Experiences of adult learners with disability on non-formal skills development: a case of Lweza Vocational Rehabilitation Centre, Wakiso District, Uganda
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This study examined the perceptions of Ugandan adult learners with disability on non-formal vocational education and training (NFVET) with specific reference to participants of Lweza Vocational Rehabilitation Centre in Wakiso District. Using the social-constructivism philosophy and a qualitative research approach the study sought to: (a) establish learners’ motivation for participating in NFVET; (b) describe the teaching and learning process at Lweza Vocational Rehabilitation Centre; and (c) document learners’ perceptions and lived experiences of Lweza’s NFVET programme. Qualitative data was obtained from 11 disabled trainees who consisted of those intellectually challenged and the ones with hearing impairment and three instructors of hairdressing, leatherworks and tailoring courses. Data regarding learners’ motivation for participation, perceptions and experiences were gathered through focus group discussions while data on how the teaching and learning process is conducted were obtained through interviews with instructors and reinforced with data from direct observation of training sessions. Data was qualitatively analysed, presented using AtlasTi software and discussed in line with relevant literature. The study objectives findings indicate that: (a) persons with disabilities participate in vocational training mainly to acquire various skills for income generation; (b) the training is not needs-oriented and conducted without training needs assessment; lacks curriculum, adequate instructional tools, skilled facilitators, teaching and learning materials and takes place in dilapidated workshops; (c) the trainees perceive the NFVET as an intervention that cannot equip them with the necessary skills to become self-employed after the training. Theoretically, through the transformative learning theory lens the study concludes that the training is not on course to transform learners’ perspectives of self and society. It recommends that the development of the training curriculum should take into consideration both work and life skills of the target participants as well as their learning and training needs. Furthermore, efforts should be made to undertake formative, mid-term and summative learning assessments using appropriate tools and provide adequate and suitable teaching and learning materials for semi-literate learners with disabilities. The study concludes that that there’s no formal training needs assessment conducted, no formal curriculum, poor state of facilities, instructional materials, tools and equipment are inadequate. However, learners have a positive attitude towards the training especially the mode of instruction i.e. learning by doing while the instructors believe that with improvement in quality of instruction materials learners’ skills would be strengthened and enable them to successfully become self-employed at the end of the training.