ACSET vocational training centre in Oyam, Uganda

Description of the project

ASCET wants to set up a vocational training centre in Oyam that will provide vocational training to vulnerable young people from four districts (Amolatar, Lira, Kole and Oyam) with an estimated total population of 1,300,000 inhabitants. The training centre will offer both formal and informal vocational training.

The formal education is a program with a curriculum approved by the government. This lasts 2 years and consists of both theory and practical lessons. Students are admitted if they have a so-called 'DIT certificate' or a diploma from the junior high school. At the end of the training they take a theory and practical exam under the supervision of the Directorate General of Polytechnic Education. If the student has passed, he or she will receive an UBTEK diploma (secondary vocational training diploma). The costs of this training are 160 euros (80 euros per year).

The informal training is intended for young people who cannot afford the costs of formal vocational training, such as orphans, extreme poor, children infected with HIV / AIDS, child mothers and families of minors. This training lasts 6 months. The theoretical knowledge is minimal, the emphasis is on learning a skill. Young people can follow this training if they have followed a primary school education (also if not completed). They do exam under the supervision of the Directorate General of Industrial Training (DIT). If they succeed, they can receive a 'DIT certificate' (craft school certificate). But even without a diploma they start working with the acquired skills. For students who can afford it, a course fee of 50 euros will be requested, as compensation for the costs of training material.

Why is this project so important?

Uganda has one of the world’s youngest population, with approximately 78% of the total population under the age of 35. Uganda has an exceptionally high birth rate and one of the highest youth unemployment rates in Sub-Saharan Africa; according to Uganda Bureau of Statistics report of 2017 the unemployment rate was 68%. Enhancing youth employment is one of the main objectives of ACSET (Action for Child Social and Economic Transformation) a non-government organisation in Uganda.

Northern Uganda suffered for decades under the atrocities of The Lords Resistant Army (LRA) rebels that killed millions of people, abducted million children and many people fled leaving their households to seek refuge in other areas. The rebel activities led to the break-down of social and cultural structures in the region. Though the region is at peace now, the impacts of the LRA activities are still felt. Many children left orphaned and many children living with HIV. The poor education of orphans and at-risk children due to extreme poverty. Many households cannot meet the basic needs such as food, health care and clothing. High rates of school dropout especially among girls. In addition, many girls are married off at an early age and abuse of social rights of children taking place.

ACSET has been instrumental in promoting education to vulnerable children and youth, providing them “life-skill training” and “vocational training” for the empowerment of young people. Moreover, they are engaging in sustainable ways of livelihood improvement of people who are at risk and in vulnerable situations.
A survey conducted by ACSET in 2016 showed that young people are particularly interested in learning skills that are specifically demanded and with which income can be generated. Carpentry, tailoring, bricklaying, welding and metalworking and horticulture, bee-farming and keeping pigs are among the most expressed skills youth would like to acquire.

Where do we stand at the moment?

ASCET initially focused on offering primary education to vulnerable young people from the Oyam, Lira, Kole and Amolatar districts. After completion primary education, ACSET supported some in pursuing secondary education or vocational training in existing secondary schools, vocational training centres and technical schools in the city of Lira. This approach, of paying the tuition fees for the vulnerable youth after finishing primary, turned out to be too expensive and not sustainable for ACSET. In addition, these programs do not necessarily provide training in skills for which there is a demand. From this emerged the idea of establishing a vocational training centre itself.

With technical assistance from the Van Doorn Foundation, a business plan for this vocational training centre has been developed. This shows that the centre can be financially viable and sustainable after the first year. During the first 12 months funds are needed for investments (school furniture, training materials and tools) and to pay the instructors' salaries. ACSET is currently assisted in developing the syllabuses for the various courses. The establishment and running costs for the first year have been estimated at about UGX 140 million or around € 30,000.

The project is carried out by ACSET (Action for Child Social and Economic Transformation), in collaboration with the Gered Gereedschap Foundation and the Van Doorn Foundation.
ACSET itself contributes about UGX 76 million (about € 15,900) to this project. This amount will be generated from training fees and sales of products the trainees will make in the training centre. Initially ACSET will make use of (rented) school facilities in Oyam while the construction of a school is underway (with ongoing fundraising since 2016).

Logo Gered Gereedschap

The Foundation Gered Gereedschap has pledged to make training equipment and tools available (valued at UGX 42 million or € 9,200). Some 500 volunteers are active in the 30 workshops throughout the Netherlands.

Practitioners enthusiastically refurbish tools for a second life in Africa. Together with tool-suppliers, donors, funds and companies, the foundation has one goal “providing concrete resources to professionals in developing countries for a life without poverty”.

The Van Doorn Foundation has been asked to make UGX 22 million or € 4,800 for the transport of equipment from Gered Gereedschap, for the salaries of instructors and procurement of training material (consumables) in the first year.

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