By Luwemba Apuuli
Between January 28 and 31, Makerere University held its 64th graduation ceremony that saw the passing out of 12,616 graduates. Though graduation may perhaps calls for celebration, getting a degree is not an end in itself but is merely supposed to be a means to an end.
Unfortunately for most of us graduates a degree is an end in itself and literally implies getting everything from a good job, salary, fringe benefits, to the best car, at el. It is perhaps this sense of self-entitlement that has mentally handicapped graduates hence the high graduate unemployment levels. But to speak realistically, it’s not enntirely the graduates’ fault, it’s because we as a nation have perhaps misconceived the purpose of Education which is initially meant to “inculcate” into recipients certain values meant to “emancipate” their minds in order to facilitate creativity and improve analysis.
As a nation, we have over focused on the inculcation aspect and reduced it to a mere academic competition for sieving whose bright based on being able to gasp class knowledge. Our education can be defined as “going to school, getting good grades as a future guarantee for a good job and livelihood” – period. It’s such a mentality that defines most university graduates.
Like the Pharisees who in their bid to fulfill the Mosaic Law were accused by Jesus for “over focusing on trivial requirements like tithing while neglecting the weightier goals of the Law like justice, mercy and faith” (Mathew 23:23). We have also over focused on inculcating knowledge that we have even forgotten what this knowledge is meant for.
As a result, schools today are hell-bent on having their students get good grades, and have therefore abandoned not only preparing students for the real world but also embracing diverse abilities of students which are useful in life. It’s these students that emerge as graduates with little clue about the reality in the practical world; they normally have vague ideas and beliefs – of its all about education and good grades. Most graduates who lack exceptionally good grades normally emerge with low esteem and creativity as they are trapped in the “good grades theory”. So with no “exceptional papers” to backup their CVs, chances of getting jobs or progressing in life are assumed low hence the high redundantly unemployed graduate population in Uganda today.
Graduates with hope and chance of getting employed, normally dream and fancy working for among others institutions like Crane Bank, Diamond trust Bank, Mukwano industries, Uganda Baati, MTN, the Nation Group.But do graduates ever take time to tracewho the proprietors of these companies are; how they started; and hence the origins of these companies! – It is most probably not, because the mentality is a formal job after school.
It’s imperative we understand and appreciate some of the men behind many of these companies that we graduates fancy so much to work for – take for instance Sudhir Ruparelia, the proprietor of Ruparelia group of companies that include among others Crane bank, a secondary school dropout, Sudhir started in 1985 with capital of about US$25,000 and has over years been able to build an empire estimated at US$1.1 billion.I can’t forget to mention Ashish Thakkar,James Mulwana [RIP], Karim Hirji, Amos Wekesa, among so many. With the exception of a few like Patrick Bitature, the common trait that defines these men is that theyare literally Kikuubo graduates – who are highly practical, low level education graduates who directly employ many university graduates, directly or indirectly pay many of them, and largely determine the fate of the Country’s economy.
But the question is – Why these literally “uneducated” men run the economy and determine the fate of so many“educated” people? The answer largely lies in our education system and our misconception of what education really is and until we redefine what education really is, business men from Kikuubo will continue running the economy.
The writer is a social critique