Education experts have tasked universities and other institutions of higher learning to repurpose their courses to help the country reduce the high levels of unemployment in the country.
The experts said it is a paradox that a country well endowed with natural resources is still among the least developed and poorest countries in the world.
“Uganda is gifted by nature, endowed with resources, and good weather. How can it still be a Third-World country, least developed and so poor? It’s high time universities helped us address this question,” former Justice and Constitutional Affairs minister, Prof Ephraim Kamuntu, said during a prayer breakfast meeting for Bishop Stuart University in Mbarara City last Friday.
Prof Kamuntu, who is also a member of Bishop Stuart University Council, said most developed countries started as peasant and poor states but have transformed into industrialised and modern states, something that remains a challenge to Uganda.
“The purpose of any university is to develop the capacity of its students to think logically, objectively and rationally to solve problems. If a university falls short of these, then it has no purpose and it is misplaced. My appeal is that universities go back to their original purpose and help in averting growing unemployment in the country,” he said.
Employment Vs employability
The vice chancellor of Cavendish University, Prof John Mugisha, said universities should focus on both employment and employability of their students
“Most universities focus on employment and have completely neglected employability virtue. Whereas employment focuses on getting a job, employability is about having a combination of skills and attributes to work successfully in the required roles,” he said.
He said universities should craft a profile of skills and competencies so that graduates come out not only with technical and generic skills to deal with local problems but also get employed at the local level.
South Ankole Bishop Nathan Ahimbisibwe, who led the prayers, said some managers and supervisors entrusted with the responsibilities of making the world better have neglected their roles.
“As supervisors and managers of God’s people, we have to be careful; how are you doing your work? Are you living up to your responsibility and contributing to God’s purpose for mankind to live better lives?” he said.
The Chancellor of Bishop Stuart University, also Ankole Bishop Sheldon Mwesigwa, said: “As a university, we are committed to addressing community challenges, including unemployment through offering practical skills but limited funding is still a big problem. We appeal to the government to fund, especially private universities, in areas of research and innovation to be able to produce skilled graduates.”