SKILLS DEV’T AGENDA: Why the surge in TVET numbers under UBTEB assessment is good news for NRM gov’t

Having rightly concluded that Uganda’s economic fortunes and jobs scarcity can be turned around by a skilled population, the National Resistance Movement (NRM) government has been advocating for skills development through support for R&D human capital development.

NRM’s policy is to attract learners into Business, Technical and Vocational Education Training (BTVET) and reskill artisans already in the job market.

All line Government Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) are supposed to tow this line to the dot with guidance and one of them has been Uganda Business and Technical Examinations Board (UBTEB), a National Examinations Board mandated by the Act of Parliament of Uganda to streamline, regulate, coordinate, and conduct credible national examinations and award Certificates and Diplomas in the Business, Technical, and Vocational/ specialized education or training in Uganda.

Since 2012, the country has been experiencing a significant growth in numbers of BTVET learners and graduates under UBTEB assessment, something that the NRM bosses must be proud of.


Since 2013, UBTEB has been assessing programs in Technical diploma and certificate, Business diploma and certificate and as well Phys & Biol diploma and certificate.

According to Sam Patrick Ogwang, UBTEB’s Principal Examinations Officer (Delivery and Awards), in 2012, UBTEB registered a total of 9,198 candidates. Of these, 4,641 acquired full competences and joined the world of work while 4,370 had to retake.

In 2013, the numbers grew to 24,373. Of these, 11,756 acquired full competences and joined the world of work while 10,282 were advised to retake.

25,790 candidates were registered in 2014. Of these, 19,956 fully completed and joined the world of work while 2,968 repeated.

In 2015, UBTEB registered a total of 32,603 candidates. 23,621 passed and joined the world of work while 6,583 were advised to retake some subjects.

In 2016, 32,873 candidates were registered and out of these 23,288 fully acquired competences while 6,916 had to retake.

The number of candidates registered grew to 36,910 in 2017. 24,672 passed while 8,416 had to retake some subjects.

In 2018, UBTEB registered a total number of 34,988 candidates. 24,088 acquired full competences while 8,742 had to retake.

In 2019, 33,448 candidates were registered. Of these, 22,426 passed and joined the world of work, while 6,725 were advised to retake.

Due to Covid-19, only 26,529 candidates were registered in December 2020. 17,388 passed and joined the world or work while 5,960 had to retake.

The Board did not conduct any examinations in the year 2021 due to the Covid-19 pandemic, according to Ogwang.

He says this led to a surge in the number of candidates to 76,559 in 2020 after Covid-19 break.

Of these, 54,881 acquired full competences and joined the world of work while 15,160 had to repeat.

Last year, UBTEB registered 39,374 candidates. 27,991 passed while 3,809 had to repeat.

In total, in the last 10 years (between 2013 and 2023), UBTEB’s overall grand total of registered candidates stands at 372,645.

In total, 254,707 (76%) learners have been able to acquire full competencies and join the world of work in the last ten years, while 79,941 (24%) are yet to complete after being advised to retake.

According to Ogwang, there is a growing number of candidates for TVET. He says this can partly be attributed to the revision of the mode of admissions by the Ministry of Education and Sports.

“There is a decentralized admission for all regions in Uganda. The admission takes the interest of the applicant into a course with priority and considers relevant subjects done at lower level,” he explained, a view shared by Onesmus Oyesigye, the UBTEB Executive Secretary.

Oyesigye also attributes the growth in numbers to the introduction of modularized assessment which is saleable.

“Because of the productive nature of most TVET careers, students now finish programs when they are ready to go for work which has attracted other students to pursue TVET careers,” Oyesigye added.

For Jalia Nasaza, Manager Vocational Institutions at UBTEB, Ugandans have now begun to understand and appreciate BTVET programs, a reason numbers are increasing.

She says parents now prefer their children to start from Certificate and then upgrade.

“Students with even first grades prefer BTVET.  People have now generally begun to understand and appreciate BTVET benefits. It has gained ground,” she said.

According to Herbert Wanda, UBTEB’s Principal Planning, Budgeting and Investment Officer, 64 percent of BTVET graduates are in productive engagements. He says results from tracer studies of BTVET graduates in the job market indicate good work especially in areas of civil, mechanical, water and electrical engineering.

To attract more numbers, he says the government should fully implement the one year of compulsory TVET training immediately after A’level before enrolling for further education.

“Our prayers and hope are that this can be implemented in NDPIV. Imagine a student going to university with some skill like hair cutting, shoe making, plumbing, wiring, tailoring and others.”

To attract more numbers into BTVET the government is suggesting a relaxation of entry requirements so that willing learners, regardless of previous qualifications, are eligible for admission.

Wanda says UBTEB is coming up with guidelines where a student without any formal education can join BTVET and a qualification framework is being worked on.

“We need to recognize prior learning. We need to set qualification levels for let’s say Level 1, 2, 3… etc. We are working on that,” he explained.

Wanda also recommends conduct of regular tracer study; review of training and employment policies-by Gender and Social Development; decentralizing training and assessment system for flexible coordination of TVET system; and enhancing TVET bill and policy 2019 in terms of implementation, monitoring and evaluation, and addressing the curriculum issues.

He is further calling for popularization of TVET training programs for assessment, more funding for TVET training and assessment and as well involvement of UBTEB officials in the NRM Manifesto formulation.

He is also worried that once funds are not availed as soon as possible, the UBTEB assessment centre which is currently under construction may stall since the first phase ends in January 2025.




2012 15,052 4,641 4,370
2013 24,373 11,756 10,282
2014 25,790 19,956 2,968
2015 32,603 23,621 6,583
2016 32,873 23,288 6,916
2017 36,910 24,671 8,416
2018 34,988 24,088 8,752
2019 33,448 22,426 6,725
2010 26,529 17,388 5,960
2022 76,559 54,881 15,160
2023 39,374 27,991 3,809
OVERALL GRAND TOTAL 372,645 254,707 79,941


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