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KYAMBOGO UNIVERSITY

SCHOOL OF POSTGRADUATE STUDIES AND RESEARCH


FACULTY OF VOCATIONAL STUDIES
Masters in Vocational Pedagogy

Transfer of Knowledge and Skills in Vocational Training


Institutions in Uganda.

Sam Patrick Ogwang (2009/HD/012/MVP)

NOMA
AN END OF YEAR I EXAM PROJECT SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL
FULFILMENT FOR THE AWARD OF THE DEGREE OF MASTERS IN
VOCATIONAL PEDAGOGY.

December 2009
i

Abstract

Vocational education existed in Africa long before the coming of the western

civilization. Education was informal at home and from the community. The coming of

the missionaries brought with it formal academic and later vocational education. The

missionaries wanted converts who could read and write and skilled persons to work in

their establishments. In Uganda, the protectorate governments later took over the

academic education at the expense of vocational education. This developed negative

attitude in the citizens that vocational education were for the poor, disadvantaged and

academically impoverished persons. Unfortunately, the advent of the western

civilization rubbished the indigenous knowledge that existed, and thus local

knowledge and skill became marginalized in the society of the learned. As time went

on, the importance of vocational education became evident and government had to

make a turn to start promoting the teaching of vocational skills in schools. However,

the curriculum lacks linkage with the local labour market, as it was copied from the

western system. Contemporary vocational training coupled with advancement in

technology is facing challenges of tools and materials for transfer of vocational

knowledge and skills in institutions. Vocational instructors have therefore come up

with strategies to cope up with this challenge of limited training tools and materials.

Among the strategies discovered were use of local materials, production learning,

asking students to bring their own tools, sales from items produces by students and

engaging students in private work where they work in apprenticeship basis.

I identified indigenous didactics of fishing as a vocation for further research comes

June 2010.
ii

Table of Content
Abstract ......................................................................................................................... i 
Table of Content.......................................................................................................... ii 
List of Figures............................................................................................................. iii 
List of Appendix ......................................................................................................... iii 
Acknowledgement ...................................................................................................... iv 
CHAPTER ONE ..........................................................................................................1 
1.0  Introduction ....................................................................................................1 

1.1  Personal Background .....................................................................................1 

1.2  Learning Experiences in Masters in Vocational Pedagogy ...........................3 

1.3  Research Expeditions .....................................................................................4 

1.4  What were the findings? ................................................................................6 

1.5  What can be concluded from the findings?....................................................9 

CHAPTER TWO .......................................................................................................14 


2.1  Vocational Education Revisited ...................................................................14 

CHAPTER THREE: ..................................................................................................17 


3.0  Vocational Pedagogy in an African Context ..............................................17 

3.1  Introduction ..................................................................................................17 

3.1  Vocational Pedagogy in an African Context: A Fisheries Perspective.......18 

3.1.1  Environmental science ........................................................................... 20 


3.1.2  Cooperation ............................................................................................ 21 
3.1.3  Discipline ............................................................................................... 21 
3.1.4  Technical skills ...................................................................................... 21 
3.1.5  Religion .................................................................................................. 22 
3.2  Productive Learning .....................................................................................22 

3.4  Conclusion ......................................................................................................23 


3.5  Recommendation .........................................................................................23 

CHAPTER FOUR ......................................................................................................24 


4.1  My Point of Departure .................................................................................24 

4.1.1  What is missing? ..........................................................................................25 

4.1.2  What do I wish to make Known?.................................................................26 

APPENDIXES ............................................................................................................27 
LIST OF REFERENCES ..........................................................................................28 
iii

List of Figures

Figure 1: Vocational Theory Lessons in Progress at NVI; Picture extracted from mini
project one video. ................................................................................................... 7 
Figure 2: Vocational Practice in catering at NVI. Source- Mini project one (Aninge et
al., 2009) ................................................................................................................ 8 
Figure 3: Practical driving lessons at NVI ..................................................................... 8 
Figure 4: An interview guide session at Nile Vocational Institute- Jinja (Aninge et al.,
2009, p. 6) .............................................................................................................. 8 
Figure 5: A potter at work being observed and interviewed .......................................... 9 
Figure 6: Floriculture student displays a ready to sell ................................................. 10 
Figure 7: Furniture produced by students of NVI on display for sales in their
showroom. ............................................................................................................ 11 
Figure 8: A Modified Tricycle Ambulance (US$ 70) made by NVI students ............. 12 
Figure 9: Electronics students of NVTI doing practical repair in a workshop ............ 13 
Figure 10: Floriculture students of Bukalasa attending vocational practice in a
greenhouse (Ogwang, Chebet, & Odiel, 2009, p. 6) ............................................ 13 
Figure 11: Skewed enrolment of learners in Uganda (enrolment data from Egau
(2002, p. 4)).......................................................................................................... 15 

List of Appendix

Appendix 1:   List of documents written by MVP students in the first year of study
27 
iv

Acknowledgement

I would like to recognize the contribution of our professors Dr. Nilsson Lennart, Dr.

Liv Mjelde and Dr.Richard Daly and Mr Børge Skaland for their guidance during

these research expeditions. I further extend my gratitude to all the programme

mentors of Master in Vocational Pedagogy course for their tireless and constant

guidance both during the expeditions and write up of this project. Special thanks go to

all the vocational schools and work places from which this project research was

conducted, I salute their administrators for the kind cooperation shown during this

research expeditions. Last but not least I convey warm greetings to and I appreciate

the efforts of all NOMA Masters student of Vocational Pedagogy for the wonderful,

supportive and critical group reflections during the presentation of preliminary results

of this report.
1

CHAPTER ONE

1.0 Introduction

In this chapter, I will begin by analyzing my own background and experiences in

vocational pedagogy, and proceed to describe the nature of training (research based

learning) in a Masters in vocational pedagogy, which also emphasizes team and group

working to accomplish a task. The chapter will also cover a description of all the research

expeditions we conducted during the first year of study, before I can then conclude the

chapter with my own reflections about these learning approaches and strategies used in

vocational pedagogy.

1.1 Personal Background

Vocational pedagogy is a field of knowledge oriented towards trades, occupation and

profession (NOMA programme Document, 2008, p. 2). Gordon, Wilbert, McCaslin, Parks,

& Castro (2009, p. 1) defined Vocational education as “a practically illustrated and

attempted job or career skill instruction”. As such, a variety of components fall under the

vocational education umbrella: agricultural education, business education, family and

consumer sciences, health occupations education, marketing education, technical

education, and trade and industrial education. It consists of education focused towards

training and learning to work, and learning is by doing. Muhoozi (2008) stated that

vocational education is what developing countries need as it prepares one to directly enter

occupation without further training. A degree of the Masters in Vocational Pedagogy at

Kyambogo University is the first of its kind in Uganda and Africa as a whole. The

programme aims to address the attitude syndrome towards vocation skills and competence

of students in the field of vocational education, economic development and gender relations
2

in a bid to fight poverty (NOMA programme Document, 2008, p. 2) and the unemployment

of graduates from general education who has no individual skills to employ in the world of

work.

Masters in Vocational pedagogy is an initiative between the cooperation of Kyambogo

University (Uganda), Akershus University College (Norway) and Upper Nile University

(Southern Sudan). The programme is in line with the National strategic plans of both

governments of South Sudan and Uganda. In Uganda, the sector strategic plan 2004/2015

for Ministry of education and sports is to help students acquire the competencies they need

to join the world of work, while in Southern Sudan, which share similar situation (that is;

prolonged social military unrest) with Northern Uganda, vocational education is required to

address the question of skills for social integration and economic recovery (NOMA

programme Document, 2008, pp. 3-4).

Realising the real need for practical skills at an individual and societal level coupled with

the golden opportunity for the existence of the course I defiantly got motivated to join the

course forthwith upon seeing the public advertisement in the Uganda’s leading daily, The

New Vision. I am a trained and practicing agricultural extension worker. I did my National

Diploma in Fisheries Management and technologies and proceeded to do a bachelors

degree in Fisheries and aquaculture. My educational background together with my field

experience in fisheries extension education fits me very well in this course and the

knowledge I will acquire at the end of the training will be employed directly with an impact

on the students and farmers whom I will be training. My current job position as Senior

Lecturer at Fisheries Training Institute exposes me to a lot of challenges such as organising

vocational training lessons. Lack of training tools and materials for practical skills

sometimes can lead to total abandonment of the lesson and this is when a skilled instructor
3

has to be innovative and find alternatives to conduct practical lessons. Further, a

qualification with a Masters1 in vocational Pedagogy will defiantly strengthen my current

job position with a possibility for appointment into a higher position. Above all, I expected

this training to make me a competent researcher based on its mode of teaching and

learning. It was upon this background that motivated me to join the Masters in Vocational

Pedagogy of Kyambogo University.

1.2 Learning Experiences in Masters in Vocational Pedagogy

The organization of learning in Masters in Vocational Pedagogy is unique to all other

learning environments in that, “The method of work is the curriculum” (NOMA

Programme Document, 2008a, p. 6). Students learn by active participation in learning

groups and team discussions. Students are learning resources for each other, and this is the

only strength for equal and full participation of every member in group discussions and

documentations. In cases where individuals have to submit work for assessment, the group2

has a task to harmonize the work of each member before it can be submitted to the mentors

for marking; this is another strong point for the team spirit of togetherness. The learning

groups being heterogeneous in terms of gender, culture, religion and education background

calls for individual’s fidelity towards members of the group for total success of the

programme. For cases of personal emergencies which may warrant limited absence from

the group’s activities, the permission has to be granted by members of the group and the

mentors must be informed of such happenings. Therefore, much as other masters’

programme may look at the individual learner as an independent adult, MVP has a social

learning family with a common goal of succeeding with the programme of studies by all

1
Appointments into most job positions in Uganda are based on ones’ academic qualifications (Lutalo-Bosa,
2007, p. 3)and a Masters Degree is an added advantage for most jobs, if not a primary requirement.
2
I am indebted to my group (Juba) members for their guidance & scrutiny of my work during individual
project write ups
4

members. This is something that I liked most in the course. Further, learning Masters in

Vocational Pedagogy is from the “constructivists” perspective; where learners are seen as

agents in their own learning not merely recipients of other people’s knowledge. Learning

strategies3 involves small group work, discussions, debates, practical problem solving,

including presentation of alternative perspectives, sharing of information, reflective

practice, modeling, mentoring and coaching. All these learning strategies resonate with a

constructivist orientation to learning (Chappell, 2004, p. 4). Contemporary social and

economic conditions including the new requirements of work in some senses have

contributed to the focus on learning. In short, the traditional institutional forms of learning

are no longer adequate and cannot keep up with the contemporary demands for learning a

vocation.

In the beginning of the course, it was however, most challenging to cope up with the group

approach of doing learning tasks, especially; the construction of a safe and confident

learning environment within and in between the groups was not an easy task. Each group is

composed of seven (7) students, with at least two students from Southern Sudan and two

mentors/teachers who oversee the group’s activities. The mentors are the advisors to the

group and together with the group they work develop knowledge and information for

particular question that may concern learning. The organization of the course is such that,

active participation and input by the learners is the drive for the programme.

1.3 Research Expeditions

Masters in Vocational Pedagogy is a research oriented course. As part of the training we

conducted research expeditions in a number of vocational training institutions (VTIs) and

3
I very much benefited from group learning and discussions where different views about a subject is
welcomed and later harmonized into a common understanding. Bravo to all the groups in NOMA.
5

work places. In VTIs, we looked at the application of the principles of vocational didactics.

The questions centered on the application of the three branches of vocational didactics, that

is; vocational training, vocational theory and general knowledge (Nilsson, 1982) in the

pedagogy of a vocation, while at work places our research centered on the relationship

between learning at work and learning in a vocational institutions. We also did research in

traditional institutions of herbal medicine, pottery and blacksmithing. In these traditional

places, we looked at the learning and application of indigenous vocational knowledge and

the influence of cultural on vocational pedagogy. Theses institutions included Nile

Vocational Institute- Jinja (NVI), Crested crane hotel (Jinja), Jinja School of Nursing,

Nakawa Vocational Training Institute (NVTI), Bukalasa Agricultural training institute

(Luwero), Uganda Bureau of Statistics (UBOS), National Curriculum Development Centre

(NCDC), Directorate of Industrial Training (DIT), Uganda National Examinations Board

(UNEB) and Harris International (Riham). Indigenous practitioners of pottery (Kiteezi), Dr

Ssali’s herbal medicine and research centre and Katwe black smiths were also visited in

one of the expeditions.

The expeditions covered various subjects; vocational didactics, relations of training at

school and work places, work organization, curriculum development, measurement and

evaluation and influence of culture indigenous knowledge systems) on vocational

education and practices. We did field expeditions in groups and teams with common

objectives. The group/team members worked together to prepare for the expedition. The

design of research strategies and data collection tools (interview guides) and materials were

organized with equal participation of all the group/team members.

In both training institutions and work places, there are resource limitations which affect

trainings. Grady, Dooly, Harlin, & Murphrey, (2006, p. 6) in their study of competence and
6

traits of a successful Agricultural science teachers, identified instructional/teaching skills,

classroom management, the ability to motivate and persuade learners, and facilitation skills

are strong skills that would cause a teacher to be successful or unsuccessful. With our little

background knowledge in vocational training, coupled with lack of advanced technology in

VTIs together with use of limited resources we had to set off to explore how vocational

trainings are conducted in these VTIs and some work places visited. Further limited

literature existed about vocational didactics in Ugandan VTIs. We4 therefore made an

assessment into how vocational instructors could arrange the best practical lessons out of

the worst resources limited learning environment without compromising quality and

quantity of education. The objectives for these research expeditions included finding out

the challenges and limitations to practical skills training in vocational training institutions,

identification of the various strategies developed to cope up with the above challenges and

limitations experienced by VTIs and we also wanted to find out the logistical management

of practical training materials in VTIs and work places.

1.4 What were the findings?

During all these research expeditions we used similar methods to gather the necessary data

and information. In all cases open ended interview guides questions and physical

observation were employed. We also took photographs, and short video clips where

necessary to boost and backup the data analysis and information got during the expedition

(Aninge, Ogwang, & Nhial, 2009, p. 5)5. Each one of us in a team of three members had a

set of questions grouped under ten main observation points namely; Task, Tools, Material,

4
These research expeditions were done in groups and teams. The findings reported here are extracts from
those research expeditions of the groups/teams.
5
Mini Project one report, March 2009.
7

Logistics, Work/learning forms, Communication, Help, Rewards, Time structuring and

Wanted changes, (See Appendix 1)6.

During a research expedition to NVI, we observed lectures (Figure 1) and practical lessons

in the department of catering and hotel management (Figure 2) and motor vehicle

mechanics (Figure 3) for a short while; after which we interviewed students using the

questionnaires we had formulated. Initially, we made sure the students were thoroughly

addressed on the importance and confidentiality of the information they would give to us

during the interview. We thereafter, had a chance to interview at least a student using the

pre set questions about vocational training and didactics in training institutions (Figure 4).

Figure 1: Vocational Theory Lessons in Progress at NVI; Picture extracted from mini project one
video.

Research into work places had similar interview guides though it focused much on learning

at a work place. Research interview guides (See Appendixes 3) for expeditions to UNEB,

NCDC and DIT were centered on curriculum development, measurement and evaluation.

6
Interview guide extracted from mini project one report.
8

Figure 2: Vocational Practice in catering at


Figure 3: Practical driving lessons at NVI
NVI. Source- Mini project one (Aninge et al.,
2009)

For indigenous practitioners, we employed the knowledge based-system methodology for

acquisition of local knowledge data used by (Mulyoutami, Rismawan, & Joshi, 2009, p.

2056) . In this method, we collected information from a small sample of deliberately

chosen individuals thought to be knowledgeable by the community about the domain of

interest and were willing to co-operate.

Figure 4: An interview guide session at Nile Vocational Institute- Jinja (Aninge et al., 2009, p. 6)7

The data were collected by subjecting the key informants (Figure 5) to interview with the

help of an interview guide. A total of 2 potters were interviewed. Direct observation was an

integral part of the interview that enabled us to confirm the kinds of materials and tools

7
Thanks to members of team A, group 2 (Juba) for taking this photographs
9

used and types of products from these industries. The interview guide consisted of

questions related to raw material acquisition, production, marketing, types of materials

produced, uses, history of the business, management and ownership of business, roles of

men and women, knowledge preservation and skills transfer methods.

Figure 5: A potter at work being observed and interviewed

The findings from our research expeditions produced gap bridging data and information
about transfer of vocational knowledge and skills in Ugandan VTIs and work places
visited.

1.5 What can be concluded from the findings?

The conclusions I could draw from the findings of our research expeditions to vocational

institutions showed that there was unilateral lack of training tools and materials. The

student shared practical common training tools such as wood planers, Tractors, Mould loft,

Cookers, etc as witnessed at NVI. However, at NVTI where there exists a strong

cooperation between the Japan and Uganda governments, the students had working tools,

but limited practical materials such as soldering wires and circuit boards, network cables

and sheet metals among others. At Bukalasa agricultural training college, students lacked

mechanized tools and most training materials.


10

To cope up with these training challenges, the institutions have developed strategies to

improve on vocational didactics. In all these institutions visited, we discovered that

administration asked students brought some training tools for their own use. At Bukalasa

students brought their own hoes, Pangas and gumboots for field practices. Electronics and

electrical students of NVTI brought pliers, soldering guns and multi-meters, testers and

screw drivers. In this way, administrators minimized the cost of acquiring simple training

tools in an attempt to save for materials and costly training machines which can be shared

during the practical lessons.

Another strategy which the instructors innovated was to encourage production learning.

Students produced items during practical training. These items were then sold to generate

income for the institutions and small stipend for the students. Fig 7 and 8 below shows

furniture and an ambulance produced by carpentry and metal fabrication students of NVI

respectively. In figure 6 below, is a floriculture student of Bukalasa displaying a ready to

sell flower bundle.


An ambulance was valued at

approximately US $70. This kind

of training strategy “shoots two

birds with one stone”, the students

learn and gain skills and money

from the items they have produced

while the institution uses the

training materials gainfully as they

get the proceeds from sale of items


Figure 6: Floriculture student displays a ready to sell
produced by learners.
flower from the school’s greenhouse.
11

The learners therefore learn to associate their work with value and the proceeds from these

sales can be used to purchase training tools and materials. I can further conclude that

vocational education at these institutions, created a sense of feeling in the students that

there exists a strong link between wealth or reward and skills acquisition and education.

Minnis (2000, p. 254) confirmed this argument that, education should emphasize strong

links between the proceeds of production, effort and incentive; otherwise, it becomes

difficult to convince parents and students alike that their present or future level of

economic well being is tied significantly to education and training.

Figure 7: Furniture produced by students of NVI on display for sales in their showroom.

A striking finding from NVI students producing ambulances from bicycle parts is

something beyond imaginations. The ambulance is a combination of three cycles, a frame,

and a sponge mattress. The technology seemed to be tailored for rural settings in cases of

emergencies such as labour pains, accidents, acute sickness etc. Ngome (2009, p. 2) in his

news article in the NORRAG News, pointed out that one of the problems to TVET in

Kenya is lack of certain skills that are needed in the domestic markets such as bicycle

repairs being provided in the training programmes of TVET institutions. This is a similar

challenge shared by Ugandan TVET institutions. Very few VTIs in Uganda if any, do train

learners with bicycle maintenance and repair, yet this is the service needed in both urban
12

and rural parts of the country. The curriculum in most African TVET institutions seemed to

be copied or carried on from the colonial time without inputs/ modification from

technology users. The UNEVOC (1993, p. 3) pointed out that, due to lack of resources,

experience and traditions, developing countries simply tend to copy existing curriculum

materials from industrialized nations without proper adoption to the local situations and

needs. As a consequence of such curriculum, the content are not usually rooted in people’s

culture (Lutalo-Bosa, 2007, p. 6). There is therefore a great hope that NVI will address this

challenge in being a model institute in bicycle repair and modification.

Further, at NVTI, we discovered that instructors through their private businesses, get

contracts to which they incorporate students to learn the technology while they do the

work. In such instances, the learning materials are derived from the instructor’s clientele.

Such students get hands on training and learn all the technologies involved in a particular

trade. If all training institutions can have this indirect private links, then the challenge of

training materials would be reduces to a limit and student would learn the skills they

require.

Lutalo-Bosa (2007, p. 11) emphasized

that vocational education is much

expensive compared to academic

education and as such, if not connected to

employers or group of employers, does

not appear to give the graduates adequate

skills required to find work which earn


Figure 8: A Modified Tricycle Ambulance
(US$ 70) made by NVI students
them higher wages.
13

In all the TVET institutions visited, there existed all the three elements of vocational

didactics; vocational training, vocational theory and general knowledge (Nilsson, 1982).

Classroom lessons for general knowledge (mathematics, entrepreneurship, languages,

technical drawing) and vocational theory centered on knowledge about the tools and

materials used in each trade, while practical lessons were either in the fields (Bukalasa and

NVI, Fig 3) or in specialized rooms such as kitchen (NVI, Fig 2), typing pool (NVI),

workshops (NVTI, Fig 9) and greenhouses (Bukalasa-floriculture department, Fig 10).

Figure 9: Electronics students of NVTI doing Figure 10: Floriculture students of Bukalasa
practical repair in a workshop attending vocational practice in a greenhouse
(Ogwang, Chebet, & Odiel, 2009, p. 6)

Learning at VTIs was something different from workplace learning. In Riham, there
existed nothing like vocational didactics, training was on the job without set curriculum.
The workers mastered each task in his/her section of production by experience with the
assistance of line supervisors (Aninge et al., 2009, p. 13). In the traditional pottery, a
similar situation existed; no curriculum, and vocational theory and practice were taught
concurrently. This confirms what Liv Mjelde (2006, p. 32) stated that, learning in the
school workshop and learning in the actual working life are never identical.

The findings and conclusions from these researches about transfer of vocational knowledge
and skills in a resource limited situations are limited to vocational institutions visited but, it
can be used to picture vocational trainings in Uganda in general.
14

CHAPTER TWO

2.1 Vocational Education Revisited

Skills acquisition is vital for an economy to compete and grow, particularly in an era of

economic integration and technological change. In the globalization account, the national

economic success is largely dependent on the ability to create, attract and deploy human

capital more effectively than the competitor nations or regions (McGrath & Akoojee, 2009,

p. 149). Vocational Education and Training (VET) is a direct means of providing workers

with skills more relevant to the evolving needs of employers and the economy. Vocational

education is dynamic, new vocations (e.g fashion design, homecare services) replaces old

ones (Shoe making, home economics) and it changes with advancement in technology

while, diversity of working tools get replaced by computers (Mjelde, 2006, p. 33).

When indigenous vocational education existed informally in Africa, before formal /western

education, African system of education revolved around families, clans, tribe and regions

(Okello, 2009, p. 5). The teachers were the parents or adult members of the community

gifted and skillful in a particular technology (Okello, 2009, pp. 1,5; Ssekamwa, 1997).The

learners were the children who were introduced in to life sustaining skills. This enabled

them to be self reliant and useful to the community. Teaching had no set time table or

curriculum, but was done whenever and wherever necessary. Formal VET emerged in

Uganda through the missionaries, according to (Ssekamwa, 1997, pp. 86-89), it has

historically been considered education for those students who fail to make it through the

straight path, i.e. from primary to secondary to university (African Union, 2007, p. 8; Egau,

2002, p. 2; Ssekamwa, 1997, p. 86). However, the skewed enrollments (similar to that of

South Africa (Akoojee, 2005, p. 2)), Fig 11, against developed world’s pattern at various

levels of education in Uganda has rendered many graduates jobless, and reflect the extent
15

to which the education systems needs to be readjusted. Many graduates qualify from

universities and other Non-VET training institutions than from VET institutions.

Universities: 20,325

Technical
Colleges: 2,200

Technical Schools
& Institutes:
11,130

Figure 11: Skewed enrolment of learners in Uganda (enrolment data from Egau (2002, p. 4)).

This inverted triangle indicates that more persons graduate to become supervisors but not

skilled workers, unfortunately, supervisory works is already filled and requires just a few

managers. In Uganda, every year, about 800,000 graduates from primary and secondary

schools enter the labour market, of which only 5-10% obtain a vocational training from

about 1000 private vocational institutions and only about 130 government aided vocational

schools (UGAPRIVI, 2009, p. 1). The liberalization of economy in Uganda has attracted

many investors in education to add new technologies and innovations in the global

economy (Wirak, Heen, Moen, & Vusia, 2003, p. 12). Private providers of education

however is profit based, in which curriculum is the product and students are treated as

consumers (Akoojee, 2005, p. 3) with no regards for quality of education if not controlled

by government (Wirak et al., 2003, p. 12). Egau, (2002, p. 22) pointed out that such private

providers of vocational skills sometimes are unable to buy training materials and pay for

teachers, especially if enrolments are low. Lack of practical during training may be one of

the major causes of the general out cry from the public that, graduates from vocational

institutions are incompetent and cannot do skilled work.


16

However, our forefathers learnt vocational trades indigenously, and to some extent

currently, our brothers and sisters in the rural settings are still able to learn vocational

knowledge and skills of various kinds of different trades with limited tools and materials

amidst great modern technological challenges. The question is then, how did they do it, and

how best can the modern generation in developing countries adopt their approach to

emerge out as the best vocational practitioners using modern technology yet faced with a

challenge of limited tools and materials?

Indigenous knowledge (IK) is used at a local level to assist the communities in decisions

concerning food security, human and animal health, education, natural resource

management and other vital activities (Gorjestani, 2001, p. 1; Grenier, 1998, p. 4).

Indigenous knowledge (IK) is generally used synonymously with traditional and local

knowledge to differentiate the knowledge developed by and within distinctive indigenous

communities from the international knowledge system generated through universities,

government research centers and private industry, sometimes incorrectly called the Western

knowledge system (WIPO, 2006, p. 5). All members of a community have indigenous

knowledge; elders, women, men, and children. The quantity and quality of the IK that

individuals possess vary. Age, education, gender, social and economic status, daily

experiences, outside influences, roles and responsibilities in the home and community,

profession, available time, aptitude and intellectual capability, level of curiosity and

observation skills, ability to travel and degree of autonomy, and control over natural

resources in a way influences one’s degree of indigenous knowledge (Grenier, 1998, p. 3).
17

CHAPTER THREE:

3.0 Vocational Pedagogy in an African Context

3.1 Introduction

Vocational education and training may be viewed as the process of forming skills in an

individual to make him/her employable or self employed in the world of work (Lutalo-

Bosa, 2007, p. 4). It is based on ‘work of the mind and hand’ i.e. production of something

which should form the basis of all learning. It involves the acquisition of practical skills,

attitudes, understanding and knowledge relating to occupation in various social and

economic trades (Okello, 2009, p. 1). The pedagogy emphasizes that work of the mind is

formed from that of the hand, and thus practice is prior to theory. Here the understanding

comes through action and personal experience and theory is learnt in close relationship to

practical skills (Lutalo-Bosa, 2007, p. 10; Nilsson, 2009, p. 2). Vocational pedagogy is

diverse and continuously changes with technological development with old vocational

trades being replaced by modern ones (Mjelde, 2006, p. 33). Okello (2009, p. 1) stated that

“where there is man, there is a controversy that threatens him or her with extinction, and

as such they have to conquer it”. One can therefore conclude that in order to survive,

technological development must be maintained. Engagement in and learning from

vocational practices cannot therefore be a process of mere reproduction of what is intended

by social forms and encounters. But, Billett (2008, p. 235) pointed out that throughout

working life, vocational practices may be elaborated, refined and remade by individuals as

they intentionally engages with socially determined tasks and activities. Vocational

education has played a great role in the existence of man, and as such Okello (2009, p. 1) it

is as old as man.
18

In Uganda, general education and vocational training was introduced by the missionaries

(Lutalo-Bosa, 2007, p. 12; Okello, 2009, pp. 9-14; Ssekamwa, 1997, p. 86). The

protectorate government later joined and took control over education by establishing the

directorate of education (Lutalo-Bosa, 2007, p. 12) and citizens got training under specific

religious line of affiliations. The main aim of this kind of education was to produce man

power for missionary activities within different community activities such as building

construction, brick making, printing of reading materials, carpentry and joinery and

blacksmithing.

3.1 Vocational Pedagogy in an African Context8: A Fisheries


Perspective

Vocational education existed in Africa long before the coming of western civilization. The

informal system of education consisted of teaching and learning of basic knowledge and

skills which were arranged in homesteads, fireplace at night, in the sleeping housed and

anywhere where people carried out economic, political and social activities in the

(Ssekamwa, 1997, p. 4; Taylor, 1995, p. 240). There were no conventional schools and

reading materials as one would see in the present system of education. In various tribes

throughout Africa, memories of significant past events, traditions and religious customs

were handed down orally to succeeding generations and in their initiation ceremonies

(Taylor, 1995, p. 240).

The parents and responsible grown up citizens in the community constituted Vocational

instructors (teachers). The parents had the first duty of educating their children while, once

away from home, children would be taught by the members of the society (Ssekamwa,

8
Some of the phrases and contents in this chapter were modified from the essay “What is Vocational
Pedagogy in an African Context” by team D, (Ogwang Sam. P, Chebet Shamim and Odiel James). Thanks for
their cooperation during this write up.
19

1997, p. 4; Taylor, 1995, p. 240). Particular skills and knowledge not commonly known to

most parents were imparted to children by specialized teachers (citizens) who knew them

and such skills would be particularly taught to boys or girls as thought appropriate for their

gender. Learning was in the form of apprenticeship, where learners observed what an adult

was doing and copied the skills. The indigenous vocational pedagogy in Africa had no

particular time when specialized knowledge and technical skills were taught and learned

unlike today when schools start at 0800 hours and ends at 1700 hours. In addition there

were no specific subjects to be taught and learned at specific hours, i.e. there existed no

time table, term or semester systems as one can see today. One funny thing with African

education is that, there is no clear distinction between learning and working as the two

happens concurrently.

Knowledge transfer consisted of a number of methods: In one instance, teaching involved

straight telling to the child the knowledge which he/she should know followed by the child

repeating the words and practice until the correct way of greeting is mastered. Children

were taught through plays, games, songs, rhymes and storytelling. At later ages they were

introduced to idioms, proverbs and riddles. This method may be referred to as mini lecture

method combined with instant practice and further mini lecture (Okello, 2009, p. 4). Also

teaching technical skills of doing things or making things were done by knowledgeable

person in a society who demonstrated the skills which was necessary to do/ make

something to the child who was required to repeat over and again until the learner got it

correct (Okello, 2009, p. 5). The education system covered all subjects ranging from

Science, geography, history, and technology and other social life skills such discipline and

respect. Vocational pedagogy in an African context had no formal learning content

(curriculum) and what to be learnt would vary from one society to another.

Conservativeness of knowledge, where skills and knowledge of a certain culture was


20

limited to that particular culture and was not to be transferred or borrowed from other

cultures (Taylor, 1995, pp. 240,241).

However, from fisheries perspectives, master fishermen taught their young children with all

the knowledge and skills they would need to survive in the wild waters to fish. Fisheries

science skills targeted and favored boys. Similar to hunting and honey gatherings, girls

were and are still not treated fit for such activities in an African community. The

“curriculum” of African indigenous fisheries education might have consisted of the

following:

3.1.1 Environmental science

Children were taught how to deal with the environment. The purpose of this was that they

should know how to get the best things out of the environment. There were dangerous

diseases, animals, and plants and the young people were taught on how to defeat all the

difficulties in their environment. Even in the present settings, an average African boy or

girl about 20 years and above knows most of the basic knowledge about his/her

surroundings. They know the names of plants and animals and their usefulness in the

community. They are made aware of dangerous and harmless plants and animals in their

environment. By bringing the catch home, an adult would elaborate on the names and

characteristics of a particular fish species and where its ecology while the fish is was being

prepare for meals. The young fishers of sea going age accompany their fathers to the sea

and observe with participation in the fishing operations. In this way, the ecological

knowledge of fish harvesters will consists of facts obtained through firsthand experience

during years of observation and interaction with their local environment while fishing

(Gosse, Wroblewski, & Neis, 2001, p. 26).


21

3.1.2 Cooperation

Children were taught how to cooperate with their friends, neighbors and members of the

society. Community gatherings such as traditional clan meetings, social competitions in

dances and folk songs constituted arenas for learning how to live in a society (Taylor, 1995,

p. 241). In the Teso, Langi and Acholi districts, during dry seasons, village mates go for

communal fishing in pockets of water locked up in seasonal swamps. This provided

children with opportunity to learn cooperation to attack and accomplish a common task

such as fishing, hunting, and honey gathering (personal experience). The young people

learnt the sense of belonging to a group, clans and tribes. While in the community and at

home they were taught discipline and how to behave in the community.

3.1.3 Discipline

Disciplinary action was taken at the family, clan or societal levels. Every adult unlike today

in the society had the right and responsibility to discipline any misbehaving child. In the

culture of Langi tribe in Northern Uganda, where I belong, any misbehaving child or adult

member of a clan can be disciplined by the clan authority. In the fishing tradition, a fisher

who steals the fishing gear or the catch from another man’s net is punished by the

committee of the fishers. The punishment constitutes beatings, paying back, doing

communal work such as cleaning the surroundings or it can even attract payment worth

chickens or goats.

3.1.4 Technical skills


Transfer of “hard” technical skills also formed a major part of the “curriculum”. Children

were taught all the basic technical / vocational skills which they needed to do or to make

things in order to be helpful to themselves and to the members of the society in which they

lived. Boys were taught skills in drums making, stools, pottery, canoes, hoes, spears,
22

blacksmithing (Okello, 2009, p. 5), while girls in particular, were taught baby nursing,

cookery, housekeeping, farming, mending cloths, making mats, baskets, plating hair to look

pleasant and proper behavior in marriage. In the art of fishing, subject content includes the

art of braiding nets, designing fishing hooks, baiting fish, setting the net, locating fish

abundances, fish preservation methods as well as conservation of the resource (Narcisse,

2001, p. 11).

3.1.5 Religion

Fishing and religion are inseparable. The young fishers were taught the relationship

between fishing and religion. According to modern religion, God created the seas and fish

(Holy Bible, Genesis 1:20). Fishers believed that God provided fish for the people. When

God created man, he blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number;

fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and every

living creature that moves on the ground” (Holy Bible, Genesis 1:28). Similar to African,

for the Vietnamese fishers, the more awe and fear a certain objects inspired, the less often it

was talked about, least its powers be called upon (Asia Society, 2008, p. 1). Dangerous

water animals such as Crocodiles, Hippopotamus and deadly storms were referred to in

whispers and respectfully called in “nicknames”. In this way, young fishers were taught to

respect “gods” and to behave, least be punished by the gods.

3.2 Productive Learning

Unlike in today’s vocational pedagogy where products of practical learning may not be

used instantly, the fisheries pedagogy in African system involved showing the learner how

to catch the fish. The learner would then practice it by deploying his fishing gears and the

catch would be used at home. The household members or society would then give their

comment and where necessary give correction for one to improve on the learning.
23

3.4 Conclusion
Vocational education in Africa started way back before the introduction of the white man’s

system of education by the missionaries. Our ancestors knew how best they could pass on life

sustaining skills in their young ones according to the specific tasks to be performed by the boys

and girls as they grow into fathers and mothers. The training incorporated verbal theories and

practices concurrently. As we know today, they too knew that vocational pedagogy integrated

biological/physical, mental and social aspects of human being aimed at promoting competence

in the skills learnt. However, both systems demand the use of tools and materials for training

and mastering the skills. In the modern settings, developing countries are still faced with

problems of training tools and materials to transfer vocational skills. Therefore, vocational

instructors have to be innovative to come up with interventions of transferring skills in a

resource limited African institutions.

3.5 Recommendation

Vocational instructors should encourage constructivist way theory of learning vocational

skills at VTIs.

Government should give a hand in providing teaching and learning tools and materials for

transfer of vocational skills at Vocational institutes.

National Curriculum Development Centre should come up with a curriculum which

incorporates local knowledge of tools and materials for VTIs targeting local labour and

commodity markets.

Parents and members of the society should in addition to western education, emphasize on

teaching their young ones indigenous knowledge for them to live in harmony and be useful

to his/her community.
24

CHAPTER FOUR

4.1 My Point of Departure

Modern Africans tend to invest little faith in developing indigenous knowledge (Ngara,

2007,p.7), however, I feel there is need to revisit the African traditional ways of knowing

to harmonize the past with the present so that we shall be able to establish the true basis for

indigenous vocational pedagogy in the informal “world”. The fact that so much effort is

now being invested to understanding the basis for indigenous natural resources

management indicate that the negative attitudes commonly held about indigenous

knowledge during the colonial era have begun to change. Breidlid (2009,p.142) recognized

that, the lack of respect for local or indigenous knowledge and the assumption by western

scientist that western epistemology and scientific discourse is superior is a serious obstacle

to sustainable development because they fail to meet human development needs and at the

same time to protect nature and the ecosystems. After the Asian Tsunami disaster of 2005

destroyed all the fishing equipments and harbors in the coastal areas of Sri Lanka, in the

Island newspaper, Amarasiri (2005, p. 1) wrote this “I argue that the traditional fishing

sector that provided livelihood for the poor and the marginalized communities in the

country’s littoral, should be assisted not only to restore their livelihood, technology and

know-how of traditional fishing but also to bring back the vigour of the culture that

embodied the much valued folk wisdom coming down from many generations”.

Fishing in the wild waters is a skillful technique which has developed over time from the

crude traditional methods of using hands, foot, woods, bones and later on spears and

modern hooks and fishing nets (Brandt, 1972,p.5-8,38-45,185-204). Modern fishers

equipped with electronic fish finders, predetermine fish abundance in the fishing grounds

before deploying their fishing gears. Our fore fathers too knew in their own ways how to
25

predict fish abundance, the knowledge of which can still be traced to a few descending

fishers. The African ways of knowing are grounded in the indigenous African cultural

traditions, history and ecology (Ngara, 2007,p.7). While modern systems which uses Sonar

as fish finders, global positioning systems (GPS) for position location and weather reports

to determines the conditions in the sea, the equipments are affected by the environmental

conditions and other factors but the indigenous systems prevails and are accurate. One can

however regard this knowledge as unauthentic and unreliable as some can not be verified

by scientific methods.

In African systems, the pedagogy of vocational skill showed the youth being apprenticed to

skilled masters of healing arts, Blacksmithing, midwifery, pottery, craftwork, etc

(Ssekamwa, 1997, p. 7). Fishing being a unique vocation, given the environment in which

it operates and the engagement of only a few members of a community seems to attract the

brave and the determined youth only. Unlike other vocations where every member of a

society constituted a tutor/teacher (Ssekamwa, 1997, p. 4), the foregone reasons meant the

teachers for the fishing vocation were few and not easily accessible unless followed in the

wild waters. This therefore obviously might have called for some physical qualities and

interest of the learners. The fact that fishing is a kind of production learning might have

motivated the learners as the fish caught in the process would be used for food or battered

for some other goods and services in the community.

4.1.1 What is missing?

The Ugandan fishing industry is characterized by the indigenously trained fishing

communities of close ethnic background sharing common cultural practices and languages

with exception of only a few immigrants who get adapted to the local community. Because

fishing is the source of livelihood here, the practice is guarded and the knowledge passed
26

on from generation to generations by the skilled members of the community. One

fascinating gap in knowledge of the indigenous pedagogy of fishing is “man’s relations to

the ecology of fishing”(Bergmann, Hinz, Blyth, Kaiser, Rogers, & Armstrong, 2004, p.

377) . We still know very little if any how the indigenous knowledge of fishing is applied in

fisheries ecology, the interpretation of weather (nature) in relations to fishing and how this

knowledge is preserved and passed on to the next generation.

4.1.2 What do I wish to make Known?

I plan to investigate about the knowledge and skills transfer, acquisition and how it is

applied in the fishing vocation by traditional fishers of Kigungu fish landing site (Entebbe)

on Lake Victoria. My main objective of this research will be to find out the learning

activities carried out and the application of knowledge and kills acquired by the fishers of

Kigungu fish landing site. The findings from this study will potentially contribute to

enhancing the vocational education and fisheries biological databases about indigenous

knowledge of fishing on L. Victoria and will show to fishery scientists some ways in which

local fishers’ knowledge can be useful to co-management initiatives. To date little use is

made of the fisher’s knowledge in management decision making process (Bergmann et al.,

2004, p. 374). In doing this, I hope to improve mutual understanding between fishery

scientists and local fishers in Uganda therefore helping these fishers to get more involved

in managing the resource. Besides increasing the available ethno-ichthyological

information on L. Victoria, this is one of the first ethno-ichthyological studies involving

Kigungu fishing community.


27

APPENDIXES

Appendix 1: List of documents written by MVP students in the first year of study
from February 2008 to October 2009:

1. Team work: Mini project on expeditions to Nile Vocational, Jinja Nurses training
Institute, and Crested crane Hotel- Jinja.

2. Individual work: Mini project two. Summary of findings from all expeditions in
semester one.

3. Team work: Essay on Vocational Pedagogy in African perspective.

4. Team work: Curriculum development, measurement and evaluation (NCDC, DIT


and UNEB).

5. Group work: Perspectives in historical and cultural development and their influence
in educational development in Uganda.

6. Group work: Indigenous knowledge systems in VET

7. Group work: Attitude towards indigenous knowledge systems in VET.

8. Group work: Gender issues affecting productivity in vocational education in


Uganda; A case of Kyambogo University.
28

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