KAMPALA – FEMNET, also known as African Women’s Development and Communication Network with support from Achidna giving foundation has concluded a 4-day workshop in Kampala in which they engaged with different stakeholders and young girls on issues affecting their access to Technical and Vocational Education and Training – TVET.
Under the Project aimed at Influencing Inclusive access to Girls’ Education in TVET Centers, FEMNET sought solutions for issues affecting girls, why they aren’t in TVET institutions but also to equip them with the ability to speak up for themselves on issues affecting them.
Ms. Muthoki Nzioka – Girls and Young Women Policy and Program Assistant at FEMNET told the press that there is a need to equip young girls and young women with the necessary skills so that they can join the workforce like any other gender.
“That’s why we also invited other stakeholders to come along; we had government officials we had CSOs because all these people are involved in working with girls and young women.”
She noted that they are working outside the box to bring along stakeholders who can support the girls even after they’re done with their education and are starting their entrepreneurial journeys.
“So we are looking forward to bringing on board partners who will support the girls throughout because at the end of the day, the goal is to break the poverty chain, to have women who are independent.”
The girls revealed that they are challenged in various ways like ‘gender stereotypes and cultural beliefs.’
“We face discrimination and limited access to TVET opportunities due to deeply ingrained gender stereotypes and social norms,” said Ms. Hadijah Nanyanjo – a beneficiary from the Kabalaga one-stop youth center who presented a position paper by the girls and young women representatives from six different TVET centers during the three-days meeting held at fairway hotel.
They say that TVET institutions in Uganda often lack the necessary infrastructure to support students with disabilities, particularly girls, making it difficult for them to access education and training opportunities.
They also decried the lack of information and awareness, noting that many girls in remote and rural areas are not aware of TVET opportunities and the benefits of pursuing them, thus limiting their participation in these programs.
“TVET institutions in Uganda often have poor infrastructure and limited resources that lead to poor practical training quality, aggravated by inadequate government funding and support, the situation is further worsened by corruption and mismanagement of funds,” said Nanyonjo.
The girls also decried the absence of safeguarding policies in Uganda TVETS which puts girls and young women (GYW) at risk of abuse and exploitation.
“GYW in TVET institutions have found themselves being sexually exploited by other stakeholders, and without a proper reporting mechanism to fall back on, they find themselves exposed and vulnerable.”
They asked the government to make intentional efforts toward raising awareness among communities and stakeholders on the importance of TVET education for girls and creating awareness about the opportunities available.
They also called upon the government to make sexual harassment and safeguarding policies mandatory in all TVET institutions and enforce their implementation and popularization.
“The government should invest in the development of TVET infrastructure and provide adequate resources such as modem equipment, tools and materials necessary for practical training to ensure the quality of our training,” they said.
GYW want the government to promote mentorship programs and provide role models for girls to inspire and encourage them to pursue TVET careers.
They also want mandatory insurance for TVET students sponsored by the government and strong policies to track all the money that goes to TVETs and severe punishment for administrators who misappropriate money meant for TVETS, but also tax exemption for equipment used for training in TVETs.
Mr. Mondo Kyateeka, the commissioner in charge of children’s affairs at the Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development commended FEMNET for supporting the disadvantaged girls from different slums around Kampala.
He urged the GYW to take advantage of existing government programs after the training like the youth livelihood program, Operation wealth creation, Emyoga, and others to support themselves and grow.
“We shall give all the support in terms of giving them information on what to do and I’m going to talk to the people managing the program to ensure that different ministries will be given an opportunity to come and talk to these girls while training.”
On the high cost of equipment, Mondo noted that they’re exempted from taxes to enable all the institutions afford them.
“Once you’re bringing them for purposes of teaching, they are tax-free, but also what we do as a government is to link these young girls to organizations that can come in and support with equipment.”
“Ideally, the best thing would have been that once you train them, you can give them you know, the kit so that they can start what they have learned,” he noted.
Mondo also encouraged the girls to form groups through which they can be helped better.
On the issue of sexual abuse and sexual exploitation, he urged the girls to be strong enough and report the cases as it is the only way to get justice.
“The issue is reporting these cases but it’s done and in good time, the law will take its course. Failure to report, it becomes extremely difficult for the government to take on the culprits.”
Discussion about this post