Our School System Is a Killer – Fagil Mandy

In a new report, the Uganda Bureau of Statistics (Ubos) and International Labour Organization (ILO) found that majority of Uganda’s youths are unemployment largely because the education system doesn’t equip them with requisite labour market skills.

The report, launched recently at Sheraton Kampala hotel, is titled ‘Labour market transitions of young women and men in Uganda.’ The study was conducted last year. The report notes that a weak and colonial education system and failure to make the agricultural sector attractive to youth are the main drivers of unemployment.

The report reveals that the education system doesn’t impart skills required for the changing labour market.

“The current education system produces graduates that lack the requisite work skills. It [education system] prioritizes numeracy over the development of skills that are required in the labour market,” the report partly reads.

This, the report notes, has created a mismatch in both demand and supply of labour. In fact, according to the report, 92 per cent of surveyed youth, said they did not feel the education system had provided them with the skills necessary to find a job. The report, therefore, recommends the need to align the education system with the labour market.

“The existing technical and vocational education and training centres need to be upgraded and their capacity enhanced to meet the demands of the growth sectors. Private sector development is hampered by the insufficient numbers of skilled youth,” the report said. Many young women and men, the report notes, are not benefiting fully from the educational system.

The report notes that the gradually improving macroeconomic performance of the country creates a conducive environment for job creation. Yet, far too many young Ugandans still struggle to find jobs. According to the report, 78 out of 100 youths interviewed in the survey didn’t attain secondary education.

A geographical comparison reveals that urban youths were almost three times more likely to attain education at secondary level or above than rural youth. Financial reasons, such as an inability to afford school fees or the need to earn an income, were given as the main reason for school dropouts in both urban and rural areas while a number of young women reported pregnancy as the main reason for stopping their education.

Training job seekers:

According to the report, what is surprising, the education system continues to train more job seekers than job creators and this will add to the already big unemployment numbers.

“It is unsurprising, therefore, that the majority of young students [64 per cent] hoped to work as professionals in the future, presumably in services and only 22 per cent hoped to start their own businesses. The report noted that this is a problem, because the public sector will not have the capacity to absorb many of the emerging graduates.

“If more studying youth were given this message early enough, perhaps they and their families could be more easily convinced of the utility of following the vocational training route,” the report notes.

Weighing in on the report, Rosemary Ssenabulya, the executive director of Federation of Uganda Employers, said many Ugandans come out of universities without employable skills and employers spend time and resources polishing employee’s skills.

“Reading the report, it is clear majority of students want to work in public service and therefore want to be employed, which means these will definitely be job seekers but we need more job creators,” she said. “We need to focus and increase investment not just in education but vocation education and training.”

Fagil Mandy, an educationalist and former Uneb chairman, said Uganda’s education system is misdirected. “Our school system is a killer. At all levels, primary, secondary and even university, it doesn’t make students creative,” he said.

He called for an overhaul of the education curriculum and the need to make education practical and not theoretical.

“We should relate whatever we teach to real life experience and have targeted competencies at every level of education,” he said.

Source : The Observer

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