The 2008 A-level results released by the Uganda National Examinations Board yesterday indicated that 40% of the 89,921 students who sat for the Uganda Advanced Certificate of Education exams did not obtain grades sufficient for admission in tertiary institutions.
Julius Owor, the Academic Registrar of Kampala Polytechnic, says it is not the end of the world for those students because there are more than 110 private vocational schools ready to receive them. Owor says the vocational colleges offer a solid alternative for students whom the formal education system regards as failures.
Currently half of all vocational training available in Uganda is provided by private institutions.
Owor says the vocational schools offer training to any willing students, including Senior Four and Senior Six dropouts. He says the practical training offered is a good stepping stone to further education and to gainful employment.
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Vocational technical training in Uganda dates back to 1911 with the establishment of St Joseph Technical Institute. The school, located in Kisubi along Entebbe Road, offered brick laying, carpentry, joinery and shoemaking studies.
Owor says it is training like this that forms the basis of practical professionalism in Uganda. He says that without vocational training there would be no qualified support staff for sectors like building and construction, fashion and design, and mechanics.
The Uganda Association of Private Vocational Institutes has for several years complained that government does not recognize the role of technical training schools in the education sector.
Owor says Kampala Polytechnic has never received monetary or material support from government. He says that as a result the school is unable to properly market its activities or improve its facilities.
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Students of vocational institutes in Uganda are assessed through a standardized testing process provided by the Uganda National Examination Board.