Graduates of higher institutions need to start wearing their thinking cap. They need to move away from the familiar sense of entitlement which has been ravaging us in this part of the world and understand that our future lies not just in what governments and other institutions are capable of doing for us but what we can do for ourselves.
The lesson I learnt from my sojourn in the west is that working is a value. One has to work and parents teach their children that they have to work and earn. Just because your parents are wealthy doesn’t mean your life is already worked out. You have to contribute to the home bills and somehow find something to do. The work doesn’t have to be white colour…but as a must, you have to find something to put your hands to. You can’t seat your bums and just wait for a white collar job.
In Norway, I found the same story. Most university students have to have some form of temporary work. Students often work as attendants, waiters in restaurants, cleaners in hotels, shop attendants, drivers, newspaper vendors, et cetera. It is a value to work and people dont despise jobs.
By the way, they don’t work because their parents can’t give them money. They work because it is a value that has been embedded in them from childhood. Once a student finishes high school, they take on a part time job and save money for use at university or travels.
If you want some money from your parents, you borrow and pay back. Nothing comes free. They teach you to live on your own. Being at University or having a degree is ‘nothing.’ You are not the first or the last. Serving people in a restaurant does not make anyone look less a graduate. Service is service! Work is a value.
As a matter of fact, most of the places near Universities are filled with university students working as part timers. University students are encouraged to take up these part time jobs. The white people we like to imitate are doing what we think is too dirty or casual for a graduate in Africa.
It got me thinking about students in our Universities here in Uganda. I thought about all the restaurants around Wandegeya, and the attitude of University students and graduates about these types of jobs. I thought about the poor attitude we have towards work
The more I thought about it the more I realised why we are going to take longer to develop. We have a generation of young people who feel they are too educated to do certain jobs. We have a generation of children who have been prepared for a life that doesn’t exist. We have a crop of young people who are whiter than the whites. My time in Europe taught me that we need to get back on the drawing board and re-orient our graduates.
Students in our universities should be oriented to appreciate the value of work. There is no reason why a University should not employ students to clean the Library, kitchen, dining halls, hostels. It is improper that a university canteen should find external staff when it has over 30,000 students who can work in shifts and serve other students.
See, through this kind of work, being able to do ordinary jobs and be seen as a servant makes you true leaders. When students grow up with a sense of entitlement and a higher standard of living, it translates into greed when they get into national politics. They apportion themselves good things, higher privileges and want to float above everyone because work is about money, status and not service.
People who are willing to serve, and not merely earn make better leaders. Such work raises a generation of leaders who don’t do things to be seen or be thought of as higher and more qualified, but leaders who get things done. In some firms in western societies, when they look at a CV, such experience, demonstrates the attitude of a person, their humility, values and philosophy towards work.
We are raising a generation of children whose only image of the west is what they watch on TV. They speak using enhanced accents, know what is the latest, they are ‘cool’ but they have no idea what makes the west what it is. My experience in the west shows me something different. People work and do ordinary jobs and that’s how things get done.
If we are to get good leaders, we must first change the attitude of young people about work. An inflated self-image creates bad leaders who want to further segregate themselves from the ordinary people they consider low and less qualified. We have a big problem in our society and we have to find a way to deal with it.
Students despise these jobs because they believe work is about status and money. Taken further into their lives, it means they may likely want to maintain status and money as their pursuits when they get into leadership positions. If we must correct our leadership and governance problems, we may also need to do something about the attitude of students and graduates about their philosophies and values about work. In there, lies a very big problem.
Do not despise work, go out there and just work. The pope was once a bouncer at a club. Today he is one of the most powerful men in the world. Imagine that you had nothing to fear, what would you do to earn a living? Imagine that you had no degree or that anyone cares what would you do to earn a living? Imagine, that no one is going to help you find a job, what would do?
I am not saying go do what you don’t like…but may be…just may be you may need to develop a new attitude towards work, serve people (in whatever opportunities unfold) and be happy to have served. You can never tell what the future holds, and you may never know who you will meet at your humble place of work. Most interestingly, you may never know the untold story of those who work and serve you in those places where you go as the bosses or the rich.
Even for you that are already employed in ‘high’ places, don’t mind going out and just find a part time job (if you have time) or offer services in the evening or weekend at any place where your services can be of use. Meet people, network and just keep yourself active. Degrees are everywhere…literally everyone has them…so just forget about the whole hype about it and be true to yourself. As you look for other opportunities…don’t be afraid to branch off a little and keep yourself at something. Don’t despise jobs. Serve. I am now looking for my next gig. I am happy to serve. Cheers!
MY PROBLEM WITH THE DEGREE. MY ENCOUNTER WITH GRADUATES/UNIVERSITY STUDENTS. By Henry Mutebe
Note: I was an amateur photographer in the locality (Airfoce Militay School) where I did my national youth service in Jos, Plateau State. The second-hand camera, Zenith brand(I can still remember) was sold to me by a fellow- youth corper. I will hang it on my shoulders to attend ceremonies and make cool bucks, such that I was the first proud owner of a video-cassette player which was then the height of home electronic possession in those days (late 80s), and many other home luxuries. I was financially independent from the paltry N350 monthly which the service authorities were paying then.
Please, take up a vocation and stop blaming government for your financial woes.