“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.”

Gladys Awino

Gladys Awino

Glady’s wrote this in reaction to Prof. Christopher Garimoi Orach’s thesis that it isn’t enough to giver learners only theoretical knowledge.” Glady’s testimony explains a lot of how post graduation, many have university graduates have major challenges blending in and fitting in with the job market. Right from interviewing for jobs.

“When I went for internship, The HR asked me “young man what can u do”? I had nothing to answer despite all the demography and reproductive health I had studied at the university, I urge universities to adopt compulsory computer practicals that suit each and every course.”

Kuku on Facebook

The challenge is not only in the field of teaching reproductive health and is also in other unrelated fields,

“I didn’t get to do the practical part even during internship. I thought maybe finally there was going to be practical, but sincerely our work as interns there was to sit and observe what would take place in a court room, without any participation. And maybe sending us around offices and arranging files. It looked like we were practicing secretarial work and not legal practice.”

Dorah Adoch Komakech

Dorah Adoch Komakech (left) and Gloria doing practicals during training on cash flows which is part of the CPAR Uganda mentoring programme.

Dorah’s testimony adds another dimension of how many organisations accept to host students for their industrial training or internship, but what is the quality of that industrial training or internship?

“It’s a reality we have to deal with. Many young people get lost when they leave university, because they enter in another world. We will continue to engage universities but we should also do something to mentor those out to give them directions. I appreciate the “Mentoring Young Adults into Innovators Against Poverty” project by CPAR Uganda, under the leadership of Norah Owaraga. We hope to do the same in Pader in the near future.”

Akullo Betty, Executive Director of the nonprofit Women and Rural Development Network (WORUDET)

Akullo Betty participating in a stakeholders meeting at the CPAR Uganda Lira Learning Centre

Akullo’s optimism is what we should nurture, even though some seem to be giving up, such as Masud who on Facebook commented thus: “So degrees are only about paper work or theory. Then in real life it means examination are useless for University entry.” There is a lot that we can do to make learning better and more practical for our tertiary level learners, so that when they go out into the world they don’t feel lost.

A good starting point is to re-visit how come, as a nation, we, in Uganda, seem to underrate and under-prioritize technical training institutions which some think much better by far in producing the more appropriate labour force.

James Opollo at his ICT shop in Lira City

I consider myself lucky as by the time (2013) I was joining Gulu University for Bachelor of Information and communication Technology, I had done diploma in Information Communication Technology (ICT) at a technical college. So, practically, I didn’t have much challenges, but my friends had many challenges on practicals as the studies were more theoretical. I was of great help to my friends while at university. Most courses done at Technical colleges are practicals and the good part of it is that the practicals are also awarded marks not like in universities! So, the government through ministry of education should look at empowering students with practicals while at universities.

James Opollo

Post featured photo: Professor Okaka Opio Dokotum, PhD, Deputy Vice Chancellor of Lira University at a stakeholders meeting at the CPAR Uganda Lira Learning Centre

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