HAKIM KYESWA; How reimagining education can combat unemployment and foster entrepreneurship in youths

Education is a crucial aspect of the development and progress of a nation. It equips individuals with knowledge, skills, and values that are essential for their personal growth and the growth of their communities. In Uganda, education has been recognized as a key foundation for achieving sustained economic growth, social progress, and stability.

However, the current education system in Uganda has been highly criticized for its inability to prepare students for the job market, resulting in high levels of unemployment among the youth.

One of the major challenges of the education system in Uganda is the focus on academic achievement rather than practical skills. The system is structured in a way that puts more emphasis on grades and passing exams rather than equipping students with hands-on skills that are relevant to the job market. According to a report by the World Bank, 70% of students in Uganda complete their primary education without acquiring basic skills in reading, writing, and arithmetic. This lack of focus on skills at the primary level has a ripple effect on students’ performance in secondary and tertiary education, leaving them unprepared for the job market.

Furthermore, the curriculum in Uganda is heavily theoretical, with students required to study a wide range of subjects – up to 10 in some cases – at the O level. While some of these subjects may be relevant to students’ future careers, others are not and end up being a burden to the learners. This has been a major concern for parents, who often have to bear the financial burden of paying for tuition and other school expenses. For students from low-income families, this becomes a major barrier to accessing education and ultimately, limits their chances of securing employment after school.

In contrast, countries like China have adopted an education system where students only focus on skills from a young age. Students in China are taught technical skills such as coding, engineering, and robotics, to name a few. This has resulted in a highly skilled workforce that can fill the demands of the job market. The Chinese education system also encourages entrepreneurship and innovation, leading to the creation of job opportunities and economic growth. Uganda could learn a lot from China’s approach to education, especially at a time when the job market is highly competitive, and there are limited opportunities for formal employment.

Another aspect that contributes to the ineffectiveness of the education system in Uganda is the lack of practical and vocational training opportunities. Due to the emphasis on academic achievement, vocational and technical courses are often perceived as less prestigious and less attractive to students and their parents. This results in a shortage of skilled workers in key sectors such as manufacturing and construction, despite the high demand for such skills in the job market.

The government of Uganda should invest more in vocational training and promote its value to students and the community at large. This will not only bridge the skills gap but also create a more balanced education system that caters to the needs of all learners.

It is also worth noting that the education system in Uganda faces numerous challenges, including inadequate funding, lack of infrastructure, and teacher shortages. While efforts have been made by the government to address these issues, more needs to be done to provide quality education to all Ugandans. This includes increasing the education budget, improving the quality of teacher training, and investing in infrastructure and technology to facilitate effective learning.

In conclusion, the education system in Uganda needs to be reformed to better prepare students for the job market and promote economic growth. This can be achieved by shifting the focus from academic achievement to practical skills, providing vocational training opportunities, and addressing the challenges facing the education sector.

It is also essential for the government and other stakeholders to work together to create an enabling environment for students to acquire the necessary skills and knowledge to create jobs and contribute to the development of the nation. Only then can we see a significant reduction in the number of unemployed youth in Uganda.

The writer; Hakim Kyeswa is a media analyst at the Office of the National Chairman of the National Resistance Movement (NRM) in Kyambogo. Email: hakimkim255@gmail.com. WhatsApp: +256762969420