Uganda is facing a renewed awareness within government and among key policy makers of the critical role technical and vocational education play in national development.
The government’s commitment to skilling Ugandans with business, technical and vocational training opens a new window of hope for thousands of unemployed youth lacking employable skills required in the job market. This however is coming after decades of alienation suffered by the sector, partly because colonial and post-colonial education policies did not set out to teach people to acquire productive skills.
Unfortunately, the lack of technical skills affected the development of a middle class in Uganda. A skilled middle class would have been job creators rather than job seekers. The system of formal vocational skills training in Uganda however can be traced back to the late 1940’s when the World War II former camps were converted into skills training centers to re-train demobilized soldiers and youth to attain skills for survival.
Between 1947 and 1972, a series of legislative framework covering areas like apprenticeship training and the standards of assessment of skills by artisans in various trades were developed. In 1952, the Artisan Training Organization was established in Ministry of Labour to in particular help in the resettlement of World
War II veterans. Later on in 1953, the trade testing and guidance section was established to assess skills competencies of persons being trained.
In 1967, the Japanese government offered the Uganda government the building of a modern vocational training institute at Nakawa to increase the production of craftsmen and women and retraining the same to meet the industrial demands. The government of Uganda later in 1968 came up with a strategy of strengthening the industrial vocational training schemes but the idea did not take off until 1972, when the Employment Act was repealed and the Industrial Training Decree No. 2 of 1972 together with the Industrial Apprenticeship Training Regulations were promulgated.
This made apprenticeship training more prominent than ever before especially among the manufacturing, repair industries and organizations. This journey would take another 36 years before Uganda’s Parliament enacted a much broader and decisive legal framework under the Business, Technical and Vocational Education and Training (BTVET) Act that was passed in 2008.
The new law provides for BTVET institutional and legal regime and defines the scope and levels of different BTVET programmes and the roles of different providers. The enactment of the BTVET Act 2008, a year later paved way for the establishment of the Uganda Business and Technical Examinations Board (UBTEB) under Part VI, Section 26, Sub section 1 of the BTVET Act, sub section 1; and operationalised by the Statutory Instrument 2009 No. 9. World over, technical, vocational Education and Training (TVET) is given a lot of consideration and emphasis as a strategy of skills development.
In the case of Uganda alongside TVET, Business Education and Training as captured in the BTVET Act 2008 is given equal prominence in the provision of skills training and development. Therefore TVET in Uganda is used simultaneously with BTVET and as emphasized by UNESCO in 1997, TVET is all about imparting practical skills, know-how and understanding
On is on this premise that UBTEB, a corporate national professional examinations board finds its bearing with the mandate to streamline, regulate, coordinate and conduct credible examinations and award Certificates and Diplomas in the Business, Technical, Vocational and other specialized training professions that fall under the UBTEB jurisdiction as prescribed by the law.
The management and administration of examinations was fragmented before UBTEB was established, as some examinations were being conducted by Makerere University Business School (MUBS) – Nakawa, others by Uganda National Examinations Board – (UNEB), while others were conducted by individual institutions dotted in different parts of the country.
As a consequence, there was lack of uniformity in the Awards of Certificates from these different institutions. This made it very difficult to standardize qualifications offered by the different institutions offering courses in the Business, Technical and other specialized fields like Agriculture, Fisheries, Meteorology, Lands and Survey among others.
On this premise, UBTEB will emphasize Competence Based Education and Training (CBET) where training with production is mandatory, and is part of the examinations.
The UBTEB mandate is thus derived from the provision of the BTVET Act which distinguishes between the functions of training provisions and quality assurance.
The BTVET Act also describes the criteria and access requirements for BTVET programmes and establishes institutional and management arrangements for defining qualifications (Standards, testing and certification) and for providing training in formal and non formal institutions in Uganda.
The Board’s entry is therefore a restatement of Government’s commitment to support technical skills development and training as reflected in the National Development Plan 2010/2011-2014/15 and the BTVET Strategic plan 2010-2020.