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Proposed New National Service Program for Youth in Uganda

Posted on March 30, 2016 at 2:00 PM

For the past year, there have been some whispers here in Uganda about making National Service required for all graduating Secondary school students. Those whispers are now becoming active conversations amongst our newly re-elected President Museveni and many members of Uganda’s Parliament.


What does National Service mean?

There is already a long waiting period of about 9 months between when a student completes Senior 6 and enters University and/or Advanced Technical Vocational Programs. The initial National Service Program proposal would expand that waiting period for another year and require 2 components of service of all youth. First, youth would complete 1 year of paid/unpaid internship with an assigned institution. Then, these same youth would complete 9 months of military training. Students would need to show proof of their completion prior to enrolling into Tertiary programs. The government is hopeful that both of these components would equip youth with both life and technical skills that could assist them in providing a more positive, profitable direction for their future.



Why institute mandatory National Service?

Uganda is looking to follow in the footsteps of other countries, like Israel and China, with similar and successful national youth programs already instituted. The youth are an overwhelming majority of Uganda’s population. There is a lot of idleness and lack of direction of youth. They just appear to have the skills and/or motivation to make a living for themselves in their own country. All the while, Uganda’s unemployment rate continues to increase.



Personally since I work with these very youth, it will be interesting to see where this proposed legislation progresses. The youth I have had conversations with about this proposed program are NOT excited at all, particularly the military service! Right now, the government has the idea/theory, but I have not heard the financial and social supports that will be necessary to sustain such a program. Keep you posted…


**Several portions of this blog post came from information published in several editions of Uganda’s New Vision Newspaper.


Categories: Life in Uganda