The Potentiam Youth Centre (PYC), as opposed to regular vocational schools in Uganda, addresses the lack of focus on building the youth’s entrepreneurial and personal development skills. Last year, in order to explore the actual impact our specially designed courses have on the livelihoods of disadvantaged youth, a pilot study was conducted. After graduating high school, Abdul Karim, one of our scholarship students, was enrolled in the core course of our Youth Centre, instead of putting him into a vocational school. This allowed us observing how the PYC affected his attitude and the overall performance during and after the course. Having gone through the intense training of the PYC, today, Karim is one of the strongest characters of our scholarship project and a success story to the PYC. Right after finishing our course he got a foothold in the professional life. He is currently working as a marketer for a furniture company in Kampala, while at the same time completing an evening course at vocational school YMCA.
Growing up in a small fishing village, Karim came from a humble background. Even though various job opportunities are to be found in this area, for example as electricians, secretaries or even managers in hotels, many young people are struggling to sell themselves on the labour market after having completed their education. The intense training at the PYC should help Karim strengthening his English skills and most importantly, building up his self-confidence and changing his attitude towards employment. After having completed the core course at the PYC, Karim was very ambitious; he got a grip on real life. He realized that the road to success is not necessarily attributed to an academic career, but rather to a sober mind and a hardworking soul. One has to be pro-active and committed to be able to follow one’s dream. In May 2015, an interview was held with Karim, where he reflected on his experience at the PYC:
“Going to the PYC has opened my eyes to the realities and harshness of this world. I never thought that I could make it without a university degree, but after talking to a few students who have made it without attending university, I have realized that all it takes is me and a change in my attitude. I will do all necessary to achieve my dream.”
Karim used the skills and the self-confidence he gained through the Youth Centre to develop his own personal goals and to pave his professional pathway. Completing an evening course at the vocational school in ”Wildlive and Tourism”, while simultaneously working as a marketer to make a living just shows how much ambition and dedication he has gathered through the PYC. The pilot study clearly revealed the positive impact and strong transformative power the courses at our Youth Centre have on the attitude and employability of our students. We strongly believe that the PYC, as compared to the academic pathway, does make a difference in that it actually prepares young people in an effective and practical way to get a livelihood. This is why our scholarship students, who completed a vocational training at the YMCA, were offered the opportunity to benefit from the PYC like Karim did. Together with three other scholarship students, who recently graduated from high school, four of the YMCA graduates joined our core course. So far, they are doing great and already seem to have personally developed and grown considerably.
Our core course is structured around Business English, Entrepreneurship and ICT classes, while Personal Development is at the heart of our education curriculum. Students receive personal mentoring and are taken through a number of courses to change their attitude, increase their work ethics, develop their self-awareness, give them a sense of direction and help them strengthening resilience, while improving their focus and effectiveness. They are taught how to invest in themselves and create a personal vision, so that they are able to manage themselves effectively regardless of whatever life might bring. Instead of waiting for things to happen, they learn to be confident, take risks and actually make things happen. Even though they might not always achieve all of their objectives, they will experience a richer and more rewarding life, by committing to pursuing their dream. We are convinced that this commitment to pro-actively work on creating their own future is the first step on the path to their personal fulfilment.
To sum up, with our specially designed courses at the Youth Centre, we are aiming at making a difference by allowing disadvantaged youth to move out of the programme well grounded so that they are empowered to face the challenges life will throw at them in their endeavours.
– written by Agnes Kampire