By Edith Bagenda, Uganda
Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) plays a central role in preparing young people for work; developing the skills of adults; and responding to labour market needs of the economy. Although the government of Uganda has embarked on several skills training initiatives to empower youth, there still exists the absence of an effective partnership between government, institutions and industry to ensure that learning is well connected with the world of work.
I am happy to note that positive changes are happening at TexFad, a Ugandan organization for handwoven textiles, as a result of my having participated in the TVET Trainer Development Program sponsored by Australia Awards Africa and implemented by QUT in partnership with TAFE Queensland. As part of my Re-integration Action Plan, and with input from the apparel industry and the Directorate of Industrial Training (DIT), I developed an Occupational Standard for Apparel and Home Furnishings as well as a training program that were to be piloted at TexFad.
COVID-19 notwithstanding, 20 girls with no formal education have acquired both technical and soft skills.
Upon my return from Australia, I went about transforming the training methodology at TexFad using the occupational standard to guide training. I started by identifying students’ learning needs so as to make my training learner-centred. Since then, I have adopted several applied learning principles such as sharing knowledge; connecting with industry; and using assessment methods that best suit the learning content and context.
COVID-19 notwithstanding, 20 girls with no formal education have acquired both technical and soft skills. These are vulnerable students sponsored by Skill-Up Program, an initiative of Uganda Small Scale Industries Association in partnership with GTZ. On successful completion of the skills training, the girls undertook practical assessment by the DIT using non-formal assessment criteria that awards them with a formal certification. This is the first-time assessment has taken place at TexFad, and now the girls are just waiting to receive their certificates. This is also an opportunity for the girls to up-skill to formal education if they so desire. Five girls have so far been absorbed in the work place!
The occupational standard will be shared with DIT and other TVET providers in Uganda for possible replication thereby improving the quality of training and hence increasing employability chances of disadvantaged youth and women.