Uganda: Vocational Training and Tailoring Shop Program

RMF and JICA Partnership Update March 2015 Report

April 21, 2015

This is a progress report of the program “Basic Skills Vocational Training Outreach Programme” that was implemented by Real Medicine Foundation (RMF) under the supervision of JICA and the Directorate of Vocational Training (DVT) at the Ministry of Labour, Public Service and Human Resource Development (MoLPSHRD) South Sudan.
It covers a period of three months that started on 29th December 2014 and ended on 20th March 2015. The report focuses on the efforts towards fulfillment of the program which aims at providing skills training for South Sudanese Refugees to enable them to become self-reliant within and when they eventually return to South Sudan.
The program was based on three main objectives which include;
i)    To train the refugees with the relevant vocational training skills;
ii)    To  prepare the refugees  for  the work world  with  entrepreneurial  skills  for  both employment and self-employment;
iii)    To prepare refugees with basic skills that they shall use for nation building when returning to their home country.
Real Medicine Foundation (RMF) implemented the program and the chapters below analytically elaborate the activities indicating the achievements, the challenges and the lessons learnt during the implementation.  


2.1    Process of trainee enrollment
In order to enlist enrollment to the institution, the community was mobilized from within the settlement areas with the help of Refugee Welfare Councils who are Refugee representatives and through various media approaches like radio announcements, poster advertisement, and other announcements. Those interested were then invited for an interview to which over 350 applications were received. 110 trainees were considered for enrollment but as the training commenced, an additional eleven trainees were taken in and the total number rose to 121 trainees of which 101 were South Sudanese and 20 Ugandans and of these, 46 male and 75 female. However by the time of examination registration to the Directorate of Industrial Training Ministry of Education and Sports, 98 trainees registered of which 63 were female and 35 were male.

2.2    Institutional administration and management
With the support from JICA, the staff of the institution increased from 4 to 12. Three staff was seconded to the institution from the MoLPSHRD after a two-month training at Nakawa Vocational Training Institute.  Five staff were recruited with support from JICA. Of the staff, 7 are male and 5 are female. The Program Manager is the head of the institution and is assisted by the Principal and the Accountant. There are four departments directly involved in the execution of the training programs. These are Hair Dressing and Beauty Therapy, Tailoring and Garment Cutting, Building and Concrete Practice and Carpentry and Joinery. The institute received short-term Nakawa Vocational Technical Institute experts for monitoring and support supervision.

2.3    The Guild Executives and their activities
The Guild Executives were elected on 9th January 2015 and those who emerged with the majority votes and in the different positions are listed below. The Guild Executives are the representatives of the trainees at the institution and their main responsibility is to ensure that they represent the views of the trainees at the institute. This was done through a number of meetings that they held with the RMF administration, meeting with Mr. Reuben Daniel and with the Undersecretary from the MoLPSHRD.

By the end of the three months, the body of the Guild Executives held five meetings to which the administration was invited. Below are some of the main issues they raised during the meetings which mainly addressed the interest of the trainees.
•    They requested the program implementers and sponsors to provide them with lunch.
•    They requested to be provided with overalls, aprons, gumboots, overcoats.
•    They raised concerns about the limited workspace, especially for practical.
•    They requested the institute to provide them with identification cards.
•    During the visit of Reuben from DIV, they thanked the representative for considering to skill the refugees and requested for the continuation of the program to accommodate a big number of possible trainees who are still in need of the skills.
•    The executives requested the Government of South Sudan to support them with lunch.
•    They also requested to be given footwear like gumboots for practical.
•    Request to be supported with startup kits as they leave the institution.
•    Expansion of the classes because they cannot accommodate the trainees for both practical and theory.
•    Trainees and their families are faced with limited domestic supplies because the food ratios of 11.5 kg can hardly sustain them.

The concerns raised by the Guild Executives were responded to in the following ways:
•    The Representative from the Directorate of Vocational training thanked the trainees for sharing all their concerns which he felt passionate about and he pointed out that some of the challenges may take some time to be addressed and needed consulting other stakeholders.
•    However, concerning feeding, the refugees were getting food already by WFP and it would be difficult to give the institution food because most of the trainees are refugees, their ratios were already calculated in their families.  
•    For the other issues that were raised, he considered them very important but needed to be forwarded and discussed with other partners to solicit support. He encouraged the trainees to strive at acquiring the skills to create opportunities for themselves via self employment.

2.4    External supervisorial and assessment conducted at the institution
2.4.1      Nakawa VTI Supervisorial activities
The institution received three different supervisorial visits by three officials from the Nakawa Vocational Training Institute. Their main aim at PVTI was to supervise the activities of the instructors that were trained by them at NVTI, an arrangement that was made between JICA and MoLPSHRD South Sudan and also to supervise and monitor the progress of the three-month training as requirement designed in the MOU.
During their field visit, each of the instructors concentrated in their line of specialization and contributed towards the overall guidance of the curriculum that was designed by MoLPSHRD to guide the three-month basic skills outreach programme at PVTI.

2.4.2     Supervisorial visit by Mr. Reuben Daniel, Directorate of Vocational Training (DVT) at the Ministry of Labour, Public Service and Human Resource Development (MoLPSHRD) South Sudan
The visit was aimed at assessing the progress of the skills training of the South Sudanese Refugees at Panyadoli Vocational Training Institute (PVTI) in Kiryandogo Refugee Settlement, Uganda with the objective of studying and documenting the Skills Training at Panyadoli Vocational Training Institute (PVTI).

During his five day visit, he held meetings with PVTI administration and instructors, with the south Sudanese Instructors and Nakawa Vocational Institutes Instructors. (see full report for findings)

2.4.3        Supervisory visit by delegation from JICA and the Undersecretary from the Ministry of Labour, Public Service and Human Resource Development (MoLPSHRD)    Background to the visit
The high level delegation that visited PVTI consisted of the Country Representative from JICA, the Ministry of Labour, Public Service and Human Resource Development (MoLPSHRD was represented by the Undersecretary Mrs. Achiro Hellen Lorata who was accompanied by media from the Republic of South Sudan.  The purpose of the visit was to assess the progress of the skills training of the South Sudanese Refugees at Panyadoli Vocational Training Institute (PVTI) in Kiryandongo Refugee Settlement, Uganda.
The one-day program involved a courtesy call to the Office of the Camp Commandant, departmental interaction to all the four PVTI Departments, a brief meeting with the Guild Executives, interaction with the refugee welfare councils, a brief meeting with the institutional administration and staff, and a tour to the settlement reception center. The day’s activities are summarized below.      Visit to the Office of the Prime Minister (Camp Commandant)
While at Office of the Prime Minister, the RMF Country Director introduced the delegation to the Deputy Camp Commandant and explained the purpose of their visit and highlighted the institutional progress. He then invited the head of delegation who introduced himself and the other guests and briefly shared about the cooperation between JICA and South Sudan in promoting vocational skills.

In her remarks, the Undersecretary appreciated the warm welcome and the cooperation between the Governments of Uganda and South Sudan. She emphasized that her visit was meant to show solidarity between the two Governments and to know efforts in various areas of cooperation between Nakawa Vocational Technical Institute and the support through JICA. The Government of South Sudan was still in the process of peace negotiation for the full attainment of peace.

In his remarks, the Deputy Settlement Commandant welcomed the delegates and explained the operational and management arrangement of Kiryandongo Refugee Settlement. He pointed out the overall responsibility of the settlement which under the OPM being responsible for security, management and monitoring of programs, an activity done through various organizations.  
He thanked; the delegates for coming as good gesture for the refuges and the government, the partnership between RMF, South Sudan with support from JICA as hope for the people who were forced out of their homes and having lost everything.
In reference to the settlement infrastructure, he highlighted that the settlement covered 26 square kilometers, with four government aided primary schools, one private community primary school and one private community aided senior secondary school. Refugees are received and documented, they are allocated one acre of land, given food ratios to sustain them for one month and as a result the nearby trading center (Bweyale) has developed as a business center.

He pledged the Government’s continued support to the welfare and security of the refugees and concluded by thanking the visitors and requested them to continue with the support so as to reach as many refugees as possible.        Interviews with trainees (Guild Executives)
During the Guild Executives meeting the Guild President welcomed the delegation and introduced the rest of the Guild Representatives. It was agreed that this meeting addresses issues that concern the trainees from the trainees’ representatives and below are the issues that were raised by the executives.
o    The department of Hair dressing doesn’t have a South Sudanese trainer, for purposes of translation; they expressed the need to employ a South Sudanese in order to take care of the non-English speaking trainees.
o    The executives requested that the current trainers from South Sudan be retained so as to train others.
o    They expressed that the training period of three months was not enough for the trainees to confidently move out to the field and requested that the training period be extend to four months.
o    They requested the Government of South Sudan to consider sponsoring those trainees who have performed well for upgrading.
o    They requested that startup kits be provided to trainees.
The Undersecretary thanked the Guild Executives for being objective and encouraged them to concentrate on the training to attain skills for the betterment of their future; she emphasized that the current training period would probably not be extended; the next trainings could maybe be rescheduled to four months. She acknowledged that the request for startup kits had been received and that they were working to see where to lobby for support.        RMF and South Sudan community leaders
The delegation met with the Refugee representatives who are known as the Refugee Community Welfare Councils (RCWs). The meeting was chaired by the chairman of the RCWs who welcomed the guests and informed that the camp was made of refugees of South Sudan, Kenya, Rwanda, Burundi and other nationals who are internally displaced. The agenda involved prayer, self introduction, welcome remarks from the chairperson, community observations from the RCW members, remarks from the guests and a way forward and closure. The meeting highlights are summarized in the PDF report.       Meeting with instructors
•    The delegation met with the RMF administration together with the instructors. During the meeting it was recognized that the meeting didn’t begin on time because there was delay during the depositing of the funds which led to the delayed purchase of training materials. Some departments spent a considerable part of the two weeks building the temporary structures and setting up of working tables and equipments.
•    It was also observed that not all departments have enough workshop space and therefore requested that during the next intake, preparations should be done early and requested the support of expansion of the workshop space.
•    It was recognized that the institution doesn’t have any reference materials for information, text books, and computers to be used by the instructors to search for information. The instructors requested JICA to support each department with at least one computer to be used for purposes of improving ICT.
•    The delegation thanked the RMF administration together with the instructors for the achievements so far, they recognized that the training didn’t start on time but activities were ongoing and the great progress indeed proved that tremendous efforts were being made to reach the desired target of completing the designed curriculum.    Visit to the Reception Centre
During the visit to the reception center at the Kiryandongo Refugee Settlement, the visitors observed the process of the registration of new arrivals and were even able to with visit a few of the arrivals as seen in the pictures 1 and 2 below.

3.1     Hair Dressing and Beauty Therapy (HDBT)
This is a continuing department after being inherited in 2011. During the intakes enrollment, a total of 28 trainees, 2 male and 26 female, were enrolled.

The departmental curriculum was divided into two sections; hair dressing and beauty therapy and according to the setup of the curriculum, each of the sections had a training duration of three months consisting each of 6 and 3 modules, respectively.

However in regards to the set training period of three months, all sections were covered, the trainees sufficiently covered the section of hairdressing and bits and pieces of beauty therapy. This could have been an oversight during the program design.
The department was fully equipped with hair dressers, steamers and all other accessories and materials required for implementation of the program. The trainees were exposed to both theoretical and practical lessons as basis for institutional training to which 100% of the curriculum was covered.

Internal assessments informing of practical tests were done and this has been used as a basis to evaluate the overall performance of each of the trainees in the department.  See below for details.

The general attendance of the trainees was good with recorded absenteeism during food distribution days, a program held to distribute food at the settlement. There were a total of 5 dropouts from the department.

This department faces a number of challenges and these include:

  1. The space available for this department is very limited. During the theory lessons and in between the different type of practices, the equipments have to be shifted. This may cause a danger to the equipment since during the time of shifting the equipment is vulnerable to damage. Many of the equipments are not being used because they cannot be accommodated in the present classrooms of the department. For instance a number of dryers, steamers, beauty therapy equipment are not being utilized. This limits their accessibility by all the trainees, thus denying the trainees enough practice with the equipment.
  2. The variety of cosmetics has run out for instance shampoo; hair pins, braid, etc. and while others were not procured.
  3. Absenteeism by the trainees due to the programs in the camp like food distribution. It is their individual obligation to secure food for themselves and for their families. Inevitably, they leave for this exercise.

3.2     Bricklaying and Concrete Practice (BCP)
This department is one of those that were introduced to PVTI with support from MoLPSHRD and JICA. The support was through the purchase of training equipments, training materials and salary for the two instructors that were attracted to the department.

Twenty (20) trainees were enrolled to this department and all were male. Attendance was very good for the trainees except for the food distribution days at the camp where trainees were required to pick up their food ratios.
With no lecture theatre, the enrolled trainees started on 29th December 2014 with the construction of their own shelter. The process involved them clearing the bush, laying, building and flooring the temporary shelter in which the theory and practices were held.  

The main materials like sand were purchased from nearby sources; bricks were molded and burnt within the institution. The training was composed of theoretical and practical lessons; the practical classes used sand mixed with lime.
By the end of the three-month training period a total of 3 trainees dropped out of the training.

3.1    Carpentry and Joinery (CJ)
This is one of the departments introduced to the institution with support from JICA and MoLPSHRD. The support was received in form of training materials and support in form of salaries for the two instructors.

A total of 20 trainees were initially enrolled but by the examination time, only 15 trainees registered and sat the practical examinations that were set by DIT.

Like the BCP, the trainees began by clearing the bush after which they constructed their shelter that they currently use for practicals. The trainees were provided with overcoats that were purchased by RMF. Ten working benches/tables were joined by the students on which their practicals were being carried, they also joined two tool boxes to which their work tools are stored. This has greatly improved the security and the method to which the daily tools are being accessed and stored.

3.2    Tailoring and Garment Cutting (TGC)
The department had 43 trainees who registered and sat for DIT examinations. All the trainees from this department were South Sudanese refugees of which 2 were male and 41 were female.
With support from JICA and Windle Trust this department was equipped with all the necessary equipments like sewing machines, over locks machines, ironing tables, training materials and other equipments.  
The department was equipped with four instructors who provided training and supervision to the trainees for the training period.

The 26 sqm Kiryandongo Refugee Settlement was established by the Ugandan Government for the settlement of refugees. This settlement is managed by the Office of the Prime Minister which is responsible for security, management and monitoring of programs, an activity done through various organizations. As a result, all operations in the settlement are managed by the OPM which authorizes organizations to operate in the settlement.

By mandate of its position, the United Nations High Commission for Refugees coordinates with other implementing organizations through which services are rendered to the refugees. This creates a framework of networking and alliances for service delivery.

As an Implementing Partner, RMF is mandated by OPM to operate within the settlement to implement training programs at PVTI. And through a retooling program with support from the United Nations High Commission for Refugees, Windle Trust provided training tools to all the four departments at PVTI.
UNHCR provides a fulltime generator which is used to run PVTI office computers, equipments in the hair dressing and beauty therapy department and in the tailoring departments.

RMF partnered with the Directorate of Vocational Training (DVT) at the Ministry of Labour, Public Service and Human Resource Development (MoLPSHRD) South Sudan and with support and supervision from JICA; the basic training program benefited 98 trainees who attained Directorate of Industrial Training Certificates from the Ministry of Education and Sports.
With support from JICA, monitoring and supervision of the training was done by the team from Nakawa Vocational Training Institute, thus a coloration whose contribution highly credited the skills training implemented by RMF at Panyadoli Vocational Training Institute as a place of fine achievement.  

96 trainees were graduated at PVTI with a ceremony that was attended by the graduates’ family members, staff and management of RMF/PVTI, representatives from the implementing and operating partners in the refugee settlement, Kiryandongo district officials, officials from the Republic of South Sudan Government (Minister and Undersecretary); the Director General of Vocational Training Ministry of Labour, Public Service and Human Resource Development, the Undersecretary of Labour and Public Service and Human Resource Development and the Chief Representative of JICA South Sudan and a media team.

This Basic Skills Vocational Training Outreach Programme is the first of its kind that has been organized at PVTI at the Kiryandongo Refugee Settlement implemented by Real Medicine Foundation (RMF) under the supervision of JICA and the Directorate of Vocational Training (DVT) at the Ministry of Labour, Public Service and Human Resource Development (MoLPSHRD) South Sudan.

This arrangement has truly proven that it’s possible to have skills empowerment programs in the refugee settlement and that two or even more governments can pool resources together for the good and benefit of a common cause. It has also proven that skillsbuilding is an important component for any community’s development and the empowerment of people for self-reliance and sustainability of individuals for a better life.

The curriculum that was designed by MoSPHRD with support from NVTI gave a good guide for the progress of the training at the institution, illustrating both theory and practical guidance.

While in certain instances language barriers hindered communication among the trainees, the recorded skills progress of some of the trainees who could not speak English, Arabic or Dinka proved that visual illustrations is a very important component of any skills training program.

Cultural influence and individual background is very important for smooth operations and management of any activity. Certain instances of rudeness and fighting was experienced by our trainees amongst themselves for instance in the TGC department a fight arose over a bobbin case.

The strategic and technical support provided by the partnership between Nakawa Vocational Training Institute and JICA provided timely guidance for the implementation of the basic skills training program at PVTI.

Community participation and contribution towards the program was under estimated. As a result, the trainees demanded every other thing to be provided by the sponsors of the program yet these were not included in the program. These items included passport photos that were required by DIT for registration, security measures including aprons, overalls and footwear. Consideration in subsequent trainings should include the trainees contributing to those items that they will need for themselves as a strategy to promote ownership and commitment towards the program.

The 40% dropout rate indicates that the institution was dealing with dynamic trainees. From the comparison of the trainees’ attendance and dropout over the period of training a total of 23 trainees dropped out due to various reasons; some returned back to South Sudan, others went back to school, while some could just note cope with the pressure of the program. It can be concluded that the institute was dealing with a highly mobile and traumatized community whose commitment to training is determined by the environment and the circumstances around them.

Photos: (top to bottom) Commandant OPM giving a speech at the graduation; chief invited guests — Honorable Minister, Undersecretary, JICA and RMF directors; the Honorable Minister inspecting the work completed in Carpentry and Joinery; the Honorable Minister visiting the shops of the tailors in Bweyale town council; the Honorable Minister awarding certificates to the graduates; the Honorable Minister inspecting the work of the graduated builders that particpated in the construction of a new house



In April 2011, RMF initiated the Panyadoli Vocational Training Institute (PVTI) at the Kiryandongo Refugee Settlement after being presented by the refugee community with issues surrounding the lack of skills and vocational training for students graduating from the settlement high school.
After researching which skills would provide the quickest earning opportunities and the most efficient economic investment requirements for RMF, we narrowed the programs down to:

  • Hairdressing and Beauty Therapy
  • Bricklaying and Concrete Practice
  • Carpentry and Joinery
  • Tailoring and Garment Cutting


  • To train the refugees with relevant vocational training skills
  • To prepare the refugees for the work world with entrepreneurial skills for both employment and self-employment
  • To prepare refugees with basic skills that they shall use for nation building when returning to their home country
  • To foster a cycle of improved economic stability and opportunity in the region