University Deans & Students Demand for Increased Gov’t Funding in Innovation

KABALE – The Deans of Students and Guild Leaders from various universities in Uganda have jointly called upon the government to increase funding for innovation initiatives as a means to combat rising unemployment.

This appeal was voiced during the 15th Annual Deans of Students and Guild Leaders’ Conference, held at Kabale University in Kabale Municipality, from the 20th to the 23rd of September 2023.

This conference served as a platform for academic leaders and student representatives from both public and private higher education institutions to address the challenges students face during and after their studies.

This year’s conference revolved largely around discussions concerning leadership and youth unemployment.

During these deliberations, Owen Mukonyezi, the Guild President of Mountains of the Moon University in Fort Portal, and Ms. Hibah Asiimwe, the Guild President of Islamic University in Uganda (IUIU), pointed to the unemployment crisis’s root cause being academic courses that are no longer relevant to the job market.

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They urged the government to prioritize innovation and practical courses that equip students with the skills needed for immediate employment upon graduation.

Speaking to the press during the conference, Amos Tukamushaba, the Dean of Students at Kabale University, emphasized that increasing funding for innovation programs within universities could significantly reduce the rate of youth unemployment.

He highlighted the abundance of innovative ideas among students but noted that many lack the financial resources to bring these projects to fruition.

Tukamushaba stressed that if the government allocated funding for these projects, it could facilitate the creation of more job opportunities, thereby reducing the reliance on traditional employment avenues.

During her keynote address, Professor Joy Constance Kwesiga, the Vice Chancellor of Kabale University, disclosed that the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) was providing financial support to Kabale University to establish a business and innovation incubation hub.

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“This hub would cater to both students and members of the local community with innovative ideas, further illustrating the importance of promoting innovation”. Prof Kwesiga said.

However, Prof. Kwesiga acknowledged the financial challenges associated with providing free education for skills and innovation courses at the university level.

Instead, she encouraged young people to consider short courses in technical skills as a way to prepare themselves for self-employment.

It is worth noting that the overall unemployment rate in Uganda rose to 12% in 2021 from 8.8% in 2019/20, with a particularly severe impact on the youth, as revealed by the Uganda Bureau of Statistics (UBOS) abstract in 2022.

This alarming trend underscores the urgency of the call for increased funding for innovation and practical courses in universities to address the country’s unemployment crisis.

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