By Queenter Mawinda
The Executive Secretary for the Inter-University Council for East Africa (IUCEA) Professor Mayunga Nkunya has said that Tanzania still lags behind in university students’ enrollment rate compared to other East African countries.
Professor Nkunya made the observation early this week in an interview during the second East African Community university students’ debates on EAC integration organized by Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ), the German agency for international development.
Professor Nkunya said in spite of the government’s attempts to increase the number of students enrolled in universities, there is a need to review the programs to increase students’ confidence and professionalism after completing their studies. That would enable them to tune themselves better to the labour market in East Africa and beyond.
With Tanzania aiming to reach a target of 300,000 students in its universities by 2015, the Minister for Education and Vocational Training Dr Shukuru Kawambwa told Parliament that a total of 65,000 students are this year being enrolled in local universities.
However the number is well below those admitted to universities in other East African countries, Prof. Nkunya noted.
For instance, in Kenya the Economic Survey 2010 reported a total of 143,000 students in public universities in 2009, up from 101,000 in 2008.
And in 2011, the country’s Joint Admission Board (JAB), which handles admissions of government-sponsored undergraduates to public universities, decided on a double intake of new undergraduate students. This enabled admissions of 32,611 students who sat for the Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE) in 2009 and 2010 out of 96,000 who qualified.
These statistics are for public universities only in Kenya – while the Tanzanian target includes both private and public universities.
In Uganda, enrolment in public universities shot up when the National Resistance Movement took power more than 20 years ago, from about 5,000 students to more than 100,000 today. According to a 2008 Uganda Bureau of Statistics report, in that year the country’s 27 universities had 92,605 students.
According to Prof. Nkunya, many students fail to join universities because of the poor quality of education and curriculum used in high schools.
In an envisaged leap forward, there is need to harmonize education systems so as to increase student’s enrollment in universities as well as integration with other universities.
He said the EAC is still faced with lack of employment opportunities for fresh graduates, while the situation is worse for those who leave schools at lower levels, contributing to criminality.
Universities provide education that does not prepare students to creation of entrepreneurial capacity for empowering individuals to create self employment and employment for others, the don indicated.
There is need to establish strong ties between private sector and employers on one hand, to work hand in hand with universities so as to project students capability for employment or self employment
“There is a need to expand employment opportunities so as to reduce the number of youths who are unemployed in both regional groups,” he stated.
Currently the council is working closely with the East African Business Council (EABC) so as to make sure youths are given skills and knowledge that will enable them to be self employed.
With a tone of disappointment, he said that it was expected that communities near agricultural universities like Sokoine University in Morogoro would set examples for agricultural communities elsewhere in the country.
Our education system does not give students the opportunity to link with the outside world and communities, and oversee opportunity and challenges ahead, he stated.
“Universities should think outside the box and go beyond the mark on how students are going to contribute their education to the society,” he added.
SOURCE: THE GUARDIAN (http://www.ippmedia.com/frontend/index.php?l=59046)