PIC Women display their products after a training in value addition by Kinawataka Women initiative . Photo by Agnes Nantambi
The Private Sector Foundation Uganda (PSFU), an apex body of private entrepreneurs, has asked the Government to compel schools to offer vocation education from Primary to instill a sense of love to vocational skills among the learners.
Ruth Musoke, the head of the World Bank funded Skills Development Facility project of the Private sector Foundation (SDF-PSFU) believes that vocational training was earlier not adopted because parents did not encourage their children.
"Our parents did not believe in vocational education, but if we have initiative that allows the young people to appreciate vocational studies at a tender age, we would have groomed movers of this nation," she said.
Speaking during the awarding of certificates to women in Mukono who underwent a four-months-training in value addition using straws, Musoke said the initiative addresses issues of environmental conservation while creating jobs at the same time.
The training conducted by Kinawataka women initiative, helped women to learn how to make bags, mats, table mats and table covers, belts earrings, shoes watches among others
"Through this programme, children have been encouraged to do something meaningful during holidays. Many children who are idle, watching films and participate in sports betting can become very productive," she said.
Musoke believes that if vocational can help children to earn a living, and at the same time bond with their parents.
Bernedet Nanyonga, the proprietor of Kinawataka women initiative, decried lack of machines which would help them to knit the the products to match the required international standards.
She said the women are finding it hard to straighten the straws as they work which makes the work cumbersome.
"We receive many orders, both local and international, but we are not able to satisfy the market due to low production. The women use knives to straighten the straws, something which slows down the production rates,"she said.
Musoke said PSFU is yet to carry out a study on the market potential of the straw products so that they can give the group a machine which can help in pressing the straw to soften them to make different products out of it.
She said SDF, which is a pilot fund for skilling Ugandans, will give grants to companies which skills its members.
"We pledge to get for the women a machine, so that many of them can participate in making products using straws, hence enabling them to tap into the international market.
The women have made us proud because they have done a number of products and trained others. This means more women are engaging in income-generating activities, and therefore, improving their livelihood," Musoke said.
Musoke appealed to the people buying products in supermarkets to pick on products made from straw saying the gesture will empower such women. She also asked the trainers to ensure that all trainees receive certificates which can advance them to other levels.
Rebecca Kagwa, the head of Mukono Boarding Primary School's vocation department said the the school has helped pupils to develop a love for vocational studies.
"Our children have learnt to protect the environment as they earn money. They can now make belts, bags, table mats among other products, "she said.
Rev Amos Namwasa of Dustan Parish church in Mukono district applauded the women for the initiative saying it will transform lives of the women.