Despite affirmative action by the government of Uganda to empower Uganda’s youth, such as the constitutional allotting of four slots in Parliament and even some slots in the district local government councils, the lot of the youth in Uganda has for decades not improved much.
Uganda’s youth are currently the most affected segment of the population in terms of vulnerability to unemployment, economic stagnation and poverty.
A major part of the problems affecting Uganda’s youth today originate from the fact that the education system in Uganda does not add much value to Uganda’s youth by way of imparting employable and entrepreneurial skills to the youth.
It is frustrating that emphasis is put on a rather archaic model of learning from the past 19th and 20th century in which young learners are taught to memorize irrelevant information that is utterly useless in equipping them in tackling the challenges of life. I regret that I, like many others in Uganda today, are lifelong victims of this bogus system of education. Of what use is it in facing life challenges to memorise that the first European to walk at the source of the river Nile was John Speke?
How will memorising the capital cities of the countries of the world and their leaders, be able to secure me a job after High School?
Wouldn’t I rather learn about the available herbs in my community and the different diseases they can prevent or cure so that I am at least informed and equipped on the principles and practices of local preventive healthcare.
Wouldn’t I rather spend some time doing community work, improving community access roads and clean water sources like wells?
This is the time that the government should recognise youth unemployment for what it is- a deadly time bomb. And create a national school curriculum that emphasizes the creation of local problem solvers, solution providers and job creators.
And so create a skillful and productive youth workforce who are able to add value to the economy, to the country and to its people. An “Arab Spring’ may not happen in Uganda but by keeping the youth idle and unskilled, we risk an increase in the number of thieves and armed robbers in our communities.
And a pool of young people from whom insurgent groups like the Allied Democratic Front ADF can easily recruit.
In sum, the government should help equip young people by prioritising technical and vocational education and training. Learning technical skills and craftsmanship through apprenticeship should be recognized and upgraded in the education system. It should be studied at certificate, diploma, degree, masters and PhD levels.
Essentially, more than 12 percent of the national budget should be allocated to technical and vocational training sector annually, if we are interested in empowering our young people.
Joseph Jojo Kwizera, NUP Political Activist