Why there are many educated unemployed youth in Uganda

EDUCATION, what is it and how do the educated use their education? These are some of the questions that the research and advocacy project “Challenging Categories: educated unemployed youth as institutional innovators” presumably will interrogate.

Already, the challenging categories project has sparked consciousness that education is not really a neutral term. It is quite possible that there are as many interpretations of the meaning of education as there are the educated.

Mr. Rama Omonya giving a speech during the Challenging Categories project launch ceremony at the CPAR Uganda Lira Learning Centre on 17th April 2021.

Certainly, one of the resource persons, Mr. Rama Omonya, who has been invited to be among the policy working group for the challenging categories project, has already generated lively debate in reaction to his assertions, which he made during the formal launch of the project, on 17th April 2021, at the CPAR Uganda Lira Learning Centre.

As reported by a Radio Wa Journalist:

“Mr. Rama Omonya, a policy advocate says many young people are always left stranded after completing university, because they don’t want to get up and do things for themselves.”

Ms. Winnie Auma, Radio Wa Journalist

One commentator on on Facebook, for example, wrote:

“He (Mr. Omonya) doesn’t know what he is talking about.”

Comment on Facebook

Mr. Jimmy Ezra Okello, is a university graduate and one of the young adults from disadvantaged backgrounds who us under the CPAR Uganda mentoring programme. The picture was taken at Amugu Trading Centre, at a roving market, where Mr. Okello was vending shoes.

In response, Mr. Omonya contextualised his assertion thus:

“We had just watched a documentary of university graduates doing things like plaiting hair and opening a saloon, selling second hand clothes etc. These ones here (on Facebook) yapping are holding a smart phone of 800k but cry there is no capital. Let them yap on social media. Their fellows are working!”

Mr. Rama Omonya

Clearly, Mr. Omonya and several commentators on Facebook have different understandings or perceptions, if you will, of what education is and what it is meant for. Mr. Omonya’s perception is certainly different from that of another commentator who wrote:

“In Uganda they ask those with education knowledge to do anything, whether it means cutting your mother’s head and selling it for a penny, do it. You finish university and you end up riding boda boda or selling ‘rolex’ or selling charcoal, etc.”

Comment on Facebook

The same commentator provided insight into what they perceive are the jobs an educated person should engage in. They wrote:

“They call this (university graduates riding boda boda, selling ‘rolex’, selling charcoal, etc.) job creation, while for them their children they hold good jobs in both government and private companies. The rest go to hell.”

Comment on Facebook

Dr. Ben Jones (left) the Challenging Categories Principal Investigator together with Dr. Laury Lawrence Ocen the Project Co-Investigator, at the Lira Learning Centre on 18th April 2021, the day after the project launch.

The research findings for the ongoing challenging categories project (April 2021 to December 2022), which is being implemented in partnership by CPAR Uganda, Lira University and the University of East Anglia, with funding from The British Academy under the British Government’s Global Challenges Research Fund, should be interesting.

While we ponder what the commentator meant by “good jobs in government and private companies” and as we wait for the challenging categories research findings, in the meantime, let us join the debate.

  • What is education?
  • What jobs should and educated person be expected to do?
  • What jobs are the educated in Uganda doing?

Photos credit: All photos herein were taken by Emmanuel Owaraga as part of the team of the Project Media Consultant, Mr. Philip Luswata.

2 responses to “Why there are many educated unemployed youth in Uganda”

  1. According to me , education should be merged with talents of learners , lots of talents are not utilized in many areas .we should discover talents if learners and nature them to become better in those talents.Parents in the other hands give much pressure to their children and usually dictate in which course, combination a child should do .”I will pay your tuition only if you do sciences combination, course “, ignoring own interests of learners. What if decisions as such are not preditermined nor dictated up .?

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Education should have been combined with hands-on mentoring and coaching in the direction a learner sees her/himself as either a job creator or seeker.

    Liked by 1 person

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