What you need to know:
Despite the challenges, a number of vulnerable people who accessed vocational education and training attained personal success.
In the eighth Annual Report on the State of Equal Opportunities in Uganda (FY 2020/2021) released recently by the Equal Opportunities Commission, 87.9 per cent of the respondents confirmed availability of a Business Technical Vocational Education Training (BTVET) institution within their district.
This demonstrates governments unequivocal commitment to skills development, especially for the rural areas, which is an instrument of empowerment through the acquisition of appropriate skills at all levels of training especially for the vulnerable individuals and groups.
BTVET Act, No. 12, 2008; Section four provides for principles and concepts upon which BTVET in Uganda shall be based and one of them under 4(h) is to increase equitable access to BTVET by disadvantaged groups such as women and persons with disabilities.
However, further analysis showed that majority of the vulnerable groups (59.3 per cent) had not attended vocational education and training as opposed to 41.7 percent that had attended. Most of the vocational institutions were located far from respondent’s homes. The majority of respondents (40.3 per cent) reported that students moved a distance of more than 10km to the nearest vocational institution.
In terms of sex representation, the report revealed that more males (55.7 percent) had attended BTVET as compared to 44.3 percent of the females. Inability to meet the cost of fees (44.8 percent), lack of disability-friendly institutions (11.5 percent) and pregnancy related issues (11 percent) were the major reasons cited for the gender gap in accessing BTVET.
Regarding the tuition structure, specifically payment of tuition fees, 26.7 percent of the students that attended vocational training paid between Shs300,001 to Shs400,000 per term, followed by 23.8 per cent that paid between Shs500,001 to Shs650,000 per term and 15 per cent paid between Shs400,001 to Shs500,000 respectively. The vulnerable groups found this to be expensive and even unaffordable for the majority that would have benefited from this initiative of Government.
Regarding inclusion of persons with disability (PWDs) in vocational training, 63.9 per cent reported that there was inclusion of PWDs in the vocational institutions. This shows that Uganda has continued to make significant progress towards the realization of inclusive education across levels of education. On the other hand, 34.8 per cent of the respondents stated that persons with disabilities are excluded from vocational education and training due to challenges such as infrastructural barriers and lack of appropriate training and learning aids and equipment for PWDs.
Despite the challenges, a number of vulnerable people that had accessed vocational education and training had attained personal success. About 54.5 per cent have started personal businesses after completing the training. This is confirmation that government is on track in meeting the BTVET objective of skilling vulnerable and marginalized individuals to aid their productivity and increase their incomes.
On the other hand, 45.5 per cent of respondents that had attended and completed a BTVET course had not put the knowledge and skills attained to use. A big mind set issue relating to job seeking as opposed to job creation that needs to be changed.
Notably, some of the BTVET vocations do not pay profitably, however the BTVET graduates who had started their personal businesses (39.4 per cent) earned between Shs150,000 and Shs200,000 which implies that given a chance to grow, they could become profitable. The BTVET initiative has also met other challenges along the way most critical of which is the absence such institutions in some districts such as Nwoya which has 11 sub-counties with no BTVET institution.
Jane Ekapu Nakyanzi is the Ag Secretary to the Equal Opportunities Commission