“Our education focuses on theory rather than practice, job seekers rather than job creators and consumers rather than producers. We need to stop this for it will be crucial in addressing youth unemployment,”
Toro Kingdom and Uganda Industrial Research Institute (UIRI) have signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) that will see the latter establish a skills training and production centre in Kabarole district.
The Omukama of Toro, Oyo Kabamba Iguru, signed the MOU with the institute's executive director, Prof. Charles Kwesiga.
The event took place at UIRI's newly set up facility located in Kampala Business and Industrial Park, Namanve. The complex is exclusively for skills, value addition, innovation and production.
The MOU will also facilitate the establishment of a science and technology park to be named after King Oyo in Toro. "Education and youth employment have been affected by COVID-19.
But even before COVID-19, there was a problem of youth unemployment. However, innovation will be pivotal in the recovery of the country after the pandemic," Oyo said before signing the memorandum.
However, he expressed optimism that UIRI's facility in Namanve and its offshoot to be established in his kingdom would contribute to curing the mismatch between training and practical skills.
"Our education focuses on theory rather than practice, job seekers rather than job creators and consumers rather than producers. We need to stop this for it will be crucial in addressing youth unemployment," Oyo added. He urged the youth to take advantage of the existing opportunities to create wealth.
His vision for the kingdom, Oyo said, is rooted in efforts to better lives and prosperity through ending poverty and youth unemployment.
Ending youth unemployment, Oyo explained, will be achieved by unlocking their enormous potential and promoting agriculture and skills development, value addition, tourism, technology and strategic partnerships.
"I am grateful you accepted my request for an industrial and research centre and the science and technology industrial park in Toro. The youth need to be integrated into the production systems," he added.
Oyo later toured the institute's facility in Namanve and its main installation in Nakawa, on the outskirts of Kampala.
"There is a lot of dialogue going on and His Majesty's vision is in consonance with my views on development. We are going to move forward," Prof. Kwesiga said.
He said the Namanve facility was set up through a $30m grant from China. The grant was solicited by President Yoweri Museveni, who launched the facility on January 15.
Kwesiga noted that the facility was designed to develop a model machining manufacturing installation using modern technologies. It is also designed to produce marketable products and provide an apprenticeship platform for Ugandans. "We want to train people and give them hands-on skills. We shall even open it up to people who are already in the field but want to acquire certain skills.
Today, you will get a first-class engineering student, who does not know anything about manufacturing," he added. The facility, the professor said, will facilitate the realisation of the Government's import substitution and export promotion strategies.