On Tuesday, January 17, 2012, the Daily Monitor, reported “11,000 graduate to 83% joblessness”.
The headline was striking. It carried two interesting figures which equally presented double emotions. That 11,000 were walking away with degrees and diplomas, given the country’s literacy levels was a great thing. But that they were walking into a dark world staring at them with a grotesque face of a double-digit unemployment percentage was never going to be pleasant. That is the sad reality that Ugandan youth find themselves in.
“Most of us don’t have rich parents to take us to their offices to work as their assistants so we don’t know when we will get jobs,” the Daily Monitor quoted Zaidi Tebazaalwa, who graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Zoology saying. He hoped to work as a research assistant for his first job.
Just prior to that graduation, the Africa Development Indicators report released by the World Bank placed youth unemployment in Uganda at 83 per cent.
This indicated that Uganda by 2011 had the highest unemployment rate among the young men in Africa although a study, “Lost opportunity? Gaps in youth policy and programming in Uganda”, published by ActionAid put youth unemployment rate at 62 per cent.
Presiding over the graduation, Makerere University Chancellor, Prof Mondo Kagonyera, asked President Museveni to “provide a special desk to help keep on the lookout for and coordinate the funding of students’ innovations”.
Uganda has the world’s largest percentage of people under 30 – 78 per cent – according to the to the 2012 State of Uganda population report by the UN Population Fund.
These figures present a rather gloomy atmosphere with at least 400,000 youth graduating each year yet projects registered by the Uganda Investment Authority indicate a potential to create only 150,000 jobs annually, leaving an estimated 350,000 on the street.
Photo by Abubaker Lubowa
So why is it the case? Why would a block of more than 350,000 men and women who have studied for more than 15 years remain on the streets after all?
Photo by Abubaker Lubowa
Mr Patrick Kaboyo, an educationist and chief executive Coalition of Uganda Private Schools Teachers Association, says all Ugandans should be rallied to discuss the education status quo.
He says Ugandans should be asked what is relevant to the prevailing conditions such that the curriculum matches the people’s needs. For perspective, curriculum is the total sum of all the experiences that a learner undergoes, whether they are taught in class or outside the classroom environment.
“As long as the status quo remains unchanged, we shall not see much. The current curriculum has served its purpose. It is a high time we overhauled it in order to address the challenges of the common man. The curriculum is not giving the learners the right information,” Mr Kaboyo says.
He adds: “The trend in the current curriculum is that the bright ones proceed to A-Level and subsequently to university yet the relatively slow ones are the ones who are relegated to technical institutions. So we do not get the right people to do actual building, carpentry etc.”
The educationist suggests that for the country to realise better results, there should be talent identification and tapping of skills right from primary level and the learners are accorded the right support.