Majority of educated youths in African countries are either unemployed or underemployment for those lucky enough to have gotten what to do. Some still have hope for the future, some seem to have settled for whatever they have managed to manifest from life however small it might be, and some have drifted towards alcoholism, drug addiction and gambling (among other vices) just so they can have something to bond with.
Why do they end up unemployed even after spending so many years in school?
Well, after the colonialists were forced out of our land, we had to replace them with our own people and take full control of our own governments using the knowledge we had acquired from them during their time here. We therefore adopted the formal education system they left behind and used it to educate our people who would then help in running the governments. They left us an education system designed to produce administrators, teachers, lawyers, doctors, accountants and people of similar professions so whoever went as far as higher education was assured of a well paying white collar job with either the government or one of the major corporations.
For that reason, everyone from that generation believed formal education was the only key to success because it was evident those who ‘’went to school’’ got the good jobs and lived in the urban areas. Every peasant’s dream therefore was to send their children to school because they believed in the long run they could change their entire family’s lives.
Fast forward to over five decades later, most African parents still think exactly the same way; send your children to school and if they work hard enough and get good grades, they will get a white collar job with the government or one of the major corporations and pay back your investment. How I wish it was that plain and simple in today’s Africa. What they forget is they are sending them to go and study the same things that were being taught in schools fifty years ago yet the world keeps changing every other day. The education system in Uganda, for example, has never been tempered with. It is exactly the same way the British colonialists left it with us and only minor changes have been made to it thus far.
As a young man who attended school right from kindergarten all the way to university, I can confirm that higher education was not designed to equip you with skills in your profession, but rather to check how good you are at taking exams, and this makes it more of schooling than it is education. It has therefore become normal for students to leave university having learnt nothing applicable in real life except how to read, write and express themselves in the Queen’s language. All this is because exams are meant to test only your memory, leaving your imagination untouched hence making it difficult for graduates to get creative in real life.
On top of investing in job creating initiatives, African governments should consider revising their education systems and scrap off the useless things children are being taught whilst in school. On average, an African child spends nineteen years in school from kindergarten to university. If this time was spent teaching them relevant things that actually matter in real life, life after school would be easier to maneuver through. The systems should not only focus on teaching children about 19th century European wars but also focus on developing children’s talents by noticing their interests from a younger age and helping them major in those fields because in today’s world it is easier to excel in a field one has interests in. And also, today’s world needs everyone, be it athletes, entertainers, writers, photographers, programmers and not only the crammed professions our education system is designed to produce.
Anyway, to my African brothers and sisters out there who cannot find jobs; keep your heads up, eventually you will find or create one! Just don’t forget to always make yourselves busy because the worst feature of having no job is idleness, not hunger.
by Owach Marshal , Uganda