Soon after the release of PLE results and graduation ceremonies of public universities, I randomly met three Ugandans with experiences and concerns that made me ask the question: “What do parents in Uganda want their children to get out of the education system?”

My first meeting was with a 12-year-old young man. He narrated to me an experience where his mother sent him to get a replacement for a defective product bought from a city store. Many businesses in Uganda still maintain the phrase: “Goods once sold not returnable” at the bottom of the sales receipt.

Despite the no return warning on the sales receipt, the young man was able to convince the store to give him a replacement. The young man was being schooled in negotiation, a skill that perhaps many academically high performing students do not get or have.

My second encounter was with a mother whose son had got division one in the PLE but missed admission to the preferred secondary school. The mother was conflicted between supporting her son to enrol in a school that would enhance his talents or looking for a school that promised good scores in the next national examination level.

My third encounter was with the Vice Chancellor of a public university. The professor was concerned about encouraging and developing innovation and problem-solving skills in the thousands of students under his care. I share his passion and we got engrossed in discussing the matter until the personal assistant told him it was time for the next appointment.

The career horizon is no longer static like it was in the 1960s to 1980s. Some of the top paying jobs today did not exist 10 years ago. In 2009, I did not think a drone operator could earn a lot of money today. In 2013, a government organisation hired me to facilitate team building sessions for the staff. My co-facilitators, who incidentally earned more than I did, were two young men leading dance exercise sessions!

Parents, educators and students need to ask if the education being provided today will give the student a fighting chance when they graduate.

James Abola is a business and finance consultant. Email: [email protected]