On advanced education in Africa

What you need to know:

The fresh and sweet-looking pictures of graduates making rounds in the media has received holy envy from those that have walked through the gates of Makerere

The weeks behind us have been unprecedented at the largest and premier University in Uganda. Makerere University has had a record number of PhD graduates.

The fresh and sweet-looking pictures of graduates making rounds in the media has received holy envy from those that have walked through the gates of Makerere.

The relatively large number of PhD graduates has attracted both uninformed and informed opinions, with the former littering many media pages and airtime, and I wished not to add my voice on it.

Media topics such as the “Role of education in the context of Uganda” are resurrected and “experts” are invited to talk shows to give their opinions about the quality of education. Assuredly, you shall come across such topics in the media in the week after graduation. Such topics are age old and there seems to be no conclusive answers to them.

Education in Uganda has come from afar and we must appreciate the achievements of the government of Uganda and her development partners and also criticise where due.

A deep analysis of the different variables that affect the quality of education in Uganda can better inform the situation at hand than being informed by snapshots of a smaller time window.

An analysis on the quality of education is not an A-to-B kind of analysis. It is a complex one that sits in a highly sophisticated system that requires a deep system of thinking to appreciate a little about the quality of education. There are many knobs that need to be tuned. Many of which shall never be touched, not to mention seeing them in the near future. It can be quick to poke holes in the academic achievements of our national institutions and never pause to realize how many balls are in the air for these institutions to catch.

The question of whether PhDs are still relevant is uniformed and should be swapped with better questions; “How best can these brains be utilized to advance economy of Uganda, the region and the world?”, “How can these study results be applied to drive the socio-economical state of the country?” or “which problems should be researched by the scholars to give informed decisions to the government?”

The nations that have gone ahead of us realised the weighty value of advanced education and invested all their pennies in such. ‘Opinionists’ ought, if they ever wish, ask relevant questions before darting their opinions on any happenings that come to the scene. It is fatal, if at all we are lucky, to un-skeptically accept such conclusions that only consider the tip of the iceberg.

I have intentionally refrained from giving my opinion on that matter given the fact I hold no intellectual authority to question the essence of advanced education, though I feel the temptation to say a little about it. Advanced education is the way to go if we, as a nation, are to achieve development in the current information age where deep research is conducted to roll out technologies that are mind blowing.

The big dogs in the tech industry heavily and unreservedly invest funds to run in-house R&Ds. These are strictly operated by PhDed-staff that think and produce at light-speed.

How can we (read Africa) favorably compete against or cooperate with countries that have gone ahead of us in the information age? Remove Advanced Education from whichever answer you propose and Africa is headed down a chronic lane of aid, poverty and insecurity.

Peace and Grace.

Steven Kakaire,