SEMA is a social enterprise geared towards the citizen-centred improvement of public services. With this goal in mind, SEMA has developed a system of citizen feedback through which citizens rate the experiences they have had at public offices. As SEMA we currently have 3 modes of data collection, which are the use of the SEMA feedback device, in-person interviews and the Toll-Free line. The SEMA feedback device is a 5 point rating system using familiar face emojis depicting emotions from very good to very bad. The toll-free line at SEMA is always open to comments, queries and issues that arise in areas where there may not be direct access to a SEMA official, with it we encourage everyone to simply call and a friendly voice on the other end will ensure the issue is handled. 

How then would we collect this data in order to gauge citizen feedback on service delivery at Public service institutions? We decided to have trainees join our team to aid this data collection process. The program began in 2018 with just 8 trainees, the Trainees that were already engaged in the SEMA data collection program were tasked with carrying out in-person interviews at the various SEMA data points within the city, by then we were dealing with majorly the Police stations around Kampala, the trainees would engage citizens and some of the Institution staff to complete a questionnaires’ target to a specific data set.

SEMA decided that we could actually equip the trainees with more than just filling questionnaire answers without asking unscripted questions. It was on this basis that SEMA birthed the TRAINEESHIP PROGRAM. The program was developed mainly to aid volunteer training not just on data collection, but also to help the volunteers understand various communication from SEMA to the Public institutions and to the citizens alike. At SEMA, we maintain that we are not just teaching data collection to our volunteers but we aim to equip our trainees with communication skills and create vital competencies to survive out in the job market and this has seen the Trainee Program running for the past 3 years, and it’s only growing bigger and better.

The SEMA traineeship program consists of a 9 months training period broken down into two phases the first phase is  3 months which consists of exclusive data collection and phase 2 which has both data collection and departmental training. The training period is divided into two phases. The first 3 months of the program, where we introduce the trainees to the SEMA culture and program, we then initiate them into the field for data collection, we train them on basic research skills that include, data collection and entry, fieldwork, carrying our research and interviewing the citizens and the institution’s representatives.

After this first phase, we trust that the trainees have been exposed to the different functions of each department under the SEMA umbrella, through all the activities that they have been engaged in while in the field. For phase 2, the trainees are allowed to then choose a department they can best identify with and wish to learn from in regards to their training. SEMA offers a variety of departmental options including Operations, Data Collection, Communications, Design and Graphics, Finance and Technology; which allow trainees to test their skills, career interests and passions in any field of their choice. And with the vast knowledge the SEMA core team has to offer, we pride ourselves in the fact that we can have an influential effect on the trainees’ competitive abilities in the actual job market.

After a full cycle course of 9 months at the SEMA traineeship program, the program is wrapped up in a colourful and lovely certification ceremony where we recognize the trainees’ efforts and can successfully award them certificates for the basic skills attained during the program. We consider various important steps to attain this certification and ensure that every awarded trainee has fully attended the training and has passed all assignments and tests as per departmental requirements.

What then, does the future look like for the program?

The SEMA traineeship program has only just begun, with the previous numbers rising consistently every single year. The traineeship program can now boast of a 63 member strong program under Cohort 5, which is our largest number of trainees as yet, and a cumulative number of 115 trainees over the past 4 years. The program team is currently working on a sustainability function to push the program over the next 1000 years. Yes, 1000 years. With this in mind, we are currently working with some of the SEMA partners to promote this program. We are happy to join with partners that share a common platform for data collection, statistics, data analysis and data factual reporting to effect change for any aspect of citizen functionality. We hope to increase our scope of training past the current departments into related fields such as Cyber Security, Information security, Research data and the like. We hope to team up with research partners all over Uganda as SEMA is already functional in 4 regions of the country. With a team-up like this, partners can provide additional training incorporated into the syllabus in key data areas, this we believe will create the need to have certified credentials for the trainees making the SEMA traineeship program a well sought after program, this will not only allow for the Trainees from SEMA to present certified and recognizable credentials to employers but provide highly satisfactory results to any data project.

The SEMA traineeship program will not only stop at training but will focus its developments on creating an Academy. As a social impact enterprise, SEMA is driven by the need to positively impact the social functioning of any society involved. An academy will not only mean a centralized education and training system but it will also mean a standardized curriculum approved by a higher education system.

The SEMA Traineeship program will have to create a sustainability position, with the aid of major donor funding for research, analysis and operation, this dream can be realized. The aim is that with funding for this program, we hope the research and analysis findings will highly impact social change in difficult public service Institutions in Uganda; aiding various Public service Institutions to adjust service delivery to accountable standards in Uganda.

The Traineeship program is a call to more students to join the program to increase the data collection canvas area in Uganda. We believe there is so much untapped data that can highlight some of the social shortcomings in the country; that hopefully can answer the various questions raised by citizens and public institutions towards improved service delivery.

The program is currently underway with 63 trainees in the 2022 program lasting till July. We hope that if you are out there and are interested in creating change in your society; with a passion for data collection analysis, design and implementation, you will contact the SEMA team or visit our website right here.

We can’t wait to have you join the SEMA traineeship program. 

Written by:

Ekakoro Christine

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