Critics of Uganda’s ‘unemployable graduates’ are only aiming blows at wrong targets


I have heard Ugandan men and women debate. And so candidly about the country’s education sector. In most of the ranting, there have always been enormous criticisms of Ugandan graduates. The most commonly highlighted one is the lackluster of skills in them.

What surprises me is that some of the people who attend these radio or television debates, then proffer such submissions have themselves been part and parcel of the making of these Uganda education curricula at all levels of the education system.

It is some of them who deliberated thought it; fit for Universities to delve on theories than practical. It is some of them who raised hands to support the primary and secondary schools flood like subjects offered by pupils and students respectively.

When apportioning blame to these students, the senior country men should take responsibility that they were the foundation of education quality failure in Uganda. There is a misinterpretation of some words as the country’s political and policy commentators usually use. Majority have slumped back in there seats and comfortably said, “The system of education in Uganda is the problem why Uganda’s students can not internationally be regarded”.

That is an uninformed submission. What these men should know is that when we talk about a system of education, it means a process from kindergarten to primary, secondary school then finally to University. This is not the problem of Uganda’s education. The problem that strives to haunt Uganda’s education over the decade since Independence has been the content our pupils, students and university students are given to cram rather than understand.

In my view, it is when the content bequeathed to students is amended, that Uganda will live to see the productivity of its graduates. The problem needs to be tackled right from the bottom stage of our education system which is a standard one.
The education specialists should brainstorm and forge a way forward in order to better our education. Having a mass of subjects to be studied never makes one an expert, it rather promotes ideological mediocrity.

If students are taught specific subjects of their abilities and interests right from senior one, these students will first of all know who and what they want to be. These will automatically lead them to be pundits in their choice of career.
I have also heard these same people on their radio and television talk shows speak so enthusiastically with unfathomable interest filled with national pride. They argue that Uganda’s education content is good if not better than her East African neighbors and that is why the Kenyan and Tanzanian students, recently joined by their South Sudan counter parts flock the country from all corners.

But I think this is a misguided thinking. Analyzing this situation in detail brings some facts on board. Little have these folks known that Uganda’s education is cheaper than one in Kenya. Little have these patriots (usually NRM die- hard) realized that South Sudan is still grappling with political unrest with poorly developed systems of government.

Of course this does not come as a surprise. The oil rich state has recently got Independence and it is in a process of stability. So the top brass in the ruling National Resistance Movement (NRM) who profit from showering President Yoweri Museveni with praises of how the free Universal Primary Education (UPE) and USE programs are working yet they take their children to international schools should face and tell the reality on the ground.
During the time of Metternich, influencing the education policy was a dictatorial maneuver. Is this a move by the NRM to keep masses submissive?

Micheal Ojula is a contributing Editor of East Africa Daily based in Kampala Uganda