Results of the 2018 Primary Leaving Examinations (PLE) have been released. Every parent or guardian, especially those who are privileged with financial resources, will be looking for the best school to take their children to for secondary education.
Those with meagre resources will be looking for any option provided their child goes a step further than Primary Education. This is when some parents opt for vocational training for their children including tailoring, hairdressing, carpentry pottery, masonry and so on. This level also attracts children whose grades were much lower than the required for secondary education.
Those who will proceed to Senior One, or Ordinary Level (O’level), will certainly be excited about joining that level, and they are more likely to look down on their colleagues who will have joined vocational education. The reality is that a few years down the road, majority of those with vocational skills will be working while many of those who joined secondary education will be roaming the streets looking for jobs.
Our education system, through secondary and university, has had insufficient focus on technical skilling. The implication of this is that our schools produce more good speakers of the English language than skilled workers who understand how to produce or fix things. In the end, we have an economy that consumes a lot more technical services and products than it exports.
The economies that we admire, including Japan and China, did not grow because they churned out many good speakers of the English language. They chose the path of skilling their people to produce tangible results. This is why they are able to sell to us electrical appliances, furniture, communication gadgets and even make our roads.
As you look for a place for your child in a secondary school, consider a school that will deliver technical education in addition to the conventional teaching in Uganda’s schools.
The child who will not ask you to help them find a job after their studies will be the technical one; the people who will change Uganda, and make it an admirable economy, will be the technical ones. Invest in your child’s technical education early enough to help them focus on meaningful careers. Only then shall we build the Uganda we want.