Taking children education beyond the classroom
By Barbara Kasekende
Every parent wants the best for their child’s future. But with the rate of youth unemployment, there is definitely cause for concern. Our universities churn out tens of thousands of graduates every year, but where are the jobs? And we haven’t even considered those that dropped out along the way!
According to the State of Uganda Population report 2018, slightly over 18 million people fall within the productive age bracket of 14 and 64 years. With 58pc of this demographic unemployed, Uganda’s total non-utilized labour potential is about 10.4 million. The same report also shows that another 1.2 million young people between 14 and 29 are idle.
In spite of the government’s efforts at creating employment through promoting industrialization and gainful agriculture, as well as initiatives such as Operation Wealth Creation, widespread unemployment remains a huge policy challenge. The reality is a good education is no longer a guarantee for employment. This means today’s parents have to think outside the box if they are to ensure a more secure future for their children.
My work with the Stanbic National Schools Championship project has opened my eyes to the reality on ground in our secondary schools. This project aims to empower the job creators of tomorrow by equipping them with life skills, financial literacy and the basics of entrepreneurship. Students are encouraged to identify a problem at their school then come up with a solution that also benefits their community as a whole. Ironically, the challenge we face, especially in our mainstream schools, is students cannot fully participate because of their parents.
Often times, parents may think extracurricular activities are a waste of time and assume that their children should only concentrate on scoring good grades. Some school administrations will also tell you, the board (which also includes parents) insist on less time for skilling activities and more time on improving the grades. We have visited schools that have morning and night preps, including studying over the weekends. During the holidays, parents will even take their children for holiday study classes. At one point, one has to ask whether this is not over kill.
On average, only 13,000 jobs are available for the 400,000 plus students that graduate from the tertiary system every year. Paradoxically, employers expect job applicants to have some working experience! How can learners acquire practical skills when they are always told that grades are the most important thing? On the other hand, having a useful skill can provide them with the basis to become job creators and make a living.
But it starts with parents! A secondary school child is not too young to start learning a practical skill that can earn them an income. By the time they reach university it would be too late! Our duty is to guide and motivate our children to be self-sustaining and enterprising in a world that has become increasingly competitive. Being creative and innovative is the fast way to success. Begin by teaching them to appreciate the value of money and what is involved in earning it.
More important is teaching them the rewards that come from investing it well, including the discipline to save for the future. Financial experts say being good with money is an important trait of most successful business leaders.
Parents should not just give pocket money for the sake of it. Have your child learn how to invest their money, perhaps in a school investment club or be a part of a small business venture. Let us as parents, instill a working culture that can help to diminish those tendencies that promote corruption.
Allow your children to breathe! A school environment should help them do that if it also thinks beyond the attainment of grades. Imagine what can be achieved when we empower our children in the right way to drive this economy into the future.
Barbara Kasekende is the Head of Corporate Social Investment at Stanbic Bank Uganda