Why vocational courses can be better than a university degree

For many Senior Six leavers, successful completion of studies means joining a university and pursuing a degree in whatever field of choice.

Very few students see sense in taking a different education path than joining a university. But Mr Alfred Asiimwe is among the few who look ahead. After completing his Senior Six in 2010 where he scored 18 points in Physics, Chemistry, Mathematics and Entrepreneurship (PCME) – which could have been enough for him to enroll at any university, he instead opted for a diploma in mechanical engineering at the Uganda Technical College-Lira.

“I started earning some money when I was still a student at college and after completing the course. My father simply helped me top up to enable me start my own garage,” he recalls.

No mistakeot a mistake as it he has had the desire for that profession since childhood.“As a child, I used to collect old tins and old barbed wires to make prototypes of cars and I my elder brother could sell them to get me money to buys pancakes and Mandazi at school,” he recalls Asiimwe, who currently runs his own garage in Kibuye, a city suburb, speaks with confidence when asked about his work experience so far. It’s not because he is earning a lot of money, but because of the ease with which he can perform his duties.

He praises his uncle who gave aised him to pursue the course. On a good day, a Asiimwe says he earns between Shs2 million and Shs5 million after paying workers and clearing other expenses.

“Had I not got proper career guidance from my uncle, I would have been among the many youth loitering on streets looking for jobs.” He says although he mastered the job, these days he leaves most of the workshop work to his five employees to handle except for motorists who insist that he personally works on their vehicles.

“I basically do supervisory work and I spend most of my time on my poultry farm in Wakiso where I also rear goats,” Asiimwe boosts.He adds: “The investment I have put on the farm is immense and has enabled me create jobs for 10 other youth –which I think is a good step in addressing the unemployment challenge.”

To enroll for a marketable course in one of the vocational institutions, one needs to have acquired at least two principle passes in Biology and Physics. The government usually fully sponsors more than 3,000 students who choose to join vocational colleges.

It also sponsors only some 4,000 students at the five public universities Makerere, Kyambogo, Mbarara, Gulu and Busitema. Others can pay for their studies at these public universities and the other 30 private universities. However, thousands of students will miss out either because they lack money for tuition or have significantly lower grades than the threshold admission requirement.

Mr Yusuf Nsubuga, the director basic and secondary educations, says for the country to transform from a peasantry-based economy to a modern and industrial self-sustaining nation, students and parents must change their perception of vocational education.

The A-Level results show that some 61,479 candidates out of the 114,380 who sat obtained at least two principal passes, which ideally qualifies them to enlist for post-secondary education.

However, if vocational colleges are considered, many can enroll candidates with One Principal pass and two subsidiary passes, which might bring the number of admitted students to tertiary institutions to 88,975 (77.8 per cent), compared to 65,417 (64.0 per cent) in 2012. Mr Nsubuga says government has pumped in billions of shillings in promoting the acquisition of employable skills at all levels and whoever fails to seize such an opportunity, should blame himself.

Vocational colleges Institute of Survey Lands Management Uganda Petroleum Institute – KigumbaMityana Agro-Vet Training Institute Centenary Community College-Kayunga Uganda Wildlife Training Institute National Metrological Training Sch,EntebbeUganda Cooperative College-Tororo Fisheries Training Institute -EntebbeBulasa Agricultural Training College Kyera Agricultural College Kigumba Cooperative College Masaka School of Comprehensive Nursing Soroti School of Comprehensive Nursing Mbale School of Clinical Officers Gulu School of Clinical Officers Fort Portal Sch. ff Clinical Officers School of Occupational Therapy-KampalaKampala School of PharmacySchool of Med. Lab Technology-Kampala Jinja School of Med. Lab. TechnologyMulago School of RadiographyMulago School of Physiotherapy Mulago School of Orthopaedic OfficersUganda College of Commerce, AdukuUganda College of Commerce, KabaleUganda College of Commerce, PakwachUganda College of Commerce, SorotiUganda College of Commerce, TororoFisheries Training Institute, JinjaNyabyeya Forestry College, MasindiButabika Sch of Psychiatric Clinical OfficersManagement Training and Aisory CentreNsamizi Training Institute of Social DevtNational Teachers College, MubendeNational Teachers College, KaliroNational Teachers College, KabaleNational Teachers College, UnyamaNational Teachers College, MuniUganda Technical College, ElgonUganda Technical College, LiraUganda Technical College, BushenyiUganda Technical College, Kyema, MasindiUganda Technical College, KicwambaUganda Wildlife Training Institute KaseseThe Crested Crane Hotel Tourism Training CentreEast African School of Aviation, SorotiKampala Polytechic -MengoNakawa Vocational Training Institute Kitgum Technical Institute Kaberamaido Technical Institute Bushenyi Vocational Institute St.Charles Lwanga Voc. Institute-ButendeKabira Technical Institute Daniel Comboni Voc. Institute -GuluAhmed Sseguya Mem.InstituteMulagi Voc. Training Institute -Butaleja

SOURCE: Daily Monitor

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