Vocational Skills Building at John Hill Secondary School

Social Issue

Located just outside Jinja town, the Njeru community surrounding the school is highly populated. The biggest percentage of the population around the area is composed of young people who have not received basic education. There are so many reasons as to why young people in the area are not educated. Both parents and children desire school attendance and to build a better future for themselves. However, most families lack the funds to pay for school fees. Additionally, many children graduate from the National Curriculum but still fail to get jobs. There is an extremely high unemployment rate among Ugandan youth. It is from these community challenges that the school was established. The school administration works hand in hand with the local communities to provide education programs that work to help the growth and transformation of the students while complementing the low incomes received by the families of the students. It also aims to provide an academic and vocational background to students to prepare them for their futures.

Project Description

The project focuses on working along with John Hill school administration to improve on the Vocation Skills Development Center.

The objectives are:

  • To enable students to acquire an education that meets the national academic standards

  • To equip students with basic vocational skills to supplement their school fees and prepare them for their future careers

  • To improve the surrounding communities’ livelihood

The current projects include:

a. Crafts and Shoe Project: This is part of the Vocational Skills Development Center which majorly focuses on equipping students with skills on how to make shoes and crafts like belts, wallets, and bracelets. The aim of the project is to empower students to acquire an entrepreneurial mindset.

b. Sanitary Pads Project: This is the school’s health club project that was started due to the challenges young girls face with menstruation. Many girls are stigmatized and choose to miss school during their periods because they cannot afford to buy pads. Production of sanitary pads and selling them at a very cheap price is aimed to help poor families easily buy these pads for their girls to reduce these challenges. The school’s health club also works with the communities to empower them ways to improve hygiene and sanitation to reduce the spread of diseases brought about by poor hygiene and sanitation. The school’s health club works alongside the Vocational Skills Development Center for the Sanitary Pads Project.

C. Exercise Book Project: Most students enrolled in John Hill school and neighboring schools often lack of scholastic materials due to their low incomes. Among the scholastic materials include exercise books. The Exercise Book Project is aimed training students on how to make exercise books so that they are able to acquire books for their education and sell some to students in neighboring schools for income generation.

d. Computer Graphics and Design Project: The purpose of this course is to engage students in developing their computer skills. Technological skills are becoming increasingly important in Uganda, yet most families do not have access to a laptop or computer. This division of the vocational center will focus on teaching children how to use Adobe graphics, Microsoft Suite, among other common computer skills to encourage creativity and technological savviness.

e. Games & Sports Project: This is more of an extracurricular activity encouraged by John Hill to teach students sports such as Rugby, basketball, soccer (futbol), table tennis, chess, and more. To engage students in physical activity while stimulating healthy competition, strategy, and teamwork helps give students the opportunity to grow. The Games & Sports Project is currently run on Mondays and Wednesdays.

The FSD participant will be able to work along with the school’s administration, staff, and students to identify community needs, gaps, and challenges related to the school programs. From the gaps identified, the participant is then required to come up with strategies on how to improve on the program and scale the impact of the program to the students and communities.

Community Impact

The aim of this project is to support low income families and build better futures for students. The project will help improve learning to meet Uganda national education standards. The vocational skills projects will help nurture the students to afford their tuition and prepare for a future career. It will equip students with entrepreneurial skills and the confidence to start up income-generating projects that help to improve their welfare. The projects started from this school program compliment parents’ efforts to have their children in school thus reducing stress and financial burdens.

Student/Volunteer(s) profile(s)

The student should be English speaking, very social, disciplined and ready to learn. A background in Education and curriculum development would be helpful.

Description of the Community Partner

John Hill Secondary School is a mixed community school with ordinary level (O’ Level) and advanced level (A’ level) students who come from low income poor families. The school has a total of 80 students. The school has 21 teaching staff and two non-teaching staff, of whom 10 are female and 13 are male. The school was formed by a group of young, educated teachers who came together with a vision to help their community that has few secondary schools. Many people in the Njeru area have very low incomes, but a dire need to send their children to school. There are two programs offered at the school:

  1. The National Uganda Student Curriculum. The national curriculum focuses on providing education to students on subjects which are nationally examined.

  2. Vocational Skills Development Center. The skills development center is an extra-curricular program which focuses empowering students with vocational and entrepreneurial skills. The goal of the program is to enable students to start small businesses to generate income and subsidize their tuition fees.