By Patrick Edward Musisi, Makerere

The speaker for Buganda Lukiiko (parliament) Ow’ekitiibwa Nelson Kawalya has advised Ugandans to lay emphasis on empowering youths with practical skills alongside mainstream academics, to add value to their working skills.

He was on Saturday opening a one-day business conference for partners of ‘Business Friends Africa’, held at Makerere University’s School of Food Technology, Nutrition and Bio-Engineering.

Kawalya was sad to note that many university students are not given practical skills which he noted, leads to being rejected by employers, and advised that the education system should be adjusted to stress practical skills.

“At Mengo, Ssabasajja Kabaka Mutebi  thought of this and established Buganda Business Royal Institute to cover the loophole, but this is not enough to cover the national needs”, Kawalya noted.

Mengo Lukiiko speaker Ow’ekitiibwa Nelson Kawalya (kitenge shirt) and Africa Foundation’s Rev. Dr. Kefa Sempangi. Both facilitated at the conference

In addition he noted, children leaving educational institutions are better placed to devise ways of earning an income immediately, rather than roaming  from office to office in search of white collar jobs.

Presenting a paper on “Inherent Handicaps to Quality Education”, the founder for Africa Foundation Inc Rev. Dr. Kefa Sempangi blamed colonial type of education for haunting Ugandans perennially, seeking to promote the values of the colonial masters alone.

Elaborating, Sempangi suggested that developing economies are allowed to use any convenient systems, rather than sticking to the age-old parrot-like citations which are acceptable to colonial bosses.

Explaining further, Dr. Sempangi asked, “What is the essence of awarding a student a degree for giving you answers that you directly fed into his brains without any practical knowledge to back up his knowledge?”

He lamented that “Decades after our independence, we continue to pursue the white man’s education system which points at making one forget what he knows and instills in him what they want,”

Participants inspecting an exhibition stall

Sempangi noted that their ancestors used to tie bangles around babies’ legs as a way of attracting them to walk to the sound of the melody, but that foreign mentality rejected this as satanic, while they use the same system of tying bells in their babies’ prams.

The conference organizer Dr. Dan Mayanja said the series of conferences by Business Friends Africa are intended to stimulate self empowerment for quality and value chains through networking with willing partners countrywide.

He said, “In essence, what we believe in is: give me what you have, and I give you what you don’t have, for us to be able to bring on board everybody in the development of this nation”.