holiday Program on January 07.