Non-Formal Education and Livelihood Skills Training Programme (NFELSTP)

Country Profile: Uganda


36,573,000 (2013)

Official Language

English and Swahili

Total Expenditure on Education as % of GDP

2.2% (2013)

Access to Primary Education – Total Net Intake Rate (NIR)

93.65% (2013)

Youth Literacy Rate (15-24 years)
  • Total: 87% (2015)
  • Female: 86.57
  • Male: 87.4%
Adult Literacy Rate (15 years and over, 1995-2004)
  • Total: 73.86% (2015)
  • Female: 66.89%
  • Male: 80.85%

UNESCO Institute for Statistics

Programme Overview

Programme TitleNon-Formal Education and Livelihood Skills Training Programme (NFELSTP)
Implementing OrganizationUganda Youth Development Link (UYDEL)
Language of InstructionEnglish and local languages
Programme PartnersMinistry of Gender, Labour and Social Development, Makerere University (Department of Social Work and Social Administration), AYIVU Rural Participatory Development (ARUPIDE).
Date of Inception2004–05

Context and background

The provision of educational opportunities to all citizens is central to Uganda’s developmental poverty alleviation, social empowerment and transformation strategies. Various educational programmes and policies including the Universal Primary Education (UPE, 1997), the Universal Secondary Education (USE, 2007) and the Functional Adult Literacy Programme (FALP, a component of the national Poverty Eradication Action Plan – PEAP) have been instituted in recent years. Although beset by severe challenges such as the lack of resources and sustained political will, these programmes have had some positive educational impact. For instance, as a result of the UPE which provided free and compulsory primary education, the national primary school enrolment rate rose dramatically from 2.5 million in 1997 to 7.2 million in 2000. By 2005, the net intake rate (NIR) in primary education had risen to 66%. However, these programmes have not been accessible to all, especially to children and youth living in remote and marginalised communities. According to a recent study, the Functional Adult Literacy Programme (FALP) which endeavoured to promote youth and adult functional literacy, was only accessible to about 5% of the potential beneficiaries while only about 37.4% of children who completed primary school under the UPE programme were able to access secondary education. Furthermore, the secondary school system hardly provides learners with adequate vocational skills training opportunities. Essentially therefore, most youth – particularly those living in marginalised rural and urban-slum communities – are forced either to drop-out-of or to graduate from the school system lacking the practical skills necessary for securing viable employment and livelihoods. This has made the youth more vulnerable to exploitative labour practices and to engaging in risky antisocial behaviour including drug abuse and prostitution which expose them to HIV/AIDs infection. In light of this and in an effort to create viable learning and livelihood opportunities for vulnerable youth, the Uganda Youth Development Link (UYDEL) – an NGO founded in 1993 – initiated the Non-Formal Education and Livelihood Skills Training Programme (NFELSTP) in 2004 with financial and technical support from UNESCO.

The Non-Formal Education and Livelihood Skills Training Programme (NFELSTP)


As noted above, the NFELSTP targets out-of-school and socioeconomically vulnerable youth (such as orphans, street youth, sex workers, domestic workers) from marginalised rural and urban-slum communities. Since its inception in 2004, the programme has been implemented in Kampala and Arua districts (urban and rural respectively).

In order to empower vulnerable and marginalised youth, UYDEL provides them with vocational and livelihood training in different skills or trades including hairdressing, tailoring, motor mechanics, carpentry, electronics, welding, and cookery.

In addition, UYDEL also provides programme participants with life skills training with particular focus on health issues including HIV/AIDS, reproductive health, nutrition, child-rearing, peer-counselling, drug and alcohol (substance) abuse. Essentially therefore, the NFELSTP is an integrated vocational/livelihood and life skills training programme which primarily endeavours to empower socioeconomically marginalised and vulnerable youth and, by extension, their equally disadvantaged families and communities.

Aims and objectives

Programme implementation: Approaches and methods

Institutional cooperation


Professionals, including academics and development specialists, play a critical role in the development and implementation of UYDEL’s programmes. Similarly, during the development of the NFELSTP, UYDEL worked closely with professionals from Makerere University, UNESCO, the Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development (MoGLSD) and various NGOs and CBOs. Noteworthy, professionals played a central role in the development of the project curriculum, teaching-learning materials and implementation strategies as well as in monitoring and evaluating the entire project. This cooperation helped to strengthen the capacity of UYDEL in the implementation of programme. Apart from professionals, ‘ordinary’ community members and activists were also actively consulted and involved in the identification of learners, artisans and implementation of the programme.

Recruitment of facilitators and local artisans

UYDEL has recruited two professional social workers who act as the key programme facilitators. In particular, the facilitators are responsible for community mobilisation, coordinating and monitoring programme activities, implementing public awareness campaigns and identifying and placing learners with local artisans who are skilled practitioners in selected vocational trades. Local youth, their guardians and community-based parents’ support groups also participate in identifying suitable artisans near their homes. These artisans are visited by the social workers to assess their willingness and capacity to train the youth. Based on the social workers’ assessments and recommendations, UYDEL then signs a memorandum of understanding with the artisans, specifying issues such as training, fees, period, and each party’s expectations. Recruited artisans are provided with basic programme orientation training and, afterwards, learners are placed with the artisans for a period of three to five months for on-site practical skills training in a field or trade of their choice. Apart from providing vocational skills training to the youth, the artisans are also entrusted with the responsibility of providing life skills training (mentorship) and it is for this reason that UYDEL often selects artisans of high moral standing, highly regarded by their communities.

Recruitment of learners


The identification, assessment and recruitment of vulnerable youth into the programme is done in different ways and by various stakeholders, including the youth themselves referring their peers to the programme, and community-based parents’ support groups, community leaders, artisans and activists identifying affected and vulnerable youth. Additionally, programme facilitators (social workers) also undertake regular visits and hold discussions with youth from marginalised rural and urban-slum communities to enlighten them about UYDEL’s non-formal education programmes. During such visits, the social workers also ascertain the identified youth’s levels of socioeconomic vulnerability, education and interest in order to screen them for appropriate vocational skills training placement. The pre-enrolment assessment, counselling and mentoring of potential learners is intended to ensure that only the most disadvantaged and thus deserving youth are enrolled into the programme as well as helping the youth to make an informed choice with regards to their potential vocational training.

Teaching-learning approaches and methods

In order to effectively equip learners with sustainable practical vocational skills, the training of learners under the NFELSTP is primarily through the use of participatory methods (i.e. action-based). To this end, all learners are placed under the mentorship of master artisans and as such, training is characterised by three major approaches: ‘learning by doing, learning by producing and learning by earning’. Learning by producing and earning is central to the training of the youth because most of them have been exposed to earning money at an early age having lived (and continuing to live) in dire conditions, including being homeless or heading households. This also explains most youth’s preference for training in trades that take a short period to complete. Additionally, participatory teaching-learning methods are also essential because most artisans and learners do not have formal education beyond primary level.

However, although the training of youth by artisans is largely informal, UYDEL and/or its partners often provide formal instruction to participants. Formal instruction – including seminars, group discussions/debates, story-telling and lectures – is primarily employed to facilitate the integration of health education into the programme. To this end, a number of easy-to-read learning materials such as booklets, pamphlets and posters have been produced to enable facilitators to effectively conduct health education classes. Some of the reading materials used include:

Assessment of learners


The assessment of learners and evaluation of learning/training outcomes is conducted on an ongoing basis by programme facilitators or social workers, UYDEL field supervisors and master artisans. The social worker and UYDEL field supervisors conduct regular visits to the master artisans’ work places in order to assess the training progress and any challenges being encountered, as well as to ascertain the artisan’s capacity to train the youth. The social worker and UYDEL field supervisors also use the field visits to identify behavioural changes in the youths and to provide them with ongoing psychosocial counselling, support and guidance. Furthermore, the master artisans also regularly evaluate the youths’ overall behaviour, training performance and progress and present reports to UYDEL.


The NFELSTP has made a significant impact on marginalised youths’ vocational skills competencies, livelihoods and psychosocial behaviour as well as on their communities’ development and general living standards. The programme has thus become one of the major instruments of fostering individual and collective (social) empowerment and transformation. More specifically, an evaluation report by UNESCO identified the following key contributions of the programme on youth and societal development and well-being:


Although the programme has had a positive impact in the lives of marginalised and vulnerable youth and their communities, it has also encountered major challenges. The UNESCO evaluation report cited above revealed the following key challenges:

Lessons learned

A number of lessons have been learnt during the course of the project implementation. These include:



Uganda Youth Development Link (UYDEL)
Sir Apollo Kaggwa Road,
P.O. Box 12659, Kampala, Uganda,
Tel: 041-530353
Email: uydel (at)

Last update: December 2011