By John Kasozi
SIMON Peter Kamyaâ€™s frequent visits to his elder brother and paternal uncleâ€™s workshops during his Senior Six vacation left him yearning to do a more practical course.
â€œI was captivated by the way they harvested money.
My brother who had studied a brick-laying and concrete practice course and obtained a Uganda Junior Technical Certificate did very well financially,â€ says Kamya.
His uncle, who serviced and repaired milling engines, also earned a lot of money.
The two inspired him so much that when asked by his brother to take up the vocational course at St. Simon Vocation Training Centre Rwenkobe in Hoima district, he agreed.
From 1992 to 1995, Kamya worked hard at his automobile mechanics course. After his graduation, he joined a garage for industrial training and later moved on to Crown Motors on William Street.
Shortly after that, he joined Lonroh from 1997 to 2000 as a fitter/mechanic supervisor in the ginnery machinery section. He moved on to the Ministry of Local Government from 2000 to 2006.
In 2007, he joined Car and General, a company dealing in motorcars, where he works to date.
Learning on job
â€œThe technical expertise on servicing and repairing diesel engines that I have acquired from different workshops has built my experience in tractor repairs,â€ Kamya says.
He adds that the local government has done more by exposing him to heavy machinery like earth-movers, bull-dozers, truck excavators, Massey Ferguson tractors and lorries.
â€œAll these diesel engines have one thing in common. They have a similar make to the TAFE-tractors.â€
The need for practical skills
Kamya feels that the reliance on the colonial education system is one of the biggest disservices to Ugandan children, in that it gives them a job-seeking orientation. â€œPrimary school pupils and university graduates alike all end up as job-seekers.â€
He says students interested in studying engineering or medicine do not necessarily need to go to the university first. Rather, he says, they can enrol at a vocational institute and upgrade from certificate, to ordinary diploma, a higher diploma and finally obtain a degree.
â€œI have been able to build myself a house and pay tuition for my children without any income from other sources but my skills,â€ he says.
Another Car and General mechanic, Arthur Sserunga concurs.
After acquiring his ordinary diploma in mechanical engineering at the then Kyambogo Polytechnic (Kyambogo University) in 2000, Sserunga worked with a number of companies, including the renowned BMK heavy plant division based at Hotel Africana and Katwe.
After a short stint with other companies, he shifted to Car and General in July 2008.
â€œI like to work on tractors. Even though the technology changes quite a lot, it is simple. Anyone can learn to repair a tractor,â€ he says.
Since Sserunga took up employment, he has been able to save money and put up two houses, including paying school fees for his siblings. This year, he intends to support one of his brothers joining Makerere University.