KAMPALA – Findings by Platform for Labor action indicate that hidden costs within UPE and UCE continue to hamper education thereby pushing many children into forced labor.
This is according to the executive director at the Platform for Labor Action, Ms. Grace Mukwaya who made the remarks during the graduation ceremony of over 100 girls who have over the last 6 months undergone skills training from the Platform for Labor Action Training and Skilling centre located in Kyebando.
“Children who are involved in child labor miss out on the developmental processes, in a long run, they become unable to continue with the developmental processes of the communities where they are. So, we withdraw children either from the verge of exploitation or those already in the exploitative forms of labor including those who are trafficked, we put these children into schools.”
Ms. Mukwaya wondered that even when the government introduced enabling education programs, it is still unaffordable for many.
“We have universal primary education, universal secondary education, government sponsorship at tertiary levels. We sit and wonder why even with those government programs, people do not have access to them, especially the poorest. This is so, because for example, when you look at USE, there are hidden costs, fees for meals, uniform, development fee, those monies add up.”
She noted that if such charges are not eliminated, many children will end up in forced labor while others will be trafficked.
According to the organization that focuses on protecting labor rights, many parents, especially in rural communities, cannot meet some charges including building fees that are collected by school administrators.
President Yoweri Museveni has in the recent past complained about such charges saying they are responsible for the low competition rates, especially in primary schools.
The government through the Directorate of Industrial Training encourages parents and students to embrace vocational training as part of the ongoing efforts to address the high rates of unemployment and lack of adequate skilled personnel in the country
Severino Hakiba Bataringaya, the principal qualification officer at the directorate of Industrial Training notes that vocational training that is now being extended to the level of senior three has many benefits including solving the unemployment situation in the country but also improve on the basket of skills in the country.
“This training is relevant, even we delayed. If we had started long ago, Uganda would have gone very far.”
He says that Uganda has been challenged because people have been reluctant to technology and vocational education.
“The clothes we put on, the shoes, the buildings all are done by these skilled people. By embracing it then it means Uganda will move very fast.”
Most of the girls that have received this training are former child laborers rescued from different parts of the country by the Platform for Labor action.
Mukwaya says that the girls have been empowered in order to avoid being exploited because they will now create their own jobs.