Part II: Education and Unemployment in Uganda
KAMPALA, UGANDA – After 17 years of schooling, Danson Baingana, 32, graduated with a bachelor’s degree in commerce from Makerere University in 2005. He says he was full of enthusiasm and hope that at last he was going to become financially independent.
“I was so happy that I had finally finished school after 17 years of schooling,” he says.
He was eager to pay back his aunt, who had paid for his school fees.
“My auntie Jonah Musinguzi who paid my school fees was also happy,” she says. “I very much wanted to get a good job and reward her.”
But his hopes began to dwindle after submitting many applications and not receiving a single interview. He says he could not find any work for three years.
This led to embarassment in his village in western Uganda. He says the local residents shunned him for receiving an expensive education yet not having a job to show for it. He stopped going home for Christmas and other holidays because he says he could not stand the rumors, silent snubs and cold stares from his fellow villagers.
“I stopped going to my village in Rwampara,” he says. “The villagers back bite me and look at me as someone who has failed to get employment despite all the money that was spent on me to pay my school fees.”
Baingana currently lives in Kampala, Uganda’s capital, but still has not been able to find a full-time job. Three years after graduation, he started finding work on a contract basis, which is how he has been earning a living. He has mainly found work as a research assistant on various research projects.
Despite the lack of employment opportunities, he believes that one day he will get a full-time job that will be worth the wait.
“I have not totally lost hope,” he says. “I hope to get a job that is worth the time I have waited.”
Baingana’s plight is not unique. Many other graduates in Uganda say they struggle to find employment as well.
Many Ugandans with higher education degrees say that they haven’t been able to find long-term work or any work at all. Despite the poor employment situation, some Ugandans are abandoning jobs they can’t tolerate. But most say they put up with unsatisfactory pay or working conditions because it’s better than joining the ranks of the unemployed. The government has been developing projects to boost employment here, but officials admit that more needs to be done on short- and long-term bases to alleviate unemployment and underemployment nationwide.
Unemployment was 1.9 percent and underemployment was 12.1 percent in Uganda as of 2005-2006, according to the latest statistics from the Uganda Bureau of Statistics.
But current statistics available in Uganda do not reflect the actual level of unemployment in Uganda, says Opio Dauglas, a policy and research officer at the Federation of Uganda Employers, the national apex body of employers. Dauglas attributes this