President Yoweri Museveni has expressed commitment to support higher education in Uganda and the wider East African region.
Represented by the state minister for higher education, science and technology Prof. Togboa Tokodri, at the opening of the 2015 regional Inter University Forum in Entebbe on Thursday, the president emphasized the need to focus on higher education because it is a prerequisite for modern jobs.
“Integration is the way to go but it cannot be achieved without skills development”, the president said.
He added that well trained teachers are key in improving technological skills but the starting point should be supporting science.
Meanwhile, former president of the Federal Republic of Germany H.E Dr. Horst Kholer challenged East African leaders to prioritize investment in higher education.
In a recorded message delivered at the same event, Dr. Kholer said that what Africa needs are jobs and these cannot be created without human resource development at the highest level.
He added that education, skills and business are intertwined and so one must not be promoted at the expense of the other.
“Education is an end not simply a means. Society needs all kinds of education backgrounds such as scientists, artists etc. But the most important part of education is to prepare oneself for a job environment”. Dr. Kholer said.
He said education should lead to job creation through the right kind of growth based on creativity which is crucial for the manufacturing sector.
He also challenged African leaders to continuously fight corruption which is deep rooted in all sectors including education.
Meanwhile, the Executive Secretary Inter-University Council for East Africa Prof Mayunga Nkunya, decried the declining quality of the region’s graduates saying that a recent study by the council revealed that only less than half of them are able to transform knowledge into practical skills.
To address the current mismatch between the labour market and the quality of graduates, Prof. Nkunya called for increased support from parents and the private sector. Citing Makerere University’s Kiira EV Project, Prof Tokdori said with the necessary support, Uganda will be able to fully roll out a car assembling plant by 2019.
The two day forum organized by the Inter University Council for East Africa is focused on how to create the ideal graduate for the current job market.
According to the East African Community Secretary General, Amb. Dr. Richard Ssezibera, some of the attributes of an ideal graduate include among others; attention to detail, strong and good character, dependability and reliability as well as hard work and ability to transform knowledge into practical skills.
Quoting the Rwandan President Paul Kagame, Dr. Sezibera said “Africa has run out of excuses for not developing”.
Story By Catherine Ageno