Graduates to provide one-year free labour

What you need to know:

  • Proposal. The National Graduate Service Bill seeks to compel graduates from intuitions of higher learning to serve for a year before venturing into employment.


If Bunya County MP Waira Majegere succeeds in pushing through the National Graduate Service Bill 2016, every adult Ugandan of 18 years and above will have to offer compulsory one-year national service before being considered for any employment.

Parliament late Tuesday evening granted Mr Majegere leave to prepare the piece of legislation to establish a National Graduate Service Scheme where graduates from intuitions of higher learning will be compelled to serve for a year in the military, rural development, education, health or local government before venturing into employment.

Other sectors the proposed national service law will oblige Ugandans to serve in will include agriculture, cooperatives and youth programmes. The scheme will apply across both public and private sectors.

Of particular interest will be Clause 8 of the Bill, which states that “any person who has not commenced or completed his period of national service shall not obtain employment outside the scheme, be employed by any other person outside the scheme, be engaged in any other employment outside the scheme, whether self-employed or otherwise, without prior permission, in writing, of the Secretariat.”

Graduates who complete their higher education from outside Uganda shall also be compelled to undertake the one-year National Service upon return before engaging in any money-making venture.

The National Service Secretariat can, however, exempt any person whom the scheme applies to from compliance with provisions of the Act, or postpone the date which the person will be first engaged under the scheme.

Graduates under the scheme will be entitled to a stipend determined by the Finance ministry. Where a person completes education outside Uganda, they shall be liable to undertake the national service upon return to Uganda to gain eligibility for whatever form of employment.

For graduates employed in the public or public-private sectors, the concerned entity shall pay the stipend allowance while those in the private sector shall be paid by the Secretariat.

As a reward for national service, for graduates who successfully complete their one-year obligation and are later engaged in the Public Service, their period of national service shall count towards any probationary period to be served.

Making a case to be granted leave, Mr Majegere argued that the National Service will enhance domestic capacity building where all ministries, departments and agencies that get government contracts shall be obliged to take on the graduate students.

“There is a general view of the fact that education as it is imparted in schools, colleges and universities, leaves something to be desired and it is necessary to supplement it with programmes which would arouse interest and the social and economic reconstruction of the country,” Mr Majegere said.

Entities like ministries, departments and private-sector partnerships under the scheme will be required to employ 90 per cent Ugandan workforce. Supporters of the Bill say it will borrow lessons from countries like Ghana, Nigeria and India where National Service Schemes are in place.

Case of Ghana

The National Service Secretariat, a Ghanaian government agency, formulates policies and structures. In Ghana, all graduates from tertiary institutions must complete one-year national service.

Service personnel are paid monthly allowances determined by Finance ministry, starting from date of report for duty. Personnel posted to statutory boards, corporations and churches or quasi-church organisations are paid by those establishments.

All personnel are entitled to a month’s annual leave, usually in June of the year of service. Female service personnel may apply for three-month maternity leave, but serve three extra months on return to compensate for period of service lost.

Personnel who do not report after three months of being posted are considered to have evaded service, and appropriate sanctions applied. A service person that takes up posting but does not complete full period, without proper authorisation shall be declared deserter.

Candidates for national service may be exempted from service by the National Service Board on production of valid evidence of having undertaken National Service at an earlier date, or are 40 years old or more.

A service person shall be issued with a Certificate of National Service after successful completion of service.
An assessment signed by service person should be completed by the employer and sent to regional coordinator by the end of May each year. Source: Wikipedia