As a person who has been in the education system, as a teacher for many years, the biggest challenge that we have is our university education is so theoretical. You find that training and education at a lower level might give more practical skills to people than at a higher level.

Increasingly, our focus should be to give practical education in a way that gives practical skills to the people who we are educating. We should do so hands-on. Certainly, issues of income generation should be considered very seriously in our education system, for example.

These ten young adults (mostly unemployed university graduates from disadvantaged backgrounds) who are under the mentorship of Ms. Norah Owaraga, CPAR Uganda Managing Director, under our project: “Mentoring Young Adults into Innovators Against Poverty” will directly participate in our newly launched research and advocacy project: “Challenging Categories: Educated Unemployed Youth as Institutional Innovators in Rural Uganda.” They will receive practical hands-on training on qualitative investigation from Dr. Ben Jones of the University of East Anglia and Dr. Laury Lawrence Ocen of Lira University as they participate in conducting research in Teso and Lango.

In whatever, whether you want them to be teachers or doctors or engineers, it is just not enough to give them theoretical knowledge. We should emphasise practically oriented knowledge – letting them get out there to have experiential learning. We give them attachments and so on. Practical training is very important.

The issue of innovation in our training is coming up more and more now. I think this is the direction we should go. Because in that way, people begin to question things, and begin to turn around situations, and make it more practical, more useable. And not think that innovation should be left for people who come from elsewhere.

Mr. Jimmy Ezra Okello and Mr. Robert Oluka, young innovators, at the first team building meeting our our Challenging Categories project that was held at our Lira Learning Centre on 16th April 2021.

Doing things differently, and just being able to think creatively, that is innovation. The focus should be on practical training and making sure that the people we are educating should not just remain theoretical but get down and do things. If you are doing agriculture, go out there, spend more time on the field and learn, other than in the classroom.

Professor Dr. Christopher Garimoi Orach is the Board Chair of CPAR Uganda. He expressed his views, herein contained, during an interview with Mr. Philip Luswata, shortly after the first Team Workshop for our project in partnership with Lira University and the University of East Anglia, UK: “Challenging Categories: Educated Unemployed Youth as Institutional Innovators in Rural Uganda,” that was held on Friday, 16th April 2021 at the CPAR Uganda Lira Learning Centre. Prof. Orach is a professor of public health at Makerere University School of Public Health, where he has  been working for many years – including being the Deputy Dean; Head of Department of the Department of Community Outreach and Behavioural Sciences; actively involved in several research activities; and he teaches.

Photos Credit: All photos featured in this post were taken by Emmanuel Owaraga.

2 thoughts on “It isn’t enough to give learners only theoretical knowledge, says Prof. Orach

  1. I studied Bachelors in Demography and Reproductive Health. With the Reproductive Health part of it, I have practical things I am required to do. Well, while at the University, I did not do any practical thing my entire years at the University. And when I joined an organization for my Industrial training, it was “hell”. I would say because practical knowledge was required, but I did not have it. I used to believe that when the time comes, I would just apply my theoretical knowledge to do the practical. But, sincerely, it was totally different. Prof. Orach is surely right when he asserts that “it isn’t enough to give learners only theoretical knowledge.”

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