Female students of Tasaaga East Africa Secondary and Vocational schools have asked the government of to implement career and technical education in schools to help students get job creating skills which they believe will improve their standards of living even if they fail to join the university.
The girls expressed their views while celebrating this year’s International Women’s day on March 8, which was celebrated under the theme: Break the Bias at their school in Sitabaale village, Busukuma Sub County in Wakiso district. The school had “Tasaaga Educates girls to be future leaders” as the day’s theme.
Maria Babirye a senior two student said “I would like the government to implement vocational training in all schools because having skills like tailoring, hairdressing and carpentry gives us hope if school gets tough especially with hardships in getting school fees as most of our parents are poor.” She said,
Angel Nabirye, also a student at this school, suggested that the government make school programs where influential people visit schools and counsel students. She said listening to inspirational people speak will remind students of the great importance of education in their lives.
”Women activists should visit schools and remind girls of their rights because many young girls don’t know them and this has been used as an opportunity by oppressors to abuse girls and women. Some people still believe education and leadership are not for us,” She said
She also echoed her colleagues and asked the government to help provide equipment to schools that have fewer materials so as to create equal opportunities for both girls and boys.
Bulhan Mubiru, the founder and Executive director of Tasaaga schools revealed that they added vocational training in skills like carpentry, hairdressing and tailoring to produce students who will not get a hard time in making it in life.
“We chose those three skills because they are marketable. For instance, even if the student stays in this village after their education, they will get opportunities to put these skills to use, he said.
The school prioritizes girls because most of the parents in their area still have the bias of educating women. Bulhan said parents could willingly pay school fees for the boys which was and still is a different case with the girls.
“We have joined in the celebrations of the International Women’s Day because we want to break the bias together. We need to treat boys and girls equally because what boys can do, even girls can do. This is why give equal opportunities to all of them to practice carpentry, hairdressing and tailoring though some parents and students still have the bias. They still believe carpentry is for men while the other two skills are for girls.” He added.
With the help of friends of tasaaga, a non government organization in the United Kingdom, the school has managed to get some street children to school. “We have managed to reach out to these boys through football because many enjoy the sport. We bring them and grant them free education with help from friends of Tasaaga.
Last year, the government introduced changes to the secondary curriculum with the view to integrating vocational education. Due to the COVID lockdown, roll out of the curriculum has delayed. Also the absence of teachers with competencies in delivering vocational skills has been cited as another obstacle in the curriculum’s implementation.
Isa Ssenkumba, a teacher and one of the directors of London high Kabowa, Kampala however argues that there is bias among parents and students and students against vocational skills.
He argues that for schools to implement vocational education, the government has to sensitize the public about the importance of vocational programs for the parents to welcome them so that if private schools are to implement them, teachers will not be forcing it on parents.
”Most of the elder people we have that are skilled in plumbing, wood work and art facts went through vocational training. There is a way this training was discouraged and stopped and switched to the new curriculum, to the point that right now, anyone that opts for vocational studies is seen as a failure. That negative attitude people have on vocational programs is still prevalent and is still preventing students to succeed in life, “He said
He adds: “Adding vocational programs to normal elementary education means we need more teachers, more space and more teaching aid because for instance, if you do carpentry and join a school, there will be need for a carpentry workshop, if we are to do plumbing and something of the sort, we’d need all the teaching aid and equipments. I think unless the government provides, or puts funds where private schools can get some money and buy the necessary equipment, it’s very possible but it’s not that simple.” He added
Isa suggests that things would work better if there were clear distinctions between the vocational school and a normal school with a normal curriculum. “If one wants to focus on vocational, then they would have to join a vocational school. It needs many technicalities for them to be incorporated. A teacher who teaches English language or history cannot go into vocational studies. It will need that particular person with the skill and I don’t really think private schools have the capacity to do so. He said”