With the current job scarcity in Uganda, it is important that everyone equips themselves with a skill to supplement their education. This could be tailoring, knitting, motor vehicle maintenance or any other skill that one could use to earn an additional income.
This is what Stephen Mbugwa is doing, the former secondary school teacher, says ever since he ventured into vocational studies and training his life has been the same.
“I joined vocational teaching after attaining my Bachelors in Education, though I had not initially trained in vocational teaching when I interested myself in the field, I found it life changing. There is nothing that gives me pleasure than seeing my students’ lives changing magically for the better shortly after the training,” he says.
Born in 1975 to Frank and Jessica Kibuuka, Mbugwa attended Namilyango College and Lubiiri Secondary School. In 1994, he joined Kyambogo University for a Diploma in Education which he completed in I996. Immediately after, he started teaching at Namilyango Senior Secondary School and Mukono Parents High School as a Fine Art teacher.
He says he always loved creativity a reason he found teaching Fine Art interesting.
In 2005, Mbugwa enrolled for a Bachelors of Education at Kyambogo University which took him two years.
When he completed his bachelors, an old boy from his school interested him in vocational training.
“My friend had started up a vocational training school in Seeta and asked me to partner with him, since I had a background in Fine Art, I found this interesting,” he recalls.
And within a short time, Mbugwa says he started interesting himself in simple vocational courses and he attained the necessary skills since he had the interest.
However, he also enrolled for an assessment training package at Uganda Private Vocational Training Institution which helped prepare him further for vocational training.
Currently, Mbugwa is the principal director at Baroma Vocational Training Institute in Mukono, which is partly government-aided.
Though he is now more into managerial activities, he says this has not stopped him from getting involved in training students.
“I go to the several departments and follow as students are learning, where possible I also train because I have passion for teaching,” he says.
Mbugwa says there is still a challenge of people looking at vocational studies as the last option. He notes that most people who come to enrol for the courses are those with poor grades who cannot be admitted to other institutions of higher learning such as universities.
To him, vocational training institutions also need students with good grades so that as they train students who will ably do trustworthy work.
“People in vocational institutions are handling sensitive work and this requires intelligent people. Can you imagine entrusting somebody who scored the worst grades in Physics to repair your car!” he wonders.
He also calls upon parents to interest their children in vocational training so that we can get a generation that can find jobs easily as well as create their own.
“The problem that we still face is that most parents believe that if their children do not go through university, then they are not learned,” he says.
Field of misconceptions
Although vocational studies is fulfilling, people look at it as the last resort. Most people who enrol for these courses are those with poor grades who cannot be admitted to other institutions of higher learning yet vocational institutions also need people with good grades. It is high time students with better grades interested themselves in learning these skills to bring to an end that misconception.”
What they say about him
“He is a mentor who has helped many of us learn. He is so passionate in vocational training and even though he is the head, he always extends help.”
“I am a graduate in Land Surveying but I enrolled for a simple course in Decoration which I have found so useful. This I did after he advised me to. This has helped me to do something I am passionate about.