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NCHE, MAK to profile course worthiness in universities

By Daphrose Byiringiro

Added 12th February 2020 03:10 PM

This will, at the end of the project, see some of the courses scrapped off from the universities' curriculum for their inability to ensure the graduate transition to the labour market.

NCHE, MAK to profile course worthiness in universities

This will, at the end of the project, see some of the courses scrapped off from the universities' curriculum for their inability to ensure the graduate transition to the labour market.

EMPLOYMENT     EDUCATION

KAMPALA - Last week, a group of graduates took to the streets with placards written in bold ‘What Next'. These students possibly stranded with their good degrees but no jobs are wondering what they should do next.

Now, the National Council for Higher Education (NCHE) and the Makerere University East African School of Higher Education Studies and Development are partnering in a project to map and profile the worthiness of university courses in creating employable students.

This will, at the end of the project, see some of the courses scrapped off from the universities' curriculum for their inability to ensure the graduate transition to the labour market.

The project titled ‘Pedagogical Leadership for Academic Staff in Higher Education Institutions to Enhance Graduate Work Readiness and Transition to Work (PLASHE-WIL)' sets out to bridge the gap between the employers, graduates and teaching staff in institutions of higher learning.

The project will first be launched at Makerere University before it can be scaled to other institutions of higher learning.

The project is being funded by the government of Uganda through the Makerere University Research and Innovations Fund to a tune of sh30bn.

During a consultative meeting held at NCHE headquarters in Kyambogo on Tuesday, Ronald Bisaso the project principal investigator noted that they are going to map and profile different programmes at universities, looking at course units to see whether they contribute to training graduates who are work-ready.

"We want to do a bit of curriculum mapping. We need a conversation around curriculum mapping so that we can know the extent of similarity, the extent of the difference and the extent of focusing on clichés," he said.

Dr. Pius Coxwell Achanga, the head institutional and programme accreditation at NCHE, noted that graduate employability has become crucial in the country, therefore, they want to be part of the solution in reducing the unemployment gap which now stands at 65%.

The project will also look at the competence of academic staff as regards to their teaching method and how it contributes to graduate employability.

Bisaso noted that about 50% of the teaching staff, as per the survey carried out on early career guidance in sub-Saharan Africa,  have never gotten training in teaching or any other form of support.

"These early-career guiders were teaching the way they were taught by their professors. We want to first understand the philosophy of those who teach their practices and competencies. You see, you can change the curriculum but if the one who delivers it is not changed then you will be moving around the same circle," he stated.

Bisaso noted that this will help them to come up with a training manual or handbook that will help develop the teaching capacity to facilitate the graduate transition to the world of work and align training in higher institutions to the labor market.

The project will also study the higher institution curriculum, looking at the internship programmes, the graduate aspirations and why even after the internship, they still become unemployed.

Dr. Rovincer Najjuma, a senior lecturer at Makerere University noted addressing the graduate unemployment gap is crucial since unemployment not only has a negative impact on a graduate but also on the economy and the future of higher education

She called for the need to create clear career pathways for graduates and urged institutions to explore the new trends in the job markets such as the borderless labor market and the growing performing arts industry to guide their students.

The meeting brought together academics, employers, students, policymakers, government officials and researchers.

Allan Ssenyondo, manager policy, and advocacy at Uganda Manufacturers Association (UMA) noted that employers are no longer interested in good degrees but rather soft skills and one's willingness to lifelong learning.

He also noted the need for lecturers to leave the classrooms and create rapport with employers to see the job market needs and tailor his teaching to meet these needs.

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