Non-Formal Education and Livelihood Skills Training Programme (NFELSTP)
Country Profile: Uganda
English and Swahili
|Total Expenditure on Education as % of GDP|
|Access to Primary Education – Total Net Intake Rate (NIR)|
|Youth Literacy Rate (15-24 years)|
|Adult Literacy Rate (15 years and over, 1995-2004)|
|Programme Title||Non-Formal Education and Livelihood Skills Training Programme (NFELSTP)|
|Implementing Organization||Uganda Youth Development Link (UYDEL)|
|Language of Instruction||English and local languages|
|Programme Partners||Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development, Makerere University (Department of Social Work and Social Administration), AYIVU Rural Participatory Development (ARUPIDE).|
|Date of Inception||2004–05|
Context and background
The provision of educational opportunities to all citizens is central to Uganda’s developmental poverty alleviation, social empowerment and transformation strategies. Various educational programmes and policies including the Universal Primary Education (UPE, 1997), the Universal Secondary Education (USE, 2007) and the Functional Adult Literacy Programme (FALP, a component of the national Poverty Eradication Action Plan – PEAP) have been instituted in recent years. Although beset by severe challenges such as the lack of resources and sustained political will, these programmes have had some positive educational impact. For instance, as a result of the UPE which provided free and compulsory primary education, the national primary school enrolment rate rose dramatically from 2.5 million in 1997 to 7.2 million in 2000. By 2005, the net intake rate (NIR) in primary education had risen to 66%. However, these programmes have not been accessible to all, especially to children and youth living in remote and marginalised communities. According to a recent study, the Functional Adult Literacy Programme (FALP) which endeavoured to promote youth and adult functional literacy, was only accessible to about 5% of the potential beneficiaries while only about 37.4% of children who completed primary school under the UPE programme were able to access secondary education. Furthermore, the secondary school system hardly provides learners with adequate vocational skills training opportunities. Essentially therefore, most youth – particularly those living in marginalised rural and urban-slum communities – are forced either to drop-out-of or to graduate from the school system lacking the practical skills necessary for securing viable employment and livelihoods. This has made the youth more vulnerable to exploitative labour practices and to engaging in risky antisocial behaviour including drug abuse and prostitution which expose them to HIV/AIDs infection. In light of this and in an effort to create viable learning and livelihood opportunities for vulnerable youth, the Uganda Youth Development Link (UYDEL) – an NGO founded in 1993 – initiated the Non-Formal Education and Livelihood Skills Training Programme (NFELSTP) in 2004 with financial and technical support from UNESCO.
The Non-Formal Education and Livelihood Skills Training Programme (NFELSTP)
As noted above, the NFELSTP targets out-of-school and socioeconomically vulnerable youth (such as orphans, street youth, sex workers, domestic workers) from marginalised rural and urban-slum communities. Since its inception in 2004, the programme has been implemented in Kampala and Arua districts (urban and rural respectively).
In order to empower vulnerable and marginalised youth, UYDEL provides them with vocational and livelihood training in different skills or trades including hairdressing, tailoring, motor mechanics, carpentry, electronics, welding, and cookery.
In addition, UYDEL also provides programme participants with life skills training with particular focus on health issues including HIV/AIDS, reproductive health, nutrition, child-rearing, peer-counselling, drug and alcohol (substance) abuse. Essentially therefore, the NFELSTP is an integrated vocational/livelihood and life skills training programme which primarily endeavours to empower socioeconomically marginalised and vulnerable youth and, by extension, their equally disadvantaged families and communities.
Aims and objectives
- To equip vulnerable youth from marginalised communities with entrepreneurial and related functional literacy skills
- To create sustainable learning opportunities that nurture youth empowerment and socioeconomic inclusion
- To provide out-of-school youth from marginalised communities with marketable livelihood/vocational skills in order to enhance their employment (formal and/or informal) opportunities
- To empower youth to establish viable income generating projects (poverty alleviation)
- To break the cycle of youth marginalisation and vulnerability that undermines individual, community and national development prospects
- To raise awareness of and combat the spread of HIV/AIDS
Programme implementation: Approaches and methods
Professionals, including academics and development specialists, play a critical role in the development and implementation of UYDEL’s programmes. Similarly, during the development of the NFELSTP, UYDEL worked closely with professionals from Makerere University, UNESCO, the Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development (MoGLSD) and various NGOs and CBOs. Noteworthy, professionals played a central role in the development of the project curriculum, teaching-learning materials and implementation strategies as well as in monitoring and evaluating the entire project. This cooperation helped to strengthen the capacity of UYDEL in the implementation of programme. Apart from professionals, ‘ordinary’ community members and activists were also actively consulted and involved in the identification of learners, artisans and implementation of the programme.
Recruitment of facilitators and local artisans
UYDEL has recruited two professional social workers who act as the key programme facilitators. In particular, the facilitators are responsible for community mobilisation, coordinating and monitoring programme activities, implementing public awareness campaigns and identifying and placing learners with local artisans who are skilled practitioners in selected vocational trades. Local youth, their guardians and community-based parents’ support groups also participate in identifying suitable artisans near their homes. These artisans are visited by the social workers to assess their willingness and capacity to train the youth. Based on the social workers’ assessments and recommendations, UYDEL then signs a memorandum of understanding with the artisans, specifying issues such as training, fees, period, and each party’s expectations. Recruited artisans are provided with basic programme orientation training and, afterwards, learners are placed with the artisans for a period of three to five months for on-site practical skills training in a field or trade of their choice. Apart from providing vocational skills training to the youth, the artisans are also entrusted with the responsibility of providing life skills training (mentorship) and it is for this reason that UYDEL often selects artisans of high moral standing, highly regarded by their communities.
Recruitment of learners
The identification, assessment and recruitment of vulnerable youth into the programme is done in different ways and by various stakeholders, including the youth themselves referring their peers to the programme, and community-based parents’ support groups, community leaders, artisans and activists identifying affected and vulnerable youth. Additionally, programme facilitators (social workers) also undertake regular visits and hold discussions with youth from marginalised rural and urban-slum communities to enlighten them about UYDEL’s non-formal education programmes. During such visits, the social workers also ascertain the identified youth’s levels of socioeconomic vulnerability, education and interest in order to screen them for appropriate vocational skills training placement. The pre-enrolment assessment, counselling and mentoring of potential learners is intended to ensure that only the most disadvantaged and thus deserving youth are enrolled into the programme as well as helping the youth to make an informed choice with regards to their potential vocational training.
Teaching-learning approaches and methods
In order to effectively equip learners with sustainable practical vocational skills, the training of learners under the NFELSTP is primarily through the use of participatory methods (i.e. action-based). To this end, all learners are placed under the mentorship of master artisans and as such, training is characterised by three major approaches: ‘learning by doing, learning by producing and learning by earning’. Learning by producing and earning is central to the training of the youth because most of them have been exposed to earning money at an early age having lived (and continuing to live) in dire conditions, including being homeless or heading households. This also explains most youth’s preference for training in trades that take a short period to complete. Additionally, participatory teaching-learning methods are also essential because most artisans and learners do not have formal education beyond primary level.
However, although the training of youth by artisans is largely informal, UYDEL and/or its partners often provide formal instruction to participants. Formal instruction – including seminars, group discussions/debates, story-telling and lectures – is primarily employed to facilitate the integration of health education into the programme. To this end, a number of easy-to-read learning materials such as booklets, pamphlets and posters have been produced to enable facilitators to effectively conduct health education classes. Some of the reading materials used include:
- Feed the Children – Uganda: an HIV/AIDS training manual for young people which was designed for community leaders, health workers and social workers to help them educate young people on HIV/AIDS related issues
- Adolescent sexual reproductive health training curriculum for young people (produced by the Ministry of Health, UNFPA and WHO)
- Peer educators training curriculum (Pathfinder – Uganda): This curriculum identifies activities, which can be undertaken by peers in order to orient them on their roles as they promote adolescent reproductive health
- Peer-to-Peer Drug Abuse Prevention Handbook (UYDEL).
Assessment of learners
The assessment of learners and evaluation of learning/training outcomes is conducted on an ongoing basis by programme facilitators or social workers, UYDEL field supervisors and master artisans. The social worker and UYDEL field supervisors conduct regular visits to the master artisans’ work places in order to assess the training progress and any challenges being encountered, as well as to ascertain the artisan’s capacity to train the youth. The social worker and UYDEL field supervisors also use the field visits to identify behavioural changes in the youths and to provide them with ongoing psychosocial counselling, support and guidance. Furthermore, the master artisans also regularly evaluate the youths’ overall behaviour, training performance and progress and present reports to UYDEL.
The NFELSTP has made a significant impact on marginalised youths’ vocational skills competencies, livelihoods and psychosocial behaviour as well as on their communities’ development and general living standards. The programme has thus become one of the major instruments of fostering individual and collective (social) empowerment and transformation. More specifically, an evaluation report by UNESCO identified the following key contributions of the programme on youth and societal development and well-being:
- Employment generation, poverty alleviation and behavioural change: a majority of the youth who completed training in various vocational trades are now gainfully employed. This has not only enabled them to be self-reliant but has also improved their quality (standard) of life. One of the programme beneficiaries testified thus: ‘I was picked by UYDEL staff when I was so poor to the extent that poverty could be seen from my face. But now I can see with a smile. I am so happy because I am self supporting and useful to my family members’. The youths’ ability to support themselves as well as to contribute to their families’ subsistence has inevitably raised their living standards, imbued them with a sense of self-worth, positive attitudes and future perspectives and improved their social standing. Furthermore, the integration of practical skills training with health education, psychosocial counselling and guidance has also improved the youths’ self-esteem and confidence. This has enabled the youths to transform their lifestyles and thus prevented them from (re-) engaging in risky antisocial behaviour as one graduate attested: ‘I left commercial sex [work after training in tailoring] and life is fantastic now. I get orders from many customers and earn about 150,000 shillings a month’. An artisan trainer gave a similar testimony: ‘The children we received were rebellious, reporting late, and could give us hard time when training them; but now they have changed greatly. We even trust them with money and they keep it’.
- Youth and community empowerment: the programme has equipped the youth with practical life and vocational (marketable) skills and as a result, they are now less vulnerable to manipulation and exploitation by employers as they are now better able to negotiate their employment conditions including levels of remuneration. Furthermore, it has also enabled youth to establish their own income generating enterprises, thereby generating more employment opportunities for other youth in their communities. In addition, public awareness about HIV/AIDs has led to discernible changes in the youths’ sexual behaviour.
- Social transformation and cohesion: the use of local artisans as youth trainers and social mentors (i.e. in the rehabilitation of vulnerable children) has helped to foster social cohesion. In addition, the programme has also inculcated the youth with a sense of social or civic responsibility which has, potentially, fostered family and cohesion as well as prevented some youth from engaging in anti-social behaviour including violent crime.
- The programme has also boasted the business activities of master artisans who can now employ more youth and provide better services to their communities.
Although the programme has had a positive impact in the lives of marginalised and vulnerable youth and their communities, it has also encountered major challenges. The UNESCO evaluation report cited above revealed the following key challenges:
- Lack of resources: programme funding from UNESCO has been limited. For example, the grant from UNESCO did not cover the costs for the purchase of training tools, clothing and protective gear and transport to training centres. This has had a negative impact on youths’ ability to attend classes as most of them are very poor and cannot afford these costs on their own. There is also a lack of resources to support graduates to start their own income generating activities.
- Some local artisans that are engaged by the programme have limited equipment/tools. This has had a negative impact on their ability to effectively train the youth and has also shifted the burden to UYDEL by way meeting extra costs of buying tools for the youth to train with.
- Time limitations: the trainees are supposed to complete the skills training programme in (on average) three months. This period is too short to enable trainees to effectively acquire practical skills especially in view of the fact that some of them lack the basic and necessary literacy skills.
- Some of the trades such as carpentry and motor vehicle mechanics have seasonal customers. This affects the learning process since the trainees learn as they earn. Eventually it creates redundancy with the youth having to wait for a new customer to place an order before receiving any form of training.
- Some trainees are demotivated by the fact that some artisans do not pay them despite the contributions they make to the growth of their businesses. This has led to perceptions that the artisans are motivated by making profit rather than assisting the youth to improve their lives.
- Artisans have also raised concerns that some youth who dropped out of school or never attended school tend to have difficulties in grasping the basic practical concepts necessary for skills acquisition. Such trainees tend to spend more time acquiring a skill, which inevitably increases programme costs.
A number of lessons have been learnt during the course of the project implementation. These include:
- Community mobilisation and involvement of key community leaders, parents and the youth themselves is central to the success and sustainability of non-formal educational programmes. Most importantly, active community participation is essential in identifying the most vulnerable and deserving youth from the communities. Professional networking and collaboration: the involvement of professionals from diverse fields is critical for the success of integrated youth-centric educational programmes
- Integrated programming: because marginalised youth have multiple socioeconomic problems, it is imperative to institute holistic and integrated learning which addresses this. For example, literacy and business skills are central to enabling trainees to establish their own enterprises. Such an integrated approach is also more attractive to the youth and their parents.
- Cost effectiveness: the use of local master artisans instead of formal vocational institutions is a more cost effective (cheaper) approach of implementing non-formal youth educational programmes. It not only helps to cater for more vulnerable youth but also serves to expose trainees to specific realistic work conditions and the challenges they are likely to meet. This enables them to learn how to effectively deal with such challenges. The trainees earn a small income which helps to improve their living standards and motivates them to continue participating in the programme. Furthermore, the local artisans understand the situations these youth are in and are better able to provide appropriate mentorship.
- Regular monitoring: a social worker needs to make regular visits and hold meetings with local artisans to monitor the progress of training. This also helps to monitor problems during the training and to find solutions.
- Regular counselling is essential in fostering successful youth behavioural change.
- UNESCO Evaluation Report (2006) Non-Formal Education and Livelihood Skills for Marginalised Street and Slum Youth in Uganda.
Uganda Youth Development Link (UYDEL)
Sir Apollo Kaggwa Road,
P.O. Box 12659, Kampala, Uganda,
Email: User: uydel
Host: (at) utlonline.co.ug
Last update: December 2011