We educate and train children to become employable young people with very real work prospects, to support both themselves and their families. Often the best route is vocational training, rather than purely academic. Here's why...
75% of the Ugandan population is under 30 years old and there is a huge unemployment problem with youth in Uganda. As in many countries, the culture in Uganda has been to push children to O-levels, A-levels and even university, but many graduates struggle for years to find employment and often end up running businesses that have nothing to do with their qualifications.
Recognising this, the government of Uganda is encouraging children with lower academic ability to branch straight into vocational training straight after their primary education, at around 14 years old. After two years of vocational training they are then ready at around age 16 to go into work and start earning money.
After primary it takes a child four years to finish their O-levels (many children fail most of them) and even when they pass these qualifications they are still unemployable because they have no actual work skills. Even after two years of A-levels they are still unemployable, with no practical skills to offer employers.
This process costs families a lot of money in terms of school fees and all of the resources that are needed to get them through school. It is actually much cheaper in the long term for the child to go into vocational training, learn a skill and be employable after just two or three years of training. As an example one of our children, Egessa, was always at the bottom of his class in primary. He was clearly not going to manage to complete O-levels and went straight into carpentry training. After two years of training he gained an internship at a local workshop and because of the character-building Child of Hope had invested in him, his new employers really appreciated his commitment, his faithfulness, and his integrity. They therefore continued to offer him paid employment during his college holidays. With the money he was paid he was able to help his mum pay the rent and to buy food for the family. Instead of being laughed at by his friends, they now had full respect for him as he was the one making money while they were still slogging their way through school! That's a good point; we have noticed that the children who opt for vocational training have a much increased self-worth and esteem as they can see that they are no longer at the bottom of the class and they are actually forging ahead of their peers.
Of course, for children who are academically bright we at continue to push them into formal secondary training, so that eventually they can do degrees or professional training in their chosen vocation such as teaching, law, medicine and engineering. But for those who would struggle to pass their O-levels, it makes much more sense for them and their families to go the quickest route into employment.
There are a number of vocational courses available locally to our children, ranging from vehicle mechanics, hairdressing, catering, plumbing to tailoring and dressmaking. We continue to monitor their progress and our social workers visit them in their colleges on a weekly basis to make sure they are attending classes and that their tutors are happy with their progress. We also ensure that either we pay for their meals at the colleges or, if they are close enough, they come back to our school where we can physically see them each day and give them their lunch. Of course, we still continue to check their health and if they have any medical issues we deal with those for them too.
If supporting this type of social impact interests you, would you consider sponsoring a child through vocational college? It costs £25 per month (usually for two years) and includes regular updates from the young person, including letters and short videos. If so, please email us.