By John Masaba
Government has added agricultural sciences on the list of modularised vocational courses in the country.
The latest development will affect six of the 10 agricultural science programs offered at both certificate and diploma level.
The programs include diploma in crop production and management; animal production and management; agribusiness; horticulture technology; and livestock technology and entrepreneurship. Others include agro- progressing and post harvest management.
The latest move by government is in a bid to increase flexibility in the teaching and learning of agricultural courses as one of the ways to address skills deficiencies in the agricultural sector.
The sector employs approximately 72% of the Ugandan population and contributes about 32% to the GDP, but it is also one of the most unproductive sectors, due to a number problems including shortage of manpower, according to the Uganda Bureau of statistics.
Speaking to journalists in Ntinda, Kampala, on Friday, Onesmus Oyesigye, the Uganda Business and Technical Examinations (UBTEB) executive secretary, said the development of the assessment for the programs was done with support from 12 participants from the world of work, private practitioners (farmers), Uganda Veterinary Board, Makerere University, Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries (MAAIF), and Uganda Veterinary Assocation.
Others included National Agricultural Research Organisation, Agriculture Sector Skills councils, Local Government and eight participants from agricultural colleges.
“On completion of each module, the board will issue a certificate of competence to all successful candidates and the final award (a national certificate or national diploma) shall be obtained after completion of all modules in a particular program,” he said.
National Development Plan III
The modularisation of TVET courses started in January 2022 with 27 programs offered by Uganda Community Polytechnics and Technical Institutes across the country.
These included welding and metal fabrication, motor vehicle mechanics, block laying and concrete practice, plumbing and pipe fitting, carpentry, and joinery.
Also included were community polytechnic certificate in agriculture, garment design and construction, fabric and interior design, food preparation and processing, leather work and shoe making, business studies (accounting), business studies (computer studies), Business studies (store keeping) and community polytechnic certificate in agriculture (CPCA).
The modularised assessment is a result of National Development Plan III, which emphasises that training and assessment of programmes should be in a modular form. Other policy documents include the National Resistance Movement manifesto and TVET policy 2019.
Jalia Nassaza, the UBTEB Vocational Education Manager, said the modules will last between two to six months depending on the program content.
She noted that courses taught under the assessment are essentially open to everyone for as along as they have interest.
” We know that almost every Ugandan practices farming, but some times we are doing it wrongly. Join any agricultural institute and tell them what you want to study and it will be given to you,” she said.
Julius Mama, who represented the agricultural colleges in developing the programs, said the modularised course will ensure that one who has studied a particular agricultural science course has a clear career and employment path.
“Previously, there was confusion. When one has finished a course in agriculture, people would think you can do everything. Even employers did not have a clear line of who to employ, but with modularisation that training line is now clear,” he said, explaining that this is because the modules will highly focused on what is needed in the world of work.
He added that the arrangement will also address low completion rates, which has been the case under the old course arrangement.
“If you did not have money to enrol for the whole course you would not enrol in the past, but under modularisation, you will enrol for particular module, finish and go make money and come back when you get money for another module,” he said.
Ronald Kunnya, an instructor at Rwetanga Farm Institute in Mbarara, said the new course design will increase employability of the country’s youth in the sector due to the increased course specialisation while James Higenyi, Principal Veterinary Officer in charge of Public Health, MAAIF said it will help address skills gap in the sector.
He noted that it (skills gaps) is partly the reason why up to now it has become difficult to solve problems like the drug resistant ticks that are wreaking havoc in many parts of the country.
“When we continue with the traditional system that requires that human resource takes years (in tra ining) before participating in the sector, it creates a deficiency in critical labour force,” he said.
Oyesigye revealed the board has also developed assessment guides for 25 technical and business and business (humanities) diploma programs with support from the expert.
“As a board, we are focused on delivering as TVET (technical and vocational education and training)assessment that enable production of competent graduates,” he said.
He revealed that to achieve this, the board has formed the TVET assessment Working Groups with members of the industry and Sector Skills councils of Uganda.
Modularisation is teaching vocational courses in modules.
It is one of the reforms of the TVET Policy 2019 that requires requires that teaching of vocational courses is highly flexible in order to ease transfer of vocational skills in order to meet the country development needs.
What Are Mudules?
For example, instead of teaching motor vehicle as a two year course, the course is broken down in small unit (modules) as independent units (I can study car electrical wiring as a module).
At the end of every unit, which could last anywhere between two to six months, the learner is given a certificate of competence (completion). With this they present to the employer for employment.
Later, they can come back and study another module, until such a time when they complete the entire course and receive a national diploma or certificate.
Unlike previously, modularised courses are available to all regardless of the qualification. A lawyer in need of a particular skill in motor vehicle can enrol and study to satisfy their knowledge needs.