Since 2014, we have been involved in three areas of tertiary education/vocational training providing sponsorship to one student from each of our secondary schools, once they have completed their O Levels (S4). Across the board, head teachers, teachers and students see nursing and midwifery as an extremely good option to secure a worthwhile rewarding career, with very good future prospects either within the government or private sector, both at home in Uganda and in Africa as a whole. Thus, this is their preferred option. It must be noted that it is the most expensive.
Teacher training and the teaching profession are also seen to give good future careers, but not as good as medicine. Presently government policy from the MoES (Ministry of Education and Sports) does still allow P7/PLE pupils to apply to go to teacher training college but the reality is that their applications are ignored as there are enough O Level (S4) applicants to fill the vacancies at the Primary Training Colleges (PTCs) each year. It is expected, in the future, that the government will only allow secondary school candidates to apply, but that is not official policy yet. It is also presumed to be slightly “infra dig” to apply to become a primary school teacher if you have completed O levels, (USE), though we do wonder how many young students regret not taking the opportunity to go on to a teaching career, especially if HvSMF is sponsoring them. This is the cheapest option.
As for vocational training, in the minds of young aspirational O level (USE) candidates, courses such as plumbing etc. are seen to be beneath them. But after their results are known, or their parents realise they are unable to fund their children through A Level, those same students may have to follow a lesser career path. Vocational skills are very much needed as Uganda develops, though it is not seen to be the career of choice
One point to note is that, once O levels have been completed, there is a shortage of students eligible or wanting the various courses offered to them. This is because their O level results are such that they are able to continue to A level and few drop out between O and A level. The grades required for nursing, and to a lesser degree PTC, are very close to the grades required to go on to A Level, so the group of candidates across our secondary schools, that still have an interest with these initiatives, is small. This small group must also still have the correct grades to apply. Our head teachers are getting better at preparing their students for interviews when applying for sponsorships.
We chose the Iganga Technical Institute (ITI). We had 5 students, 4 males and 1 female, who all completed a 3 year course, at a cost of £1,847 per student, including tuition fees and life support costs, finishing in December 2017. The courses undertaken were:
- Motor Vehicle Mechanics x 2
- Electrical x 1
- Plumbing x 2
These students graduated in July 2018 and we know that all five students are now employed, thus their lives and their families, will be greatly improved.
Graduation photo for the 2015 initiative
We chose the Primary Training College (PTC). Again, this was for 5 students, 3 males and 2 females, who all completed a two year course, at a cost of £850 per student, including tuition fees and life support. We felt that teacher training was more in keeping with the ethos of the charity and maybe one day some students will return to teach at an HvSMF primary school. Their course finished in December 2017. All gained a B grade pass and, as at August 2018, all were employed therefore providing a better future for themselves and their families.
Students from the 2015 initiative
We chose the St Eliza School of Nursing and Midwifery. The 2.5 year certificate course began in May 2017 with 6 students (5 females and 1 male), one from each of our secondary schools, at a cost of £3,327 per student, again including tuition fees and life support costs. This course is 100% boarding for all students. Only 20% of the intake is male because the midwifery course is for girls only. The nursing is open to both sexes. Each student needs an O level certificate with passes in English, Maths, Physics, Chemistry and Biology for either course. A high % find work on completion spread across government and private hospitals, military, pharmacies and drug stores. This intake completed their course and graduated in December 2019, results were expected February 2020. Due to Covid – 19 little is known and as of middle March 2020 the college was closed. As of May 2021 the course is still affected by the Pandemic. Our 6 students all passed their courses but are unable to follow their chosen careers until they have graduated and received their official reports and diplomas. It is hoped that their graduations will take place sometime during 2021.
Students at St Eliza School of Nursing and Midwifery. Girls are all on mid-wifery course, boy on nursing course.
Again we chose St Eliza School of Nursing and Midwifery. The second 2.5 year certificate course began in May 2018 with 6 students (4 males and 2 females), at a cost of £3,367 per student. This intake should complete in December 2020, with results expected in February 2021.
Due to Covid-19 the course was halted between March and October 2020. These 6 students returned on the 19th October 2020 and successfully took their final exams during March 2021. As of May 2021 they are awaiting their results and a graduation date, hopefully later this year.
We returned to the Iganga Technical Institute (ITI) largely as a result of the smaller amount of funding required. Thus in February 2019, 6 students (3 females and 3 males), started a 2 year certificate course, costing £1,696 per student. This may turn into 3 years, to include the advanced Certificate Course for 1 year. However, the course will be cheaper than nursing. Courses undertaken were:
- Motor Vehicle Mechanics x 1
- Plumbing x 3
- Electrical x 1
- Fashion & Design x 1
The students were due to graduate in December 2020. Due to Covid – 19 the course was halted in March 2020. On the 19th October 2020 these 6 students were allowed to return in order to complete their course. They had two terms remaining and had hoped to graduate in May 2021. Unfortunately, due to the lack of lessons during 2020, 5 students failed a number of exam papers, they have to be retaken for them to pass and complete their course. In May 2021 HvSMF paid the required £162 for them to complete their retake papers in July 2021.
Our 6 supported students on the 2019 initiative.
Again we returned to the Iganga Technical Institute (ITI). 5 new students, supported by HvSMF, started their course in February 2020. This course was due to end December 2021, probably now it will finish in December 2022. The courses undertaken by 3 males and 2 females were:
- Motor Vehicle Mechanics x 2
- Electrical x 3
Due to Covid – 19 ITI closed early March 2020 and term 1 of this course resumed in March 2021. Term 2 started on the 26th April 2021. Unfortunately during the Covid year one female student became pregnant and moved away. One male student, an orphan, during the lockdown period started to work collecting sugar cane to earn cash. His guardian has confirm that he will not be returning. Very sad that these two have walked away from an excellent opportunity in life, one of the tragic side effects of the pandemic. More information regarding this course to follow shortly.
Secondary Teachers’ Training College
During the 2019 AGM meeting, Ed Browne (HvSMF trustee) asked if there was a secondary teachers’ training college and might we consider sponsoring students?
A levels are a requirement for anyone wishing to join a national teacher college (NTC) or university. A diploma in secondary education takes 2 years and a bachelor’s degree in secondary education takes 3 years. The overall cost for a 3 year course (including course fees and life support) would be approximately £5,500 per person, therefore this is not something we would be considering at this stage. Presently there is a proposal in the Ugandan parliament to phase out primary teaching colleges (PTCs) and NTCs. If approved, the starting point for teachers in Uganda will be the degree level and this will be in about ten years, so this period will give a chance to the existing nursery, primary and secondary teachers with a diploma to upgrade themselves to the degree level.
As to the way forward, no decisions have been taken for any new 2021/2022 vocational initiatives. This will depend on Covid – 19 and funding.
Updated May 2021