The work at the Siriba Vocational Training Centre (VTC) is progressing well. Currently there are 54 registered students with four courses running. There are courses in carpentry and tailoring which were the first two courses to be offered when the project started. There are now two new courses on motor vehicle maintenance and in building skills. There are nine tutors some of whom are paid and some offering their services in a voluntary capacity. It was agreed with the local managers of the project that apart from carpentry and tailoring all new courses should be fully self funding and this has seemed to work. The two original courses and the general running of the VTC continue to need grant aid in order to flourish.
Investigations are underway with the appropriate ministries with the Ugandan Government for proper recognition of the VTC and the qualifications that it awards. If full recognition is to be given then it is clear that the government will need high standards and it is also clear that demands will be made on the resources of the VTC. For example the government will require the proper provision of sufficient latrines. We have been able to send out some extra grants for latrines and also some money for electricity provision. This has only been possible because of the generosity of donors. Further grants will be required to bring the VTC up to government standards and hope that some funding may follow that will help the project towards self sustainability.
The Siriba VTC is in the grounds of a Church of Uganda Primary School. The Headteacher of the School and the two Deputy Heads were leading players in the founding of the VTC. One of the Deputy Heads moved a little while ago to be the Headteacher of a nearby school in a Refugee Camp. Earlier this year the Headteacher and the remaining Deputy Head were also moved to other schools. These moves made local governance of the project a bit shaky and the response has been to create a completely new Board of Governors. This has now met and the hope is that it will give the project a new impetus.
I visited the project on 2010 and in 2011. Another volunteer, who helped with the building of the VTC, is about to go out to visit the unit and to monitor progress. Over the last year we have been receiving better reports by Email, but there is nothing better than the personal touch. He is also going to see how the new Board of Governors is shaping up, as well as to encourage staff and students.
In my previous reports I have mentioned the situation concerning the borehole. There was no water on site and so it was agreed to make a donation to sink a borehole. This was done first in 2008 but the borehole turned out to be dry. In 2011 a new borehole was drilled (after two attempts) and initially worked well. However we have heard from the Busoga Trust who organised the installation that this new borehole is only supplying water for part of the day. The Trust has advised us to have a new geological survey done and then consider sinking yet another borehole.
Another problem is that the Ugandan Government has imposed heavy duties on imported items including tools which are being sent out from abroad. We had organised another substantial shipment of tools for carpentry and tailoring but the charity that organises this has had to delay the shipment until talks with the government can, hopefully, resolve the problem. If this cannot be done then it may be cheaper in the long run to send out cash grants rather than pay for expensive shipping and duty.