In Uganda, there is a clear disparity between the teachings of educational institutions and the demands of the labor market. UNESCO’s partnership with China Funds-in-Trust Phase III: Higher technical education in Africa for a technical and innovative workforce (CFIT III) attempts to alleviate the effects of this education gap in Uganda.
The Education Gap in Uganda
A key goal of childhood education is preparation for one’s future career. When higher education programming does not prepare students for success in a country’s labor market, the disparity is termed an “education gap.” In Uganda, this is extremely prevalent in the agriculture industry. It is therefore necessary for youth to receive more training to prepare them for employment in this sector.
As of 2017, 42.2% of Uganda’s population lived on less than $2.15 a day. If Uganda closes this education gap, poverty levels could decline as a result of increased opportunities for individual success.
The UNESCO-CFIT III Program
In 2019, an agreement between UNESCO and the People’s Republic of China established phase III of CFIT in order to bridge the gap between education and employment. This program covers six countries including Ethiopia, Gabon, Senegal, Cote d’Ivoire, the United Republic of Tanzania and Uganda. The main focus is on institutes of higher education, with the program providing support and funding for enhanced student learning experiences.
Goals of the Program
The UNESCO website states multiple expected outcomes of the program, the most important one being, “Effective utilization of information from labor market analysis, curriculum review, graduate tracer studies by HEIs [higher education institutions] to improve the delivery of technical education.” This means that the problem will be approached from multiple angles, including research on what types of changes will be most beneficial to student growth.
Mbarara University of Sciences and Technology
In Uganda specifically, CFIT has supported the development of the Innovative Bio-organic Farming Techniques (i-SOFT) project at the Mbarara University of Sciences and Technology (MUST). This program contributes to entrepreneurship and skills-focused training for graduate students at the university. Specifically, the project, “focuses on converting biowastes into high-quality sustainable fertilizers to boost agricultural productivity,” according to UNESCO. This technological innovation, coupled with increased training for students, has been able to develop the agricultural industry and allow greater student involvement in a constantly growing field. It has seen widespread results across farms in four different Ugandan districts.
In addition to those specific effects, the i-SOFT program has been able to educate students about important abilities relevant to any type of future career success. These include business skills, marketing, ICT knowledge and more. This has allowed students to explore greater opportunities and create their own businesses.
The implementation of UNESCO-CFIT programming in Uganda specifically fosters optimism for the agricultural industry. More importantly, it allows students to gain an understanding of the key skills necessary for future success in the labor force.
UNESCO has stated that “it is hoped that students will promote agro-industrialization in their communities using the skills acquired and develop other innovations.” Using this explanation, implementing UNESCO-CFIT programming in higher education institutions is a strong step toward closing the education gap in Uganda.
– Hailey Dooley