The chairperson of the Industrial Training Council (ITC), Dr Joseph Muvawala, has expressed concern about ongoing move by the ministry of Education to merge the Directorate of Industrial Training (DIT) and Uganda Business and Technical Examinations Board (UBTEB) into one examination and assessment body.
Muvawala argues that the mandates of the two institutions are clearly cut out but there is still ongoing confusion on the roles performed by the two institutions.
“Upon review of the draft Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) policy, I was disturbed to learn that that DIT features so latently and there are deep-seated proposals that it should be merged with UBTEB,” Muvawala said.
He made the remarks during the release of the 7th series of the Occupational and Modular Assessment results conducted by the DIT at the office of the president conference hall on Wednesday March 7.
He explained that while UBTEB conducts formal assessments, DIT conducts in-company and apprenticeship assessments and recognition of prior learning. This, he said, implies that the DIT complements roles of UBTEB and the two institutions do not conflict at all.
“The merger is therefore not reasonable as proposed in the TVET policy document. The objective of the policy should therefore not be to kill the DIT but allow it to perform its mandate,” said the National Planning Authority executive director.
The state minister for Higher Education, Dr John C. Muyingo, who presided over the release, told The Observer that the ministry has no idea about the proposal as highlighted by Muvawala.
“Where did you get these proposals? I don’t know where you get these things. That proposal [to merge UBETEB and DIT] has not come anywhere close to us,” Muyingo said.
“The issue is that if such an issue ever happens, we have to discuss it first with relevant stakeholders. Don’t even waste time talking about that proposal.”
According to Muyingo, once the two institutions are merged, government is likely to lose the quality assurance element which is key to improving the value and competitiveness of Uganda’s goods and services.
When tasked to explain further about the proposal, Muvawala declined to speak after this reporter told him the minister had opposed its existence.
“If the minister has spoken, I don’t add anything. You just take what he said,” he said.
However, a draft institutional framework for skills development seen by The Observer indicates that: “the fact that DIT is both regulating and awarding qualifications creates a conflict of interest which must be resolved…”
It adds that since DIT and UBTEB are ‘generalist’ awarding bodies, merging the assessment and awarding functions in the two institutions may also simplify the qualifications landscape from an employer’s perspective.
“Each party undoubtedly has specific skills, knowledge and experience from which the other could benefit. The longstanding dislocation of two different types of assessment and accreditation could be overcome [with a merger],” reads part of the framework.
While presenting the results, DIT director Patrick Byakatonda noted an improvement in performance and candidature from 17,028 in 2016 to 22,526 in 2017.
The assessment in four sectors of agriculture, construction, manufacturing, and tourism and hospitality was conducted between October 16 and December 1, 2017 from 708 assessment centres in 38 occupations across the country.
Of the 22,526 candidates, 12,240 (54.3%) were female and 10,286 (45.7%) male. In terms of performance for the full occupational assessment (level I, II & III), at least 7,907 were registered.
Of these, 7,206 (91.1%) were successful, 85 were referred, 293 failed and 323 were absent. Under modular (non-formal) assessment, 14,619 candidates were assessed of which 11,688 (79.95%) passed, 400 failed and 2,531 were absent.
Byakatonda said coordination reports revealed that missing candidates had initially completed training but joined the world of work without attaching importance to assessment.
In a speech read by Muyingo on behalf of the Education minister, Janet Museveni challenged the DIT to put in place strategies that will encourage more skilled Ugandans to have their competences certified. This is in addition to initiating an Information and Assessment System to help in tracking the assessment and placement of successful candidates in the job market.
“It is gratifying to learn that you have started on the process of computerising the system to achieve this goal. I pledge increased support from my ministry to enable you execute your mandate,” Museveni said.
“We want to ensure that all skilled workers get an opportunity to be assessed and certified even if they never got a chance to go to school.”
According to Museveni, certifying people from the non-formal sector will further their chances of entry into the labour market on equal terms as qualified skilled workers.
She encouraged successful candidates to add value and ensure quality of their products in order to enhance competitiveness both within the local and regional markets.