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Ugandan teenagers struggle to acquire key life skills: report

A recent assessment of Ugandan adolescents has revealed that many struggle with key life skills such as problem solving, collaboration, self-awareness and respect.

The three-day contextualized assessment, which began on May 3, has shown that a large number of teenagers are unable to complete tasks or recognize names.

While some respondents are able to identify a problem and propose a possible solution, most are unable to identify multiple approaches to problem solving, evaluators told this publication on Friday.

“Some of the teenagers, especially some girls we tested, were a little shy, but when you interact with them more they feel a little more comfortable and then they open up,” said tester Mwajuma Mbabazi.

Hassan Twaha, another advisor, said: “In Oyam district, most teenagers are used to Lango names. For example, they didn’t know Bahati was a person’s name and thought it might be an animal.”

Winifred Joy Okello, another adviser, said teenagers in Loro sub-county seemed uncomfortable answering many questions.

“When you ask them too much, many of the teenagers get tired, others get upset,” he said.

Twaha said two teenagers they assessed from a boy-headed household in Ateb ‘B’ cell at Oyam Town Hall took them by surprise. This family of three children is headed by a 17-year-old boy.

“After the assessment, the eldest told us that his father just disappeared and they always hear rumors that he is in Nwoya district, and that it has taken three years. This means that he (his father) disappeared when this child was 14 years old. So he has been taking care of his other two siblings since his father and mother disappeared,” Twaha added.

A total of 1,050 Ugandan teenagers are participating in a new educational assessment aimed at measuring whether young people in East Africa are acquiring the skills needed to navigate today’s world.

The participants range in age from 13 to 17 years old and come from both inside and outside the school. They are selected from 75 enumeration areas in Oyam, Jinja and Kasese districts.

The assessment tool was developed by the Regional Educational Learning Initiative (RELI) network under its Action for Life Skills and Values ​​in East Africa (ALiVE) initiative.

Uganda is implementing a new competency-based lower secondary curriculum, designed to equip students with the skills and values ​​they need to face challenges with positivity and creativity.

The report indicates that these competencies are not only necessary in the workplace but are also crucial to support academic achievement and promote the comprehensive development of individuals and society.

To facilitate this transformative process in the region, RELI launched the East Africa Life Skills and Values ​​Assessment project in 2020. The project aims to develop a standard framework to measure skills, increase public awareness and strengthen local capacities to evaluate and promote skills and values ​​for life.