FRED Mugema, a self-employed electrical technician laughs at those who think that Aâ€™Level is the only choice they have. There are several marketable options an Oâ€™Level leaver can do. These include nursing, teaching, business and mechanical courses among others.
After his Oâ€™Levels, Mugema studied at Nakawa Vocational Institute from 1987 to 1989 and trained in repairing and servicing devices like electrical motors, transformers and generators.
Thereafter, Mugema, who wanted to join Kyambogo University, was let down by the high tuition fees and yet he had to look after his siblings.
â€œAfter my course at Nakawa, I stayed behind and worked at the institute. Some years later, I took on a job with Katwe Dynamo. My first assignment was to repair a motor, which I handled successfully,â€ he explains.
Mugema worked with the company for eight years and in 2000, became self employed though he still gives a hand to Katwe Dynamo whenever his services are needed.
â€œ Parents should advise their children to take up vocational courses. You are assured of a better future forever,â€ says Mugema .
Annet Nabude, another Oâ€™Level leaver from Bugobbiro village, Mbale district, says during her secondary education, she always wanted to do a tailoring and cutting garment course.
Nabude being from a poor family, sought help from Judith Apilo, the Director of Uganda Gender Rights Foundation and was admitted in 2007.
â€œThe course has made me overcome most of my woes. Alleviation of poverty began during my school holidays. I made childrenâ€™s and womenâ€™s clothes. This enabled me to meet most of my basic needs,â€ says Nabude.
Christine Kayendeke Wabuna, a voluntary instructor in Namatala, Mbaleâ€™s Industrial Area points out that teaching tailoring is not easy. â€œCutting and tailoring are hard subjects. Imparting skills takes a lot of time. But students have always coped.â€
â€œThe one-year course for Oâ€™Level leavers begins with theory classes, spiced with practicals like measuring, cutting and peddling of the sewing machine. Our time table is similar to other government vocational institutes,â€ Wabuna explains.
Engineer Henry Francis Okinyal, the commissioner for business, technical, vocational education and training in the Ministry of Education, says Senior Four leavers can take up courses in nursing, teaching business, technical, vocational education and training in public and private institutions.
Ilahi Mansoor, the assistant commissioner in technical education, says there are 34 government and 206 private institutes countrywide that admit Oâ€™Level leavers with a minimum entry point of five passes in sciences including Mathematics, English and Physics.
If you are interested in nursing, you could join Arua School of Nursing which offers a three-year enrolled comprehensive nursing course. One only needs passes in English, Maths, Physics, Biology and Chemistry at Oâ€™Level at the same sitting.
Butabika School of Psychiatric Clinical and Nursing Officers offers a two and three-year mental health upgrading course and minimum qualification of passes in English, Maths, Biology, Physics and chemistry at â€˜Oâ€™ Level for nursing respectively.
Jinja, Kabale and Lira schools of nursing officers, offer a three-year enrolled comprehensive nursing course. The admission requirement is at a pass in English, Maths, Biology, Physics and Chemistry at Oâ€™Level.
The School of Public Health and Dental Officers offers a two-year dental techniques with at least credits in English, maths, biology, physics and chemistry at Oâ€™Level.
The Survey and Physical planning school offers certificates in surveying and physical planning requiring â€˜Oâ€™ Level credits in math, English, physics and chemistry.
If you are interested in teaching, you can join the Teacherâ€™s College in the nearest district. This will earn you a Grade III certificate which is enough to help you get a teaching job.Other options may include Colleges of Commerce or other business institutes.
The courses offered in most institutes include carpentry and joinery, block laying and concrete practice, tailoring and cutting garment, motor vehicle mechanics, electrical installation and fitting, welding, metal fabrication and plumbing, agriculture, leather and tanning.
The duration of programmes in all these institutes is two years for the first phase and one year for the second phase. At the end of part one and part two, the graduant receives craft certificate part one and two respectively.
Options if you did not make it to Aâ€™level