Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) is central to the Education sector as a whole and specifically to the National Teachers Colleges (NTC), given their facilities, assets, day-to-day activities, and interactions. However, there has been a capacity gap in the colleges' human, technical and financial resources concerning safety for a while. At Enabel, creating a safe learning environment is at the heart of all our initiatives in the teacher training colleges. We do this by raising awareness among students and staff about their safety online and on-site at the colleges through various capacity-building activities.
In June and July this year, we partnered with the Ministry of Education and Sports to train students and staff from the five teacher training colleges to foster a safety culture and encourage the proper use of assets in these institutions. The training focused on emergency response procedures such as fire drills, first aid administration, emergency response protocols and risk control procedures. It targeted the security teams, the Safe Learning Environment (SLE) committees for each college, student representatives and teaching and non-teaching staff. The training was conducted by the Uganda Road Accident Reduction Network Organization (URENNO), which promotes safety through training, public awareness-raising, advocacy and research. The training followed a workshop where various education stakeholders and safety experts across the country gathered to validate safety training and awareness-raising materials for the colleges early this year.
At one of the sessions in NTC Kaliro, Gafabusa Josephat, the Deputy Principal highlighted the importance of practicing and applying safety precautions in the day-to-day college activities. He said, "The skills acquired in this training are critical in ensuring our safety at the college and in our respective homes. We must adopt and share them within our communities."
The training presented an opportunity for staff and students to identify and map unsafe areas in the colleges, emergency evacuation and fire assembly points and recommended safety precautions. It also allowed the participants to interact with the fire and emergency rescue police officers from whom they learnt various procedures such as making 999 calls and reporting emergencies.
NTC Kaliro student Nalugobe Evelyn appreciated the safety training, from which she learnt first aid administration and fire safety drills. Other students like Mwesigwa Isaiah said he learned the importance of vigilance. "This training has stressed the importance of paying attention to my surroundings. I now know that a tap or gas leakage can cause a fatal accident", he said.
Since then, the training has been extended to construction workers to equip them with OHS skills while at construction sites in NTC Mubende and Kabale for the next seven months. The colleges are also currently working with URENNO to develop emergency response plans.