PHOTOS: Mbarara Municipal School Launches Vocational Skills Program, the First at Primary Level

Bishop Sheldon Mwesigwa and other officials observe as a pupil demonstrates how liquid soap is made.

The Ministry of Education and Sports has launched the vocational skills training program at the Mbarara Municipal School in Mbarara, the very first such program to be rolled out at Primary School level in Uganda.

The program was launched on Saturday during a thanksgiving and dedication service for Primary Seven (P.7) candidates at All Saints Church archdeaconry in Mbarara.

Mbarara Municipal School, a government-aided school has an enrollment of 3,948 pupils, 1,947 of whom are males and 2,001 females.

Samuel Bagombeka, the Senior Education Officer from the Ministry of Education represented the Minister of Education, Janet Museveni at the launch.

Bagombeka commended the school for the program and said government will us it as a benchmark.

“I have been taken around and sincerely I am dumbfounded. I think we shall always come to benchmark from you because this is what we call TVET (technical, vocational, education and training), the only way to go,” Bagombeka said.

He summarized TVET as 4Ts (teach the mind, train the hands, touch the heart and transform the world).

He challenged the pupils at the school to fully utilize the program and ensure they acquire a skill during the training.

“Everybody is busy here. There is no room for redundancy. You are now running a duo curriculum like Germany. I know you (pupils) are going to pass your exams and I expect every pupil to participate. Don’t leave here without a skill,” Bagombeka urged the learners.

He said that most developed nations do prosper because their people have skills.

“All countries that are developed have developed because of skills and their people do and those that are in developing countries are just consumers instead of being producers,” Bagombeka explained.

He says the challenge with Uganda and other developing countries is having more graduates at the top and few artisans, craftsmen at the bottom.

Bagombeka encouraged all Ugandans to embrace the PVET system to acquire skills to sustain their livelihoods.

“Without a skill you are not going to survive and skills are not only for the young people, all of us are eligible to learn. Don’t say you are too old to learn” said Bagombeka

He asked the school management to collaborate with government to make the school a centre of benchmarking vocational skills in all the primary schools in the country.

“Continue constructing more buildings because you are going to be overwhelmed by numbers since we are all going to bring our children here,” Bagombeka said

Patrick Byakatonda, the Director of Industrial Taining said the Ministry is designing a lower secondary curriculum for vocational skills which will be an extension of the Primary School training program.

“The Greeks say if you don’t teach your children skills, you are teaching them to steal,” said Byakatonda.

The head teacher of Mbarara Municipal School, Martin Kananura says the desire to have a vocational program started in 2011 with a need to keep pupils in boarding school all round by training the head, the hands and the heart.

The program started with baking, tailoring, knitting, art and design. The objective was to train Ugandans especially the youths to develop life skills which could make them to job makers rather than job seekers.

Kananura says the program is costly, time consuming especially when it comes to balancing the schedule for theoretical (normal) curriculim and the vocational training.

He reminded the government of its pledge to the school  to construct a classroom block at the school. The pledge was made by President Yoweri Museveni while visiting the school a few months ago.

Kananura says the school is already overwhelmed with numbers and that there is no room for expansion.

During the dedication service, Kananura thanked the teachers for working tirelessly to maintain academic excellence.

At the same event, the Ankole diocese Bishop, Dr. Sheldon Mwesigwa advised the P.7 candidates to desist from exam malpractice such as cheating which he said deprives Uganda of good future leaders.

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