A good education should prepare you for going out of the world as an adult. This is what many of us ask of our education system. And this same thing is being asked by many other people of their education systems all over the world. It has become an important issue for communities and schools in North Uganda as they are looking to the next generation to provide skilled professionals to continuing rebuilding the region. But like communities all over the world, the critical question facing them and the students is what options are out there and what skills do they require.
As AET launched a new initiative to help secondary schools better prepare their students to enter professional careers, we went straight to the source – the students and their prospective employers- to help figure out how to get this important information into students hands. We now have 28 students from different schools, ambitious about entering professional schools who have takend the lead on gathering information from what students on what they want to know and from employers on what they are looking for. They have collected information and last month they held a workshop to share their experience with head teachers, career guidance teachers and a group of leading professional in their community.
To prepare for this workshops, students spent one day doing a ICT boot camp with their computer teachers. For most of these students it was the first time they had sat down at the computer. The lack of computer skills is often a major challenge for entering professional careers and figuring out how to overcome this is a technology poor environment is another challenge this project will seek to address. We were super impressed by how everyone became adept at using this new technology and they all managed to produce a power-point to present their findings.
The workshop itself was an inspirational day with a wide variety of guest speakers who came to talk about their professions, the types of job available and what skills and training are needed to get a job in the sector. There was a doctor specialised in orthopaedics, a bank manager, AET Uganda’s finance officer, a programme manager of a local NGO (AET partner Child Restoration Outreach), a journalist and radio presenter, and a representative of the President’s office. There were also presentations by a lecturer from All Saint’s University, who spoke about getting into higher education, by the Principle Education Officer for Secondary Education who spoke about career guidance and the Director of the Chamber of Commerce, who spoke about entrepreneurship and running your own business. Throughout the entire day the message from all speakers were to work hard, to not underestimate the experience gained in any opportunity including leadership in their own school and to always remember that even if things don’t work out at first, don’t give it.
This is the sort of experience that all secondary students should have. We hope the new career guidance kits that will be built upon all the great information collected by our students, will provide more students with the chance to explore possiblities, and get support and encouragement they need to achieve their dreams.