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Education Ministry Moves to Digitalize Vocational Institutes

The Centres include Bukalasa Agricultural College, Uganda Technical College Lira, Uganda Technical College-Elgon and Uganda Technical College in Bushenyi.
A male candidate concentrates during a UBTEB examination for painting and decoration at Lugogo vocational Training Institute

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The Ministry of Education and Sports moves to digitize all Centres of Vocational Excellence under the Uganda Skills Development Project-USDP as one of the means to ensure continued online learning during and post COVID-19 era.

The Centres include Bukalasa Agricultural College, Uganda Technical College Lira, Uganda Technical College-Elgon and Uganda Technical College in Bushenyi. According to the Education Ministry Permanent Secretary Alex Kakooza, the arrangement, part of a World Bank-funded programme will cost 4.7 billion Shillings to cover the installation of information computer technology equipment and their accessories.

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The same arrangement will also benefit affiliate technical institutes which include Karera Technical Institute in Bushenyi, Nyamitanga Technical Institute and Rwentanga Farm Institute in Mbarara, Kitgum Technical Institute, Kalongo Technical Institute  in Agago, Ora Technical Institute in Zombo and Butaleja Technical Institute.

Others are Kasodo Technical Institute in Pallisa, Kaliro Technical Institute, Ssese Farm Institute in Kalangala, Lake Katwe Training Institute in Kasese and Kaberamaido Technical Institute.

Hajjat Safina Musene, the Commissioner in Charge of Business, Technical, Vocational Education and Training (BTVET), shares that after the instalment, the several institutes will start to have basic online teaching which will involve tutorials and short videos demonstrating how things are done.

However, she acknowledges that it might be very hard for vocational institutes to have complete online training given the fact that they need a lot of hands-on-training than theory. she shares that as for the medium and long term interventions, they plan to have blended learning which involves both digital and face to face learning.

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Questioned on how the centres will link up with students who have no technological equipment, Hajjat Musene noted that the government is aware of the task ahead but would rather take step by step approach.

In 2012, the government through  the Ministry of Education launched a BTVET Strategic Plan 2012/13 to 2021/22 entitled "Skilling Uganda’’ to underscore a paradigm shift in skills development in the country. The plan emphasized creating employable skills and competencies relevant to the labour market rather than educational certificates as was before.

However the goal is currently threatened by the COVID-19 pandemic which since has made it very impossible to have face to face lesson in all education institutions.

Currently, reopening of schools seems to be very risky and experts have advised the government to start exploring digital learning platforms. A section of education experts have also highlighted that its high time the government thought of developing a digital learning policy framework that will guide online learning and teaching.

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