Lecturers at Bukalasa Agricultural College are urging a reevaluation of Uganda’s education system, emphasizing the need to move away from what they term the “Degree Syndrome” and prioritize Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET).
Led by Gelvan Kisolo Lule, the Principal of Bukalasa Agricultural College, the lecturers highlight the excessive focus on obtaining university degrees, which they argue neglects the development of practical skills essential for economic growth.
Lule expressed concerns during discussions with the Education Policy Review Commission, noting that many individuals prioritize formal degrees over practical skills relevant to their chosen careers, resulting in a gap between academic qualifications and job market demands.
To address this issue, Lule emphasized the importance of promoting TVET education, which focuses on equipping learners with practical skills needed for various trades and industries. He emphasized the economic benefits of producing more artisans and technicians rather than solely degree holders.
Joseph Sserwanga, the deputy principal at Bukalasa College, echoed these sentiments, highlighting the role of TVET in fostering innovation and entrepreneurship, particularly in nations like Singapore, China, and Germany.
Sserwanga proposed a revised framework where individuals with university-level academic backgrounds primarily engage in research and innovation, while skilled artisans and technicians implement these innovations within their specific fields.
The lecturers also raised concerns about the undervaluation of lower qualifications, such as certificates and diplomas, which often leads individuals to pursue higher degrees without gaining practical skills.
Furthermore, they questioned the government’s focus on establishing universities instead of prioritizing TVET institutions, especially in areas like agriculture where skilled technicians are crucial.
Their call comes as the Ministry of Education implements a TVET policy aimed at promoting vocational and skills training as a viable career path.
However, challenges such as internship opportunities remain, with calls for clearer policies and guidelines to bridge the gap between training centers and the workforce.
The lecturers urged the Education Policy Review Commission to address these issues in their report, emphasizing the importance of promoting internship and apprenticeship opportunities for TVET trainees.