Vocational training an alternative for university education

By Esther Oluka

The best gift a parent can give a child is an education, a common adage goes. Usually, this kind of education is expected to be academics based. But for one reason or another, not everyone gets a chance to attain a formal education.
Most are denied the chance of advancing their education because of limited resources.
For Aisha Bahati, her dreams of finishing school were shattered several years back after dropping out of Top Care Primary School in Jinja District because her parents lacked enough money to pay for her education. Bahati was only able to study up to Primary Three before dropping out.
“Since my mother was a hair dresser, she slowly incorporated me into the (hairdressing) field by teaching me how to plait different hairstyles including braids and dreadlocks,” she says.
Over the next years, Bahati who is visually impaired mastered her art and today, she works in a salon in Nsambya, a Kampala suburb. Today, the 22-year-old is known as the blind hairdresser.

Short courses
Eve Namugaya, an administrator at Jimmy Sekasi Institute in Mpigi District, says if one has not been able to advance in education, but still has the finances, they can opt for specialised certificates in different courses.
“Anyone can be accommodated for these courses as they do not even need Senior Four or Senior Six qualifications. In the end, they are able to attain the required skills and compete favourably in the job market,” she says.
Some of the specialised courses at Jimmy Sekasi Institute, include Fashion and Design, Cookery, Hair Dressing and Beauty Therapy.
There are other options to consider as well including enrolling for short courses that take one to two months of study, for example, baking, computer maintenance, among others.

Similarly, Didas Atamwesigire, the director Spice Institute in Bushenyi District, says neither staying home nor getting married are ideal solutions when one is incapable of advancing their education.
“Without skills, you will not progress in life. It is important that you acquire knowledge in a particular field so that you can establish a personal business and are able to earn some money and put food on the table,” he says.
Some of the vocational courses Atamwesigire advises individuals to study include tourism and hotel management, tailoring and early childhood education.
Embedding skills in other subjects
In learning institutions such as Raymond Vocational Secondary School in Mubende District which has classes from Senior One to Senior Four, students are required to take up any practical course of their choice alongside other subjects.
“This is intended to expand their abilities. In case they fail to get jobs in the competitive market, they have the alternative of starting a personal business by applying the practical skills and knowledge they obtained in the practical course,” George Tugume, the head teacher, says.
Some of the practical courses offered at the school include bee keeping, building, crafts making, farming, carpentry, electrical installation, among others.
In addition, Remmy Anguyi, the academic registrar at Global Institute of Information Technology and Business, in Makerere says the advantage with practical training is that it gives the essence of attaining skills and implementing them in the community by either being self-employed or working in technical firms.
For individuals who have never attained any level of formal education, that is, Anguyi says they can receive training in English proficiency skills where they are taught basic levels of communication in the language so that it becomes easier for them to communicate with clients when they become either employers or employees.


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