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Youth & societal perceptions

Conceptualizing youth as resource, social problem!

Youth Learning Festival 2018 (YLF5) Scholars

The implications of conceptualizing youth as resource or social problem can be too hard to comprehend in the daily routine of parents, teachers and other social actors as they guide and support young people. Yesterday, the 27 September 2019 at the fellowship of Rotary Groningen Oost, I had a very rewarding exchange on the same with a club of distinguished Dutch men and women. We undertook an impromptu perception check on the common understandings of youth. We also reflected on the common phenomenon of youth resistance. We debated a little about the manifestations of the perceptions in the two contexts – what society in Uganda and the Netherlands, think. The slides below guided our conversation. What do you think about this conversation?

The 2021 Education Review Commission Should Redeem Uganda’s Education!

Ugandans will soon see another round of policy recommendations by another Education Policy Review Commission (EPRC) appointed in 2021, headed by Hon Amanya Mushega one of the country’s education architects’ in the 1990s when the monumental Government White Paper on Education (GWE) unleashed fundamental ideals and principles to democratise education in all its forms. Many individuals and organisations should have submitted pertinent views to the EPRC by close of the deadline on 28 Feb 2022, and I trust that those views and opinions will receive due consideration. I implore the Commission to redeem Uganda’s education. Make bold recommendations to democratise and broaden the vision of education. I request the Commission not to repeat the history of shrinking our education to ‘schooling’. The lessons from the processes and outcomes of your predecessor commissions (eg. Phelps Stokes Commission, Castle Education Commission and Prof Senteza Education Policy Review Commission) should haunt you enough to do a job that befits the demands and aspirations of 21st century Ugandans and their children’s children

‘Decolonizing and Africanizing’ Education: Get beyond the Slogans

Sloganeering is one tool that has not been used for a good purpose by education policy decision makers at different levels. The rhetoric of decolonizing and Africanizing Uganda’s education is, for example, often used to make a point about ‘how bad colonialism’ was and is to our ‘independence and integrity’ as African people. Not many times, do such sloganeering tendencies get deeper into the drivers and root causes of endemic exclusion of millions of Ugandans from accessing good quality education and training opportunities. Often one hears public rhetoric about vocationalisation of education, education with production, teaching in mother tongue and so many many such slogans. I argue the EPRC to identify and use the right tools of analysis to make rational policy recommendations that are free from emotions and political gimmicks. Systems thinking would be a great paradigm if I could be allowed to make a suggestion for some good ways of understanding wicked social problems such as Uganda’s deteriorating education.

Redeem Uganda’s Education System

From an adult and lifelong learning perspective, I implore the EPRC to diligently exercise its mandate to ensure that its suggestions and recommendations aim to broaden and widen the scope, structure, system and practice of education to meet the education and learning needs of all children, youths and adults in Uganda.

While local, regional and global trends in education, cultural, scientific, technology, political and economic fields are compelling all nations to expand and widen flexible initial and further education opportunities and facilities for youths and adults to constantly learn at their own pace for personal and societal development, our education system is predominantly a ‘schooling machine’ designed to serve ‘full-time learners’ who are assumed to be either children or dependent individuals with no other social, political or economic roles in our society. Yet we are all aware that our country has thousands and millions of prospective and enrolled learners with multiple identities such as parents, wives, husbands, traders, farmers, musicians, artists, church leaders, civil servants, parliamentarians and councillors.

Many of the learners in the categories mentioned above and more are constantly struggling to navigate the restrictive ‘schooling culture’ of our education system as they juggle their social roles including the fundamental ‘tax paying’ citizenry obligations. Besides the financial burden of paying unregulated and randomly determined fees, they endure poor teaching-learning environments which do not match their needs, interests and characteristics as independent and self-directing individuals. 

While thousands are struggling to cope with the poor learning environments in countless registered and unregistered institutions across the country, it is evident that there is a significant section of Ugandans who are excluded from either enrolling for quality initial education services or pursuing further education and training on account of their age and / or past schooling performance. In this category are non-literate adult Ugandans (18 years & above) who missed out on formal schooling in their childhood and those who did not successfully complete primary and secondary education.

The available education options for such  Ugandans include adult basic education (ABE) programmes by NGOs, the Ministry of Gender and other state and non-state actors. The good intentions of these ABE programmes notwithstanding, their effectiveness and outcomes in relation to access and quality as well as their configuration in the context of lifelong learning have been questioned by several evaluations and reviews (see MGLSD,2007; Okech et al, 1999; Okech et al, 2001; Oxenham, et al 2002;  Rogers, et al, 2008).  The media stories of senior citizens and other older Ugandans who brave the humiliation to sit PLE and O level examinations under conditions that are designed for children illustrate the structural obstacles that they face in their crave to pursue desired further education and training.

It is evident that the state of education and training for youths and adults in Uganda is deficient and far below the expectations of not only the Education 2030 Framework for Action, UNESCO Recommendations on the development of adult education in 1975 /2015, the Belem Framework for Action 2010 but also Uganda’s constitution of 1995, National Development Plan III and the NRM’s manifesto.

For years, several writers and commentators have delineated the issues and concerns calling for public policy action but in vain (see Bananuka, et al 2019; MGLSD, 2012; MGLSD, 2015; MoE, 1992; Jjuuko, 2021;  Jjuuko, 2012; Jjuuko, 2007;  Jjuuko et al, 2007; Openjuru 2016). There is no pragmatic inclusive policy framework to guide and regulate the planning, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of ALE services in Uganda. The political, technical and administrative responsibilities for different components are fragmented across various ministries and departments without clear coordination, partnership and collaboration mandates. Overall, the operating environment is not enabling enough to facilitate access to quality education and training services by the majority of those who urgently need knowledge and skills to improve their livelihoods and to live a dignified life.

Renew the 1992 GWE policy positions to democratise education

I appeal to the EPRC to critically consider the 1992 Government White Paper on Education policy positions under chapter nine on Democratisation of Education  with a focus to review and renew the following (direct extract): 

  • Making extraordinary efforts in the following areas namely (i) Education for Women, (ii) Special Education for PWDs, (iii) Education for Gifted Children, (iv) Education for Disadvantaged groups, (v) Education for Karamoja, (vi) Non-formal and Adult Education, (vii) Post-Literacy Adult Education, (viii) Basic Education for National Development, (ix). Eradication of Illiteracy,(x). Apprenticeship Education for the Youth, (xi) Continuing and Lifelong Education, (xiii). Distance Education and the Mass Media;
  • Addressing the limited scope of Non-formal and Adult Education by encompassing the following objectives namely (i) Attainment of permanent and development functional literacy and numeracy, (ii) Acquisition of functional skills relevant to life in the community, (iii) Development of national awareness of the individuals; and (iv) Continued learning while-at-work and at home;
  • Consolidation of present infrastructure and expansion of responsibilities of the Ministry of Education and Sports to cover formal as well as non-formal and adult education leading to increased access to education by all citizen;
  • Creation of a directorate for Adult and Lifelong learning.

Finally, I state my proposal to the EPRC to Recognise and Streamline Adult Education & Learning (ALE) in the Structure, System and Practice of Education in Uganda.

About the Author

Robert Jjuuko is a Uganda Researcher, Educationist & Consultant | robert@adultslearnuganda.org | WhatsApp + 256 787 66 70 43

References

  • Bananuka, T. H., & Katahoire, A. R. (2019). The struggle for Adult learning and Education policy: a Ugandan experience. Commonwealth of Learning (COL).
  • Jjuuko, R. (2021). Uganda’s Integrated Community Learning for Wealth Creation (ICOLEW) architecture: triggering public financing of popular adult learning and education. DVV International
  • Jjuuko, R. (2012). Youth and adult learning in Uganda: Key policy issues and concerns. Conference proceedings. Uganda Adult Education Network. Kampala
  • Jjuuko, R. (2007). Reflection on adult education priorities in Uganda: if there was enough money for adult education, what would be priorities. Journal of Adult Education and Development, 68.
  • Jjuuko, R., Bugembe, R., Nyakato, J., & Kasozi, M. (2007). A desk study of public policy frameworks related to adult learning. Uganda Adult Education Network
  • MGLSD. (2015). Third global report on adult learning and education: monitoring survey results for Uganda. UNESCO Institute for Lifelong Learning. Retrieved 11 6, 2020, from https://uil.unesco.org/i/doc/adult-education/grale-3/national-reports/uganda.pdf
  • MGLSD. (2012). Follow-up of CONFINTEA VI: national progress report submitted by the Government of Uganda. UNESCO Institute for Lifelong Learning. Retrieved 11 6, 2020, from Confintea report 2012 https://uil.unesco.org/fileadmin/download/en/nationalreports/africa/Uganda.pdf
  • MGLSD. (2007). Process review of the functional adult literacy programme in Uganda 2002-Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development.
  • MoES. (1992). Government white paper on education review commission report. Ministry of Education and Sports.
  • NPA. (2020). Third national development plan (NDP III) 2020/21-2024/25. National Planning Authority. Retrieved 11 12, 2020, from www.npa.go.ug/wpcontent/uploads/2020/08/NDPIIIFinale_Compressed.pdf
  • Okech, A., Carr-Hill, R. A., Katahoire, A. R., Kakooza, T., & Ndidde, A. N. (1999). Report of evaluation on the functional adult literacy programme in Uganda 1999. Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development.
  • Okech, A., Carr-Hill, R. A., Katahoire, A. R., Kakooza, T., Ndidde, A. N., & Oxenham, J. (2001). Adult literacy programs in Uganda. World Bank.
  • Openjuru, G. L. (2016). Older adult education in Uganda. In B. Findsen & M. Formosa (Eds.), International perspectives on older adult education: lifelong learning book series 22. Springer International Publishing.
  • Oxenham, J., Diallo, A. H., Katahoire, A. R., Mwangi, A. P., & Sall, O. (2002). Skills and literacy training for better livelihoods: a review of approaches and experiences. Washington. The World Bank.
  • Rogers, A., Openjuru, G., Busingye, J., & Nampijja, D. (2008). Report of consultancy on functional adult literacy programme in Kalangala and Buvuma Islands provided by the Government of Uganda Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development and supported by ICEIDA.

Living a DREAM and learning to LEARN

Living a DREAM and learning to LEARN: Perspectives from the 7th INTALL Winter School

Author with colleagues in the same comparative group

Dreams! Everybody has them, I am not talking about the ‘sensations that occur in our mind during sleep,’ I am talking about aspirations, the ambitions that we cherish when we are growing as people and as career developers.

Well, I have been living my dreams – from studying abroad to traveling around the world. But, perhaps the most exciting of the dreams I have so far lived was being part of the 7th INTALL Winter School 2020 at the University of Würzburg in Germany at the beginning of February. For two weeks, I did not only live my dream, a dream I missed in 2017, but have also acquired lots of experience that I believe will enhance my career and personal life.

The solo journey

Since I started traveling in Europe, I have always had someone waiting on the other side, someone, that knows the place. This time, it was different. I was alone and prepared to face the challenges that I might encounter along the way. First, I made sure I had enough time between connecting journeys; that way, if I get lost, I can find my way through without missing my flight or train. While the strategy sounds perfect, it could easily be disrupted by unforeseen circumstances. For example, while I had 2 hours of waiting for my train to Wurzburg from Frankfurt, it never occurred to me that the train could be delayed. Well, to cut the story short, it had 100 minutes of delay, and when it came, it changed the platform which they announced (in German) as it arrived, but I didn’t know about it in time. So, it took off as I watched with regret.

Meanwhile, I had alerted the receptionist at my booked hostel that I would reach later than anticipated due to the delay, and she had agreed to wait for an extra 30 minutes past her closing time. At this time, someone from India going to Nuremberg had also missed the same train. We looked at each other and started a conversation. We moved to the information desk to inquire about our fate. Luckily, there was one more train scheduled for the direction of our destinations, and that’s how we survived. Given the circumstances that had happened that evening (disruption of train schedules), the ticket inspector was kind enough to let it go, and I used the ticket that was not flexible (next time, I will give ‘flexible’ tickets the respect they deserve!) and oh, always book easily accessible hotels. My hostel was a 2-minute walk away from the train station, and I had 2 minutes left on the grace period the reception had given me (lucky me, huh!).

The two weeks in Würzburg 

For the two weeks I spent in Wurzburg, I met amazing people from different corners of the world – the moderators, the organizers, and the participants were all exceptional in many ways. The heterogeneity of winter school fellows meant a vibrant hub of vast knowledge and life experiences to learn and to connect.

The first week was designated for lectures with a focus on international theories in adult education, adult education provision in Germany & social policy analysis models. We also had the opportunity to visit providers of adult education in Germany and discussions with international stakeholders in adult education and lifelong learning. From the field visits, I came to appreciate how similar and different countries and organizations are in the provision of adult education. The discussion with international stakeholders in adult education was equally so crucial that I had the opportunity to interact with renowned personalities whose works I have followed and inspired me over the years.  

The interactive lectures on policy models and tools for analyzing adult education policies were influential in the comparative group work of the second week. We had the opportunity to pitch policy recommendations at the end of the first week combining insights from the field and the international stakeholders’ conversations. Many lessons were learned here regarding advocacy work in adult education.

The comparative groups

For the most significant part of the second week, the eight comparative groups were working hard to find similarities, differences, and perspectives from the transnational essays. My group theme was on the Role of adult education institutions and organizations in the professionalization of adult educators. My transnational essay focused on the Ugandan perspective, which had to be compared with the USA, Pakistan, Nigeria, and Brazil that my colleagues had presented. Dissecting the five-country aspects in terms of institutions & organizations, legal and policy frameworks, and pathways for professionalizing adult educators, was a task that we did with much enthusiasm with the help of three moderators and two practitioners. It was hectic but worth it. This post is not intended to highlight the findings of our analysis, but I must say, it was a learning experience for me as far as analyzing and comparing several subjects is concerned and understanding what is happening elsewhere from the people that live there.

The joy and fun side

The winter school was not only about lectures, field visits, group works, and the like. There was time for creating new memories too. Adult learning comes with lots of fun, and the joy we shared will last forever. First, there were lots of sharing ideas in classes whenever an activity would require forming groups and later presenting. I was impressed at how some fellows were talented at presenting their views – you should have been there when groups were submitting their policy proposals under the analytical models (Democratic-emancipatory model; Modernization and state control model; & Human resources management model). I learned that it is a tough job convincing stakeholders to ‘buy’ your policy recommendations, especially in a polarized world on many fronts.

Away from class, I had a trip to Prague and enjoyed the beautiful city with my new friends from Jamaica. I also was privileged to be invited by Bolanle Simeon-Fayomi, Ph.D., for dinner with Nigerian colleagues at the winter school. And of course, the climax of all the fun was at the farewell dinner code-named Franconia evening, where we had a taste of the homegrown and brewed wine.  

Reflections

As I reflect on the two weeks, the following stand out

  •  That never give up on your dreams, they may be delayed, but with determination and hard work, there are many possibilities to achieving your dream
  • It is essential to learn how to make quick decisions. I delayed making some decisions, and it cost me time, but also, I made some swift decisions after insight from a friend, and it paid off. So, if you can, share your ‘troubles’ someone might help you find a solution quickly
  • As we work in teams, the heterogeneity of groups requires that we sharpen our competencies of relating well with/to others, co-operate & work in teams and manage and resolve conflicts. I strongly stress the importance of managing emotions effectively as this will ease relating and working with others. This competency falls under the emotional intelligence block, one of the many building blocks for our career guidance model at Compuline Career Academy
  • There are many unique similarities among countries regarding how the field and profession of adult learning education are understood and taken. We, therefore, need to unite forces to have a unified voice (for global advocacy).
  • There are as well, vast differences in the practice. Which calls for exchange visits so that adult educators can see and appreciate the different perspectives (their context notwithstanding)
  • Embrace digital literacy. Learn to ‘move on the App.’ You can monitor the next ‘stops’ on a train and that way you will not get out early or late (as some operators can be mean to translate into a language you understand)

Many thanks to the Professorship for Adult and Continuing Education and partners for enabling me to live this dream.

Danke schön Würzburg! 👌👏🙌

Disclaimer: The article was first published on the author’s LinkedIn page. Our website was undergoing maintenance.

Lifelong Learning, Youth and Work

Lifelong learning; my learning journey with UNESCO Chair on Lifelong Learning, Youth, and Work, Gulu University.

Ever since I decided to go back to school after a ‘forced’ break for 3 years, I have become an ardent fun of learning. Some of my colleagues have given me titles to this effect (not mentioning them here). Truth is, we should embrace learning all the time because the world we live in is changing now and then. So, what is the purpose of this blog post? Whereas I have a lot to share about my learning experiences, in this article, I want to narrate my journey with UNESCO Chair.

Before the UNESCO Chair

While at Kyambogo University for my bachelor’s degree in Adult and Community Education, I was a student leader on many fronts. One of my accomplished activities was engaging in current debates about social issues and development agenda for our country. One of the lecturers in my department then saw my ‘curiosity’ and hard work especially in mobilizing and organizing people for a cause. Long story short, he has since become my mentor and colleague. Fast forward, August 2016, while I was working as his research associate, he invited me to assist him in covering a min workshop for the YEW network.  Before the workshop, he had linked a network member with me to help him coordinate a group of young people for a skit about social problems in our society. This workshop and the preceding dinners introduced me to key stakeholders of the UNESCO Chair. Subsequently, as we continued with the research project, I met more of the YEW members some of whom were supervising the research project. It was in one of the research meetings, that the announcement of the UNESCO Chair was mentioned.

My involvement with the UNESCO Chair

Again, while at Makerere University for my master’s degree, one of the YEW members was my professor. She was coordinating the UNESCO Chair secretariat (if I am not mistaken). Through her, my application to attend the UNESCO Chair stakeholders start conference in November 2017 was accepted. I was offered the privilege to be on the rapporteur team. The two days of the conference were especially important for incredible other opportunities. There was a lot of interaction with stakeholders from NGOs and Universities. In April 2018, the UNESCO Chair and partners had a week-long residential training seminar in my neighbourhood. My dean at Makerere University was among those in attendance. Something needed to be picked urgently from Makerere University to the training Hotel and he sought my quick assistance. On my return, he asked me to represent him for the remaining days for he had some urgent matters to attend to. He is such a humorous person that I thought he was pranking me for delivering the item in time, but no… he was dead serious. So, for three or so days I was jokingly referred to as the ‘dean’. You might ask why he delegated me, well, he had seen me working at the conference back in November of 2017 and I was in his face early morning when he was needed urgently somewhere. The privilege of attending this training seminar was immense. Lots of learning from partner organizations and more connections.

Other opportunities

As mentioned earlier, I am a very curious person and I like ‘going there’. In 2019 (I had moved to Europe for an exchange program in Norway) my mentor was presenting at a congress in Switzerland and asked if I could join him (of course I said yes) and that was another experience that I can write another time. How is it connected to UNESCO Chair on lifelong Learning, Youth and Work? Well, firstly, the conference was about vocational education and training which is an area the UNESCO Chair has a keen interest. Secondly, the European partner university (the University of Groningen in the Netherlands) where my mentor was doing his PhD had a team of scholars attending the congress. The same University had scheduled a seminar for network scholars after the congress. It was my time to visit this university that many of the UNESCO Chair notables finished their masters and PhDs. I asked the UNESCO Chairholder to attend the planned seminar. It was an amazing experience in the Northern part of the Netherlands.

The COVID-19 and its implication.

The CORONA crisis left most people stranded. I was supposed to travel for data collection for my second master degree, but flights were grounded, borders closed, and jobs lost. In that whole confusion and stress, I was always looking out for webinars and free courses. That is when the UNESCO Chair announced an online qualitative data analysis course to which I applied and was accepted. This course introduced me to data analysis software ATLAS.ti. I have had the chance to learn about other software provided by my University, but I have been reluctant. I took the course with the seriousness it deserved. With incredible support from the facilitators and participants, I found the course remarkably interesting and motivating. I can boast of this added skill and knowledge of qualitative data analysis approaches that I had limited knowledge about. Thanks to the UNESCO Chair for the continued capacity-building support for masters and PhD students.  I want to applaud the team that organized and ran the course. It was the best call. The COVID-19 pandemic or any other crisis should not stop the world from continuing. Organizations and Institutions should be creative enough to embrace the available technologies to carry out their mandate.

Benefits and Lessons so far

My engagement with the UNESCO Chair and/or people associated with it has yielded several benefits and I have learnt many lessons. I highlight a few:

  1. I have acquired knowledge and skills from the many seminars, conferences, and courses I have attended that have been organized or sponsored by the chair.
  2. I have made connections and enriched my social network
  3. I have travelled to new places both within Uganda and in Europe. As a person who loves travelling, this experience is self-satisfying and builds self-confidence  
  4. My perspective about certain research fields and career pathways have changed (in a good way of course)
  5. I have learnt that it is important to put yourself there even when you have no idea what is there. There is a lot we can learn when we accept new challenges
  6. I have easy access to resources, research published by the chair and people in its circles
  7. I now follow a network of scholars and their works for example VET Africa 4.0

I end this article by calling upon young educators and students to embrace volunteerism, collaboration, and curiosity. Yearn to learn more, always be on the lookout, there are opportunities for learning in every circumstance. Enhance those competencies you have or better yet, learn new skills. The dynamic nature of life requires lifelong learning to fit in the available work opportunities. Once again, I extend my sincere gratitude to the Chairholder and the team of facilitators for the interesting presentations and constructive feedback. I am happy to have taken the course and I look forward to future opportunities from the chair and its consortium partners.

About the author:

Saul is a Ugandan currently pursuing a master’s degree in Global Development and Planning with a specialization in Development Management from the University of Agder, Kristiansand campus, Norway. Prior to joining Agder as an Erasmus + Global Mobility exchange student, he had undertaken full courses in the master’s degree in Adult and Community Education of Makerere University, Kampala, Uganda. His background in the field of Education informs his passion for understanding the role of education [formal or otherwise] in transforming communities. His research interests are in the areas of community education, community development, vocational education & training, socio-economic transformation, social protection, and sustainable futures.

Saul is a professional grade five teacher and a graduate of the Bachelor of Adult and Community Education of Kyambogo University. He has also done part-time teaching in the Department of Adult and Community Education, Kyambogo University, Uganda. He has taken courses in European Integration Studies at the University of Agder, Kristiansand, and recently participated in a winter school 2020 on International and comparative studies in adult education and lifelong learning at the Julius-Maximilians-Universität Würzburg, Germany.

What makes a good mentor

Many of us must have used the word mentor at some point in our life. While growing up, I always heard questions like who is your mentor?  And the quickest answer would be either my dad, mam, pastor, or a favorite teacher.

Over the years, mentorship has found a place in many disciplines. Today, many organizations are rooting for mentorship programs as a way of building capacities for those developing their careers. Universities are assigning continuing students to freshers as their mentors, but are they mentoring? Many organizations assign new employees to senior staff for mentoring, but is it what they do? My first job as a cook, I was attached to an experienced cook to be my mentor, but was he? My point is that many have used the word ‘mentor’ even when they are doing something different.

Nonetheless, as Hunt & Micheal (1983) note, we often turn teachers, coaches, guides, sponsors, bosses, gurus, and even relatives for advice, or protection. So, could it be that our relationship with the cited categories qualifies as a mentoring relationship? I will share my perspective of what makes a good mentor, building on the literature reviewed by Hunt & Micheal(1983). We could agree that mentorship is context-based and, therefore, will not be uniform across all disciplines. My perspective is situated in the field of academia because that is where I have had a lot of mentorships.

Who is a mentor?

Writer with one of his mentors at the 6th Congress on Research in Vocational Education and Training, March 2019 in Bern/Zollikofen-Switzerland

Walusansa (2018) describes mentorship as an “indispensable tool for preparing, guiding, and motivating young professionals during their career development.” Regarding who a mentor is, the descriptions, as seen, are vast and contextual. However, the University of Michigan (2018) describes a mentor as someone who takes an interest in developing another person’s career and well-being; has an interpersonal as well as a professional relationship with those whom they mentor. Hunt & Micheal (1983) also describe a mentor as an individual who is successful in his/her field. But does this mean that all field experts can be mentors? Or rather good mentors? Well, the literature reviewed by Hunt & Micheal (1983) points to specific characteristics that a mentor and mentee should possess if the mentorship is to yield positive results. For now, the focus will be on the mentor, and the mentee will be for another day

Mentor attributes

If you are there looking to have a mentor, or you have one, and things are not going well, consider checking these characteristics.  Age, gender, and power are the typical attributes of mentors cited in the literature.  Age and age differential are said to be essential in the relationship between mentor and mentee. Studies on this characteristic reveal that the age difference should not be too vast; neither should it be narrow. When the gap is wide enough, the literature indicates there could be issues of culture and generational collision, or the relationship becomes ‘parent-child.’  Likewise, it will turn into a peer relationship if the age gap is too narrow. My experience attests to this description because, at some point, I have looked to someone 3-5 years older, and I can not recall where we left off. For good mentorship, an age difference of 8-15 years is ideal.

While the literature identifies gender as a crucial mentor attribute, I choose to use sex instead. The relationship between males and females will always be ‘complicated.’ Research indicates that most successful mentor relationships have been male-male. I have several female role models, and not any is my mentor. Based on the little male-female mentorships studied, issues of sexual tension and fears, increased public scrutiny, as well as stereotypical female/male roles have to surface and could hamper the successful mentor-mentee relationship. While there are no credible studies done on female-female mentorship, I believe there are more successful female mentors of female mentees. I encourage young female career builders to consider choosing female mentors to avoid the complexities associated with having a male mentor.

Other attributes good mentors possess are Self-confidence, organization position, and power. Hunt & Micheal (1983) note that mentors are highly placed people with an experience they wish to share but not threatened by the young Turks. Any good mentor should be able to exhibit self-confidence and professionalism, and these attributes he/she must instill them to their mentees. A good mentor should give power to the mentee, that is how you build another. Delegating is a powerful tool for boosting ones’ self-confidence. Many times, I have represented my mentors for somewhat challenging activities and tasks, but I have learned from them a great deal. “Experience is the best teacher,” yes, I agree with the saying and attest to it. Choose a mentor that will push your limits, and look out for challenging opportunities for you. Sometimes you will disappoint them and vice versa, but they will not forsake you if they do, then those are not good mentors. I have had the delight of having mentors that have my best interest at heart. That does not come so immediately, though, as I will write about mentee characteristics (some other time), mentors lookout for mentees that have aspirations for higher achievement and social similarities, among other attributes. Career growth and development thus is an interplay of a strong mutual relationship between the mentor and the mentee.

Where do we stand

Walusansa (2018) articulates that “mentorship helps young professionals to deal with the challenges that they often encounter at work or personal level.” He suggests that “deliberate efforts be made to ensure that young professionals are placed under the watch of senior staff to enhance career and personal development.” If this good suggestion is to become realistic, mentors must be real mentors. Often, the senior staff takes for granted their subordinates; teachers/facilitators in educational institutions take for granted their students/learners.

A recent study by Jjuuko et al. (2019) provides an insight into the relationship between learners and educators, and surprisingly, the findings are not far from agreeing with the assertion that there is a need for a robust cordial relationship just as one required for proper mentorship. There is a need for a model for rethinking mentorship if the mentorship programs are to be effective. It starts with identifying good mentors. For mentorship programs are geared at enhancing career and personal development, then choosing the right mentor is not an option. Look for someone with and who will improve your creativity, critical thinking & argument, writing ability, presentation & negotiation skills, and interpersonal skills.

About the blogger

Saul Tumwine is a master student of Global Development and Planning at the University of Agder, in Norway. He is a professional teacher, community organizer, and learning facilitator. He believes everyone can make an impact in their life and community.

References

Hunt, D. M., & Michael, C. (1983). Mentorship: A career training and development tool. Academy of Management Review8(3), 475-485. https://doi.org/10.5465/amr.1983.4284603

Jjuuko, R., Tukundane, C., & Zeelen, J. (2019). Exploring agricultural vocational pedagogy in Uganda: students’ experiences. International Journal of Training Research, 1-14. https://doi.org/10.1080/14480220.2019.1685161

University of Michigan (2018) How to mentor graduate studentshttp://www.rackham.umich.edu/downloads/publications/Fmentoring.pdf

Walusansa, B. (2018, April 9th). Why we need mentorship programmes for young professionals. The sunrise. Retrieved from:  

ICTSkills4YouthWork Identity Research

Addressing the predicament of the poor in Uganda’s education system

YLF5 Scholars

In the second half of next year 2020, we[1] formally launch our passion-driven and knowledge generating work-based ICT training initiative for youth with incomplete schooling in Uganda. During the initial two-year phase, the ICT Skills4Life-Work Identity initiative, will engage 10 pioneer youth through a learning community approach to develop and nurture a work-related training model. The learning community is being co-created by IT professionals, educationists, employers, IT entrepreneurs and parents/guardians in and around Njeru and Jinja

The ICT Skills4Life-Work Identity is a small collaborative initiative for generating local knowledge on how to design and deliver effective work-related learning approaches within the limitations of our context. It is a passion driven humble contribution to searching and understanding better how to deliver vocational and professional education and training (VPET) for socially and educationally disadvantaged young people.  We describe it as a passion-driven initiative because we will strive to maintain and nurture our individual and collective autonomy to explore all possible options as a community of co-researchers and practitioners.

Using the learning community approach, we anticipate relying heavily on the good will and support of individual citizens. We anticipate building a social capital base to generate mutually beneficial avenues for the participating young people but also for the rest of the participants in the learning community. Our strategy is to generate and use local knowledge, expertise and related resources. We do anticipate creating mutual relationships and partnerships with interested individuals and organizations that acknowledge the needed flexibility for an initiative of our type.  Are you interested in education and work lives of young people?  Click for more detailshttps://mycareeruganda.org/pilot-work-based-ict-training-4life-study-work-skills-uganda-27102019/.  

The larger challenge: predicament of the poor in Uganda’s education system

Uganda’s education system has four cycles namely early childhood education, primary education, secondary education, and tertiary / university education. After pre-primary education for children aged 2-5 years, the system follows a 7-6-2+ pattern.  Seven years are for primary education followed by 6 years of secondary education. Secondary education is under two levels: 4 years for lower level and two for upper. The state-run Uganda National Examinations Board (UNEB) conducts national examinations every year to approve or restrict students’ transition from one cycle to the next up to entry into vocational/higher education. 2-5years of vocational and higher education is for those who successfully complete and pass secondary education examinations.

Education quantitative gains neither sustainable nor equitable

Generally, there are quite a number of quantitative gains resulting from the different education policy reforms made during the past decades especially in the 1990s.  Access to primary education steadily increased from a net enrolment of three million in 1997 to 8.7 million pupils by 2016 owing to Education for All UPE policy. The introduction of Universal Secondary Education (USE) propelled secondary education enrollment from 954,328 in 2007 to 1,457,000 by 2016 (Uganda Bureau of Statistic, 2008; 2017).  

However, the situation continues to be a mixed bag of progress and endemic structural challenges. The country’s socio-economic and political transformation seems to have stagnated as revealed by the minimal changes in the structure and manifestation of poverty in its diverse dimensions (World Bank, 2016). Limited completion, progression and transition rates mirror deep education deprivation. Children from poor families suffer the brunt of inefficiencies in the education system.  For instance, Transition to senior one declined by 7.3 % from 70.5% in 2014 to 63.2% in 2016. Transition to senior five also declined by 5% from 30% in 2014 to 25% in 2016 (Ministry of Education and Sports 2016).  Indeed as confirmed by the World Development Report of 2018, Uganda’s education system is in a state of systemic failure to ensure education quality and equity (World Bank, 2018).  Repeatedly, local and global studies indicate that many of those who navigate their way into the classrooms end up schooling but without learning.

Education losers

Amidst all the numerous social dynamics of access and quality, children from poor families, orphans and other marginalized groups find themselves at the periphery. Some of them who persist and withstand the difficulties in primary and secondary schooling often fail; and they exit the system with disgrace. The so-called poor performers at these levels are doomed as they enter the world without any documentary evidence of the learning outcomes attained. The system creates education losers. The losers suffer short and long-term deprivation. They face multiple deprivations, exclusion and exploitation now and always particularly if no remedial intervention is availed to them to reclaim their dignity and identity.  

Our argument

Society must correct its mistakes. We will always contribute to this collective struggle to make the world a better place for all by making education serve its emancipatory role of course not neglecting labour market demands. 

We recognize the efforts of state institutions and other mega donor funded interventions to skill young people in this country. We are aware that current efforts are constantly struggling to get it right – adequately supporting young people to develop the capabilities they need to meet their life and work goals

We are also aware that many researchers, scholars and practitioners are busy researching for better ways of making education and training work better for young people but we are also aware that they are constrained by pressure to deliver within restrictive timetables and budgets.

We too recognize to comprehensively address education and work dilemmas requires macro level interventions including real educational change, macro-economic reforms and labour market regulations.

HOWEVER, we also know and argue that small initiatives like our ICT Skills4Life-Work Identity can make a significant difference in building the knowledge base that Uganda needs to address the education and work challenges of young people.


[1] For and on my behalf of  MYCAREERUGANDA  in pursuance of our independent research for local knowledge production

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MY CAREER UGANDA is a social enterprise dedicated to delivering innovative career, professional and learning support solutions. Better education and social transformation products and services is our cardinal domain. We serve and work with individual and institutional clients to move to the pinnacle of their performance capabilities!

CONTACT
  • P.O. Box 34859 Kampala Uganda
    Plot 3 Republic Street, Triangle Zone Njeru Municipality, Uganda
  • + 256-772-403-281
  • info@mycareeruganda.org
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