VOCATIONAL SKILLS FOR NATIONAL DEVELOPMENT

Borrowing a Leaf from China’s Economy

The economic reforms that were introduced by Deng Xiaoping in the late seventies have transformed the Chinese economy and produced a period of spectacular growth. China’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) grew at an average rate of 9.3 percent between1979-1993. The world experienced a growth rate of 2.6 percent for the same period. China’s GDP has also quadrupled over a period of only fifteen years. It has also improved its status as a trading nation, rising to eleventh position from number thirty-seven in ten years. Another important fact is that China has accumulated a large foreign currency reserve and is second in the world to Japan. China has also taken advantage of foreign investment and is also rated second in the world, after the US. It is important to realize that the above figures do not include any contribution from Hong Kong, which China regained as a possession in July 1997.

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While China’s performance has been impressive, it also has the potential to maintain this growth. It has a massive population, which represents not only a large domestic market but also a cheap labor source of some eight hundred million people. It is also a country that is blessed with vast natural resources. The current economic problems in Asia have not had a major impact on China, though there are predictions of slower growth. However, it was expected that China would become the world’s largest economy, in terms of GDP by 2020.

Uganda could also take the same or a similar development route if its education system gets an overhaul as aligned with China’s.

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Technical and vocational education and training plays an essential role in improving the wellbeing of youths, elderly, children and communities at large. It increases productivity, empowers an individual to become self reliant and stimulates entrepreneurship.

Currently vocational training is not popular among Ugandan youths. It is mostly regarded inferior compared to a university degree. A change in thinking is needed. Uganda doesn’t only rely on doctors, lawyers and the likes. Good tailors, beauticians, welders, carpenters, electricians and others are as vital to the development of a country such as this. In general, these vocations provide more employment opportunities and the option of becoming self-employed.

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Elit Ritah

PR SPECIALIST: confident, passionate, critical, observant, optimistic, inquisitive, strong-spirited, self-motivated, self-driven, private.

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