By Conan Businge
A man willing to work, and unable to find work, is perhaps the saddest sight that fortune’s inequality exhibits under this sun once said a great revolutionist.
Uganda has just decided to take on a trend of churning out jobless youth every other year. Schools and institutions which include universities have always sent to the market jobless people. Obviously, this is rooted to the poor education system, much as there are other issues like bad legislations and inadequate investments.
Youth unemployment has been increasing over years. In 2005/06 7.8% of the youth were unemployed and figure went up to 10.1% by 2009/2010. Skilling of Ugandans is expected to bridge the gap of youth unemployment.
As Uganda continues to work towards universal primary and secondary education – it is expanding the pool of educated youth who will soon make unprecedented demands for higher education opportunities.
But the country’s education system has now taken another turn. Here comes ‘Skilling Uganda.’ these will be short courses for senior four leavers, school drop-outs and graduates, leading to the award of qualifications equivalent to those in formal system of education.
This implies that one can graduate to diploma, bachelors or Masters by attaining a systematic stage of qualifications in skills attainment under the revised education plan. There will be a special examination body to assess whoever will be attending these short courses. Learners will not be assessed on what they can do and not what they can recall as it is nowadays.
Government plans to hire temporary assessors to assess leaners under the revised system of education, build and renovate more institutions all over the country and hire more staff, for its effective implementation.
It will cost the Government about sh2trillions in a period of 10 years to have the new system of education implemented. It is projected that about 41,927 students will be admitted in various institutions by 2016/2017.
Cabinet has already agreed that telecommunication companies will pay sh1 on every call made towards a training levy’s fund. A Skills Development Authority to coordinate the public, private and informal sector in strengthening the new education system will be set up.
This will be an overhaul of the entire reliance on formal education for one to get an official internationally recognisable certificate, so that he or she can be hired. The Cabinet passed the resolution on skilling of Ugandans last week.
The new education system will be for short period courses, individualised, practical and flexible, compared to the current long term, credential based, full time, and rigidly structured system. All Senior Four leavers and those who dropped out will be enrolled at various levels in the new skills development system of education.
Graduates will also be accommodated. Seriously, if this implemented, it will make much more sense to this country.
The system will have certificates, diplomas and even degrees offered to such leaners without necessarily going through the formal education system.
The Ugandan education system follows a 7-4-2-3 pattern: seven years of primary education, followed by four years of lower secondary, two years of upper secondary, and a further three to five years of tertiary education.
In parallel, there exists a technical and vocational track. For primary seven leavers, they join a three-year technical and farm programmes in various institutions. Meanwhile, for secondary school leavers (especially at Senior Four), they are allowed to join three or four years of vocational and business education in other institutions.
There has always been a negative perception about business, technical, and vocational education and training, and low funding; a move that will change with the new system. But with the ‘Skilling Uganda’ programme, business and technical education will now be rebranded and will have a new and acceptable meaning; an issue which had been ignored.
As long as this new education system is not messed up, the country’s investment and economic future looks brighter. We just have to be optimistic and keep waiting.