In a usual holiday setting, students are home watching television, visiting friends and relatives or sometimes helping out with domestic chores as they wait for school to restart. But Shaun Opio, a 17-year-old Senior Four leaver from St Joseph's Senior Secondary School, Nagaalama says despite helping out with domestic chores, he has a challenge of low self-esteem. Yet, he says he needs to build his self-confidence as one of the skills to help him achieve his dream of either becoming a lawyer, or following in his father's footsteps of being a legislator in Parliament. And he seems close to redemption after he, together with other students across the divide attended a five-day self-transformation Ability Explored Students' Expo 2018 at Naalya Senior Secondary School, Buto campus, that emphasised life-skills development in students.
After realising that most of the jobs that make people realise quick income are despised skills and easy to learn at home but not taught in school, last week, Daily Monitor, Gayaza High School and Ability Explored-- a private company fostering etiquette and neglected societal skills, held the inaugural one-week personal transformation retreat for students on holiday to understand the value of skills.
According to Ronald Mayanja, the Chief Executive Officer Ability Explored, the one-week retreat which started on Monday and closed on Friday is aimed at exposing holidaying students to transformational skills to enhance their independence, creativity, patriotism integrity as well as expose them to etiquette so that they can be able to transfer the skills to their peers.
"We want to impart in them skills in public speaking, sewing and stitching, make-up and beauty, events management, hairstyling, baking, cooking, self-confidence and First Aid," he said, adding that these skills are not taught in the classroom but they are very critical for survival.
And indeed Arich Baak, a 20-year-old Makerere University Bachelor of Arts student from South Sudan says participating in youth activities such as the student's expo she and her colleagues were a part of helps them to embrace and develop their talents.
In as much as the expo equipped students with theory classes, practicals took the lion's share, according to Mayanja. The students were tasked to propose project ideas and implement them.
Such projects included housekeeping chores such as gardening, plumbing, laundry, carpentry, cooking, and organising home parties. Some of these, Mayanja asserts, have turned into well-paying jobs for many graduates.
Asked what motivated them to start this holiday project, Sarah Magaya, the teacher in charge of peer guidance and counselling at Gayaza High School, said they realised that there is need to expose personality difference to children aged between 13 and 23 years early enough so that they are aware of the repercussions that may arise as a result of their behaviour.
"We have hot tempered people because of the environment in which they were raised but children need to understand the value of integrity, they need to know the value of participating in domestic chores," she said explaining that exposing children to their shortcomings at an early age enables them to find alternative ways of dealing with them and builds their self-confidence.
Proscovia Ssentongo, a senior woman teacher at Gayaza High School, says at Gayaza they started the Teach Me Teacher Initiative to deal with values, skills and child protection because children spend most of the time with teachers who are able to raise them in the manner parents expect.
Teachers' pivotal role
During holidays, Ssentongo says, they want to talk to parents and train teachers to give students values and skills which promote resilience and they are recruiting more teachers to participate in initiatives such as the concluded expo.
Ssentongo says their main focus is on child protection because when a teacher is empowered on that front, they are able to deal with how to handle the child at school. She adds that they also want to train students on how to cope with abuse at school something that is increasing school dropout rates in the country.
Ultimately, vocational training aimed at equipping students with lifelong skills is a drive all schools and stakeholders should embrace.