Wednesday March 12 2014

We should plan for all students

At least 137,104 students have missed direct admission into government-aided schools. This year’s figure is more than 47 per cent higher than the 83,014 who missed admission last year. This points to a challenge that needs to be addressed before the situation gets out of hand.

Following the closure of the two-day selection exercise in Kampala recently, Mr Francis Agula, the commissioner Secondary Education, said the government could only admit 124,334 students in its 1,147 institutions, including secondary schools to implement free A-Level, non-free A- Level, primary teachers college and business, technical vocational institutions that took part in the exercise.

Much as the explanations are valid, the worry is whether those who missed out will eventually be appropriately placed in the right institutions. We ought to appreciate that if poor and inappropriate choices are made at this level, there is often a high likelihood of losing valuable human capital along the way.

Ensuring that there is appropriate placement for the more than 137,000 is critical to ensuring that we further develop and optimise that human capital that is available to us as a country. With a considerable number of those who missed out destined for vocational institutions, we need to appreciate that vocational education system could hugely prepare students to gain employment in the Small and Medium Enterprises sector.

Having the right skills in the right place and at the right time is essential in the labour markets to operate effectively and this eases unemployment bottlenecks. However, the government should also increase funding for vocational and technical education if they are to attract more students and appropriately cope with the rising numbers.

Still, parents need to play a part by encouraging their children to take on vocational education opportunities as this will increase their involvement in the society and save them from futile job-hunting experiences.
Failure to pay adequate attention to those who missed out could add to the high number of socially excluded Ugandans who are unable to do anything to spur the country’s investment and economic growth.

Therefore, the Education ministry and all stakeholders ought to appreciate that providing the right skills and literacy levels to those who missed out, could help our country yield significant economic gains.