I was born in the countryside of Western Uganda just beside the Queen Elisabeth National Park where I grew up with four sisters and three brothers. My parents were peasants and had little money. I was going in and out of school depending on the money available. Life was not easy, but my parents wanted their children to have access to education.
‘Thanks to my savings, I moved to Kampala to study tourism’
My passion for tourism in general, and for birds in particular, has been part of me since I was a child. Uganda has wonderful nature to offer with one of the biggest varieties of birds in the world. Can you imagine how inspirational that is for someone passionate about nature? Since my early childhood, my dream was to go to university and work in the tourism industry. My only chance to make it was to stay focused and save money to continue to go to school and get skilled. Thanks to my motivation and my savings, I moved to Kampala when I finished college and studied tourism for three years. When I completed my degree, I came across a vacancy for a tourist guide driver for which I applied. It was a quite competitive selection process. I was part of the 12 selected candidates on 150 applicants getting trained for a whole month. At the end of the training, they selected four people: two on a temporary basis and two on a permanent basis. I was lucky enough to receive a permanent contract. That is how I joined the tourism industry in Uganda and made my dream come true.
‘It took me some time to promote the importance of skilling people in my country, but it was worth it.’
The business potential of the tourism sector in Uganda is huge, but the sector is not yet structured enough to live up to its potential. That is why I decided to establish my own association of guides. I learned at university how to organise trainings and I started to organise my own trainings for Ugandans interested in becoming tourist guides. At that time, job training was a new concept in the country and there was no money from the Government to support it. I had to work very hard to get support from outside. With the kind support of the European Union and other non-profit organisations, I managed to continue organising trainings. After a few years, the Ugandan government realised that skills development in the tourism sector should be a priority as it brings a lot of income to Uganda and has the potential to create many jobs. In all these years I kept advocating for the importance of skilling people in the tourism sector in my country as I strongly believe in it.
‘Thanks to the support of the VET Toolbox, we have organised a 3-day training to make the tourism Sector Skills council more operational.’
I can say that we have come even closer to making the Tourism Sector Skills Council in Uganda operational. Thanks to the support of the VET Toolbox, we have organised a 3-day training to make an action plan and support the continuous establishment of a secretariat to handle the day-to-day business of the Tourism and Hospitality Sector Skills Council. Representatives from the private sector, ministries, trade unions, civil society organisations and VET trainers working in the sector of tourism and hospitality participated in that workshop hosted by Enabel with support of British Council, both implementing partners of the VET Toolbox. This is a very important step in building sustainability for the future in the tourism sector in Uganda.
Kampala, 14 June 2019 © VET Toolbox
Meet Hebert Byaruhanga, Chairman of the Tourism Sector Skills Council in Uganda, and get inspired by his beautiful commitment!