Northern Alberta Institute of Technology

Partnership builds road construction skills in Uganda

Three-year agreement builds local teaching capacity

NAIT experts are developing a road construction and maintenance program in a remote part of Uganda, training teachers and students to support the country’s industry.

The polytechnic recently signed a three-year agreement with the Ugandan government as part of the Uganda Skills Development Project, a World Bank-funded effort to enhance the capacity of technical schools to deliver training programs in priority industries. The eight-month certificate program in highway engineering and road construction will be taught at Uganda Technical College Lira (UTC-Lira).

Ignacio Garcia, portfolio manager with NAIT Corporate and International Training, says the agreement will be based on existing NAIT courses but adapted to Uganda’s local needs. NAIT will train instructors and advise on upgrading school facilities and equipment.

“The ultimate goal of the project is to help them become a centre of excellence in road and highway construction.”

Uganda partnership

“The ultimate goal of the project is to help them become a centre of excellence in road and highway construction, not just in Lira but for all of Uganda,” says Garcia.

“The majority of the roads in Uganda are being built by foreigners,” he adds. “The labourers are Ugandan, but the technical work is being done by people from other countries.”

The new training program will allow local workers to move into more senior, skilled positions and bolster the road construction industry in Uganda, he says.

Teaching the teachers

During the first year of the project, four NAIT instructors will take turns teaching sections of the program in Lira to about 14 Ugandan instructors. Eight of those instructors will also come to NAIT for three weeks in January.

During the program’s second year, NAIT instructors will co-teach with the Ugandan instructors in Lira. They expect to have about 24 students. In the third year, NAIT staff will advise as needed.

Most of the Ugandan instructors already have backgrounds in civil engineering, says Garcia. But there is no hands-on, technical training in road construction available there.

uganda road building partnership“That’s where NAIT fits in perfectly. Producing employable graduates is fundamental to this project.” Staff are also developing connections with key players in Ugandan industry to set up internships and job opportunities for students.  

David Zdebiak, associate dean academic in NAIT’s School of Applied Sciences and Technology, says the project provides a great opportunity for the polytechnic’s instructors and students.

“It’s important for us to share our expertise in these fields, and to interact with and learn from colleagues in other countries,” he says.

“We gain knowledge and new perspectives from them and then bring those international perspectives to the classroom for our students.”

NAIT’s global partnerships

NAIT has participated in many training projects with companies and institutions around the world. Here are some examples:

  • U.S. – Partnered with Intefor Corporation to deliver customized online training for millwrights from several U.S. lumber mills
  • Libya – Accrediting the welding and electrician program for the Petroleum Training and Qualifying Institute in Tripoli; currently working on developing its instrumentation program
  • Mexico - Customized training for maintenance workers at the Minas de Oro Nacional gold mine in Sonora State, Mexico. NAIT also trained electricians, millwrights and heavy equipment technicians for their Mulatos mine.
  • India - Developed a world-class welding and pipe trades training centre with the Sri Ramakrishna Advanced Training Institute in southern India
  • Cuba – Worked with the Cuban National Oil Corporation to develop training centres at five locations around the country

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