So recently in my country, there has been a number of bizarre cases of unemployment. Various government sectors have been advertising jobs and the number of youths that apply for the particular vacancies has been what someone called ‘a big joke’. A good example is an Immigration Department which announced a vacancy and needed 70 people, only to get a turn up of over 10,000, and had to conduct the first interview at the national stadium. This and many more peculiar signs of unemployment among the youths continue to put many youths down and under depression. Many young people who are considered to be flowers today expected to bear fruits in the future are losing hope and seen as a burden in the economies. Many countries are talking and trying to find a solution to this problem, but it is worsening by the day.
I think the link between education and employment is vital here. The late Mwalimu Nyerere had a vision I admire. He started what he referred to as Education for Self Reliance and Liberation. This means that education should be aimed at making an individual self reliant, also a community as a whole. Thus, it is the role and duty of the community to educate its members. In his time, Mwalimu started polytechnics, these institutions were meant to teach a particular vocational subject, and making sure all the students are assigned duties on the completion of the course. We have a number of these higher institutions here in Tanzania such as, Ardhi University which deals with environmental studies, Institute of Financial Management which deals with finance and careers such as banking and accounts, and many more other institutions which were meant for a particular vocational. But today we have endless number of higher institutions and others are still coming up with countless programs that are being taught, many of them theoretical and unrealistic to the life situation in the country. This system has left many youths unemployed and disoriented, not able to find their purpose and follow their dreams.
If only our governments could provide a solution by looking back, then maybe we may be able to find a way to provide education with purpose. In 1967, Nyerere defined meaningful education, as that which can transmit knowledge and wisdom from one generation to the next, and which prepares young people for their future membership of the society and their active participation in its maintenance and development. Education needs to address realities in life of an individual and society in general. A country cannot compete if the majority of the youths are languishing in the streets with University degrees that are irrelevant to them and applying for non-existing jobs, but rather, they should be given education which will enable them to improve their lives and that of their communities.
“However socially insensitive we may be, we have a need to belong to a community of fellow human beings. No human can make it alone. Nobody is asking us to love others more than we love ourselves; but those of us who have been lucky enough to receive a good education have a duty also to help to improve the well-being of the community to which we belong: it is part of loving ourselves! (Nyerere 1999)”
By Johnmary Vianney Atugonza, former WYA Africa Intern. To learn more about internships in WYA Africa, click here.