Young people are like sponges. They learn at a furious rate and can surprise you when you least expect it.
We need to get to the foundation and teach kids life skills from a young age. This requires all the key stake holders. We are all stake holders in the future of Uganda.
In Canada and USA (other countries too), we have tried something called Junior Achievement (JA). Turning kids of today into Entrepreneurs of tomorrow. https://www.juniorachievement.org/web/ja-usa/home
Junior Achievement has several programs which can be ran in schools and incorporated into the daily routine. We have the Economics of Staying in School. This teaches children (P5 – S2) why education is important. In this program, we teach kids basics about life for example budgeting, job search, salaries, living expenses through games and role play. One typical day will involve playing games to see how much one can earn depending on their training. Later in the day, we get them to take adverts from the local news paper for jobs, apartments to rent and the car they want to buy.
By end of the day, the kids know that the better qualified you are, the bigger salary you will get and the better you will afford to pay your living expenses. You see a kid of 10-14 years has never thought about rent or food as expenses. It is quite the eye opener. All of a sudden, you will end up with kids telling you they will remain in school.
Canada is a bit different in that all education from Kindergarten through S6 is free. We only pay for University and College. So the tendency is for some people to take this free education for granted. Yet, we need them all to get skills. Economics of Staying in School (ESIS) helps the youngsters grasp this idea. Uganda is a different playing field. You have kids who cannot attend schools for various reasons. Then you have those who attend and finish to end up jobless. ESIS is one day in a year.
There is another program called Business Skills taught P6 – S2 equivalent. This one is a one day session with the kids where a working person or some other professional works with the kids to design a product or service. Their design is then calculated for cost benefit and profitability then they learn about the business world. Some kids take off with their ideas and start their own businesses in their team or alone. In any case, they will have learned key economics and financial things that they would never learn watching TV.
There is Junior Achievement in Uganda and the program needs to be expanded. http://www.jauganda.org/
The way JA works is businesses send out their employees into schools (salaries and expenses paid for). In fact most of the companies pay for printing the materials and this costs the schools nothing. These are their future employees anyway (the kids) so why not start them early learning about life?
I will soon write about addressing unemployment dealing with Universities and Technical Colleges.
Martha Leah Nangalama
The writer is a volunteer with Junior Achievement teaching ESIS