Career guidance is key

On July 30, Uganda National Examinations Board (Uneb) released results for Uganda Certificate of Education (UCE) 2020 exams. Many parents, teachers, students and school administrators are celebrating. 

Although passing exams is inevitable in some schools, in others, it is a struggle. Relatedly, students tend to pass certain subjects in some schools, and not others. 

In Lira City, there’s been stiff competition between private and government-aided schools. It should be noted that tycoons in Lira City have invested significantly in the education sub-sector, both in secondary schools, and post-secondary institutions. Results, therefore, mean a lot to them, financially. 

After results, teachers and parents should be discussing career options, personal interests of these students, and school fees for the next level of education. That’s not the case currently.  Instead, there’s now online applications (which is not bad), and numerous radio adverts, with private school proprietors using the results to market their schools.

Over the years, there has been too much emphasis placed on need for students to pass exams, and little or no attention is accorded to the learning process and student experiences. In some schools, results are everything, and the directors go to extremes to make sure they get good results. Again, little or no attention is accorded to what happens before or after exams. 

Now that Primary Leaving Examinations (PLE) and UCE have been released, and the dust of celebrations settles, I believe that we should now switch our focus to career guidance. 

Most schools have departments of career guidance and counselling, but there are numerous challenges that limit them from fulfilling their mandate. Some of these challenges include little funding, inadequate information, and limited guidance from the Ministry of Education and Sports (MoES). 

According to MoES’ career guidance handbook, the President writes that “students should be informed about available opportunities and also the skills required, in the current and future labour markets.” 

According to OECD, career guidance refers to services and activities intended to assist individuals, of any age and at any point throughout their lives, to make educational, training and occupational choices and to manage their careers.

Which school or subject combination to pursue at A-level. Which course to study, for those to choose vocational pathway. Whether to repeat or not. Career guidance helps clarify these issues.  By and large, career guidance and assistance is in three levels namely primary and secondary level, (further divided into O-Level and A-Level), and tertiary. At primary level, it’s common to ask children, “What do you want to become in future?”

However, after P7 or S4, one should have a solid dream, and what they intend to do to achieve it. Career guidance helps support students all through because the choices that they make have major implications for later education and work options. 

Therefore, as one moves from one level of education to another, career guidance needs to be part of the process that helps them to make a smooth transition. Schools administrators should support these departments, and career guidance teachers should step up their game. 

Considering the long school closures and the lockdowns, occasioned by the Covid-19 pandemic, and new lower secondary curriculum, it is important for parents, and teachers to provide sufficient career guidance, information and related support to young adults. We should not only take pride in the excellent results our schools or children get.

We should equally take pride in enabling academic progression, student experiences, and later on, career achievement. 

I believe that career guidance is very essential, and should continue, for both in-school and out-of-school children and young adults. Career guidance enables us transform results into skills. Above all, career guidance enables young people to achieve their dreams, and live long, meaningful, impactful lives after schooling.             

This article was also published on Saturday, August 07, 2021 in the Daily Monitor


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