Troubled with the brunt of unemployment faced by many graduates, universities in East Africa have adopted a new strategy aimed at preparing undergraduates with adequate skills to enable them compete favourably in the job market.
Titled Transforming Employability for Social Change in East Africa (Tescea), the project is being implemented by four universities from East Africa. These are Gulu University and Uganda Martyrs University, Nkozi, in Uganda, and University of Dodoma, and Mzumbe University in Tanzania.
Other partners in the project are Association for Faculty Enrichment in Learning and Teaching, Linking Industry With Academia Programme and Ashoka East Africa, all in Kenya.
The four-year project is being funded by the UK Aid, and it is meant to support universities, industries, countries and government to work together to create a learning experience for students that produce employability and creative graduates.
During a recent workshop, Prof Micheal Mawa, the deputy vice-chancellor of Nkozi university, told education experts to review the Tescea training model in Kampala, adding that Uganda’s graduates are currently grappling with unemployment because they lack basic skills for the job market.
“A 2014 survey by the Inter-University Council for East Africa found out that Uganda has the worst record of skills gap, with at least 63 per cent of graduates found to lack job market skills,’ he said.
Prof Mawa explained that it was upon such glaring findings that Tescea was introduced to mitigate training of half-baked students in East African Universities.
This comes hot on the heels of seething criticism by experts on the country’s education curriculum, which they say, is theory-oriented, not skills-oriented hence it makes it hard for graduates to compete on the job market.
Prof Mawa also admitted the fact that the method of teaching in higher institutions of learning has to change and equip learners with skills-oriented material to enable them transform society when they graduate.
Active involvement of stakeholders
To train students for a better job market, he said stakeholders should contribute in graduate training through curriculum development and review, offering opportunities for students and staff placement for practical experience and development of real life cases for teaching and learning.
Prof Koi Muchira Tirima from LIWA Trust, one of the implementers of the project said that Tescea will help young people in Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda to use their skills and ideas to tackle social and economic problems.
“It will support universities to prepare graduates to secure employment, act entrepreneurially to create their own jobs, or meet community needs as social entrepreneurs. It will also develop a scalable model that can assist other universities in the future,” Prof Koi said.