Views from Fiona: Education in Uganda.  Agony after Triumphal Success
Fiona Abaasa at her graduation.

Views from Fiona: Education in Uganda. Agony after Triumphal Success


In terms of the countries with the highest rate of ‘brain drain’, Uganda was recently ranked sixth in the world. Year in and year out parents and other family members celebrate a graduate’s accomplishments upon graduation. It is sometimes not too clear that a bigger battle is yet to be fought. Graduates often come to this battle with their academic accomplishments as their only shield, only to be miserably disappointed.

By Fiona Abaasa
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First published: November 9, 2005


The 48th graduation at Makerere University Freedom Square took place for the first time in the institutions history on two days consecutively, Thursday 27th & Friday 28th October. It was presided over by the chancellor Professor Nsibambi. Holding the graduation on two days was due to the large numbers of graduates as it has been tiresome doing it all on one day, Friday, which has been the tradition.


The number of girls graduating was up considering their ratio to boys, which is a good indicator that finally girls should actually go to school; study for a career of their choice and pursuit it. Also impressive was the number of first class degrees obtained by girls, for example in the faculty of technology, out of the first ten first class degrees, seven were girls with Dokoria Lillian garnering a whopping 4.91 CGPA [Cumulative Grade Point Average] out the total 5.0. Highly impressive I must say! But to Lillian, she says girls in her class actually were always the first.

So the whole weekend was littered with parties congratulating the graduates on their various achievements. This is one culture, if you may call it that, which I strongly disagree with. While they should celebrate their achievements, they should not do so with pompous parties calling all and sundry, sending vehicles to upcountry to bring relatives and friends. It is simply unnecessary considering the graduates will be on the streets on Monday looking for a job!

I advocate for small dinners for family and a few close individuals then the sums of money that was going to be wasted on the a huge party can be given to the graduates as start-up capital for a business or else enroll him/her for a master’s degree.

At one of the dinner’s I attended, the host seemed to have read my mind. Mr. Nahamya Steven said that he could afford a better arrangement but he did not see the need for a huge party and that it was waste of resources. He told the graduates to pick forms from the university of his choice and the money that would have been wasted on a party, will enable his enrolment for a master’s degree. I applauded the foresight of the man.

The graduating men and women are faced with an uphill task of finding suitable employment in an already exhausted market. Some refuse jobs they term as small and not of their caliber. Others are soon disillusioned with not finding any thing to do because in school they had grand visions of good employment, cars and all the fringe benefits of a good job. Soon after failing to secure one they are forced back from cloud nine, even to find that the ‘small jobs’ they had refused at first, are now already taken and no longer available to them. Mukoye Kenneth, a 1999 graduate, is still running after missed opportunities, because of the job offers he rejected. In his cheeky way he had termed them as ‘menial jobs.’ He sobered up real fast, he now says. Several graduates, often after job failure, decide to look elsewhere and as a result they go to Europe in search of kyeyo for survival.

Recent research shows that 36% of Uganda’s graduates earn a living in Europe, Canada, US and other nations. This has led to Uganda being the 6th nation in the world affected by brain drain. Most of our professionals go abroad looking for greener pastures & survival as the job market here is clogged with those who have been in service for the last 30 years are not about to retire.

Dr. Kakande Patrice a graduate of MUK went to South Africa looking for a job in his profession, having heard that in S.A there was a need for doctors. But his dreams were shattered when their national department of health told him that they could not employ him because it is their policy not to recruit from developing nations. He quickly landed on a goldmine of witchcraft wizardry owing to the nature of some South Africans being superstitious. Witchcraft is a booming trade and he is still a reputable doctor though a dubious one. Creativity is the one thing Ugandans have plenty of!

By Fiona Abaasa
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First published: November 9, 2005
Fiona Abaasa is a visitor of UGPulse.com.