Uganda is educating more people than can be absorbed by the economy at the current economic development level, says Deputy Governor Bank of Uganda Dr Louis Kasekende.
By educating people who cannot get jobs, Dr Kasekende says the government is wasting resources on higher education sector which he described as "ill-suited for Uganda's development."
He made the remarks yesterday while speaking at a dialogue on the link between higher education and national development in Uganda, organised by Makerere University Visitation Committee. The dialogue was held at the Office of the President.
Dr Kasekende noted that the excessive numbers of students in higher education and the very low entry standards have degraded the quality of universities' output which is too large for the needs of the economy.
A total of 180,000 students were enrolled in universities in Uganda, while another 69,000 were in other institutions of higher learning, according to the 2014 national census.
Dr Kasekende noted that the bracket supposed to be studying higher education, those between 20 and 24 years, was close to 3.2 million according to the same census which means that only 9.4 percent of the age bracket is joining university.
Between 2002 and 2014, he said higher education enrolment was growing at an annual rate of 10 percent compared to 3.3 percent population growth rate. In the labour market he said, only 0.5 percent of professionals are employed while only 2.6 percent of technicians and associate professionals of the working population are employed.
This, according to Dr Kasekende indicates that less than one in four graduates are getting jobs in the labour market.
"Too many people receive education given demands of the labour market both currently and in the future. If you look at the demands of the market, we have many graduates without jobs," he said.
The deputy central bank governor argues that the key contribution which the education system can make towards economic development is to provide young people with education and vocational skills which the economy will need when they enter work force.
If the supply of labour can't meet demand, he said firms that need that labour will be deterred from investing and expanding hence affecting growth and development.
Dr Kasekende stated that the viability of financing education depends on the contribution which the educated people will make to the economy once they enter the labour market and that "when you can have a viable and sustainable financing model of education."
He argued that it is higher productivity from graduates which results in higher economic output that "generate resources to enable the cost of education to be recouped."
Makerere University visitation committee chairperson Dr Abel Rwendeire said the dialogue is meant to provide a platform to discuss links between higher education and national development in Uganda with particular reference to Makerere.
He said there is need for key higher education stakeholders to build a consensus on how universities can prepare graduates with relevant skills.