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Speaking up for the youth

FLYING HIGH: Pearl Agasha was the winner of this year’s #Blog4Dev essay competition by the World Bank (WB). One of the perks of winning was attending the Spring Meetings, which bring together all the who’s who of the WB and IMF among other stakeholders to discuss crucial world issues, in Washington DC. Grace Kenganzi caught up with her when she returned.

 


1. What inspired your essay?
My essay was inspired by the fact that Uganda’s education system has a bit of a gap when it comes to empowering the youth with the right knowledge in school. Truth be told, the African youth, for example in Uganda, spends majority of their early life in school before they are exposed to the workplace environment.

Therefore, if they are not equipped with the right knowledge and skills, they will definitely be ill-prepared for the work environment and will not be as competent. With the world evolving digitally, there is need to revise the Ugandan curriculum and make it more practical. It should also thrive on digital literacy learning and expose the youth, at a tender age, to skills that will help them thrive in the digital economy and inspire their creativity because the future of work is online

2. You mentioned the need for a more practical curriculum in your essay. In what ways can this happen?
Take for example the British curriculum that is used in international schools. It includes developing a person’s personality and students are taught to learn by questioning, problem solving, creative thinking rather than a mere retention of facts. Our Ugandan curriculum should adopt such a mode of learning. Truth is, we are living in a rapidly changing world (digital era) and yet we are preparing our students for life in a society, where they may be working in jobs that do not currently exist, for instance artificial intelligence.
However, there is hope for Uganda with organisations such as Fundi Bots, Boundless Minds that are trying to change the mode of learning and training learners in a way that prepares them to fit in the market place. We must revise this and the government can start by working with such organisations.

3. What was your biggest highlight from interacting with young people from different parts of Africa in Washington?
Interacting with youth from 32 countries opened up my mind to realise that we actually face similar problems, it is just that the context may differ. It also reminded me that there were no borders limiting us and the fact that our problems are quite similar, it was encouraging to see young ambitious, enthusiastic youth proposing solutions to improve and shape the world around them.

I was also encouraged by the fact that some of the leaders present at the World Bank spring meetings were more than willing to engage the youth and allow their voices to be heard. There is hope. Each of us were just one person representing their country. We are the future so we must begin to hold our leaders accountable to the extent that the youth are included in the policy and decision making process. After all, we and the next generation are the ones that will face the consequences of whatever decisions are made.

4. Millennials get a lot of shade as entitled, lazy and so many other negative perceptions. What’s your take on this?
[Laughs] I don’t think that this [description] is entirely true. Millennials are the most creative people the world has had so far. With the work environment transforming digitally, you find that working 8-5 jobs in a physical office is slowly changing and so you find majority of the millennials are using their creativity to tap into the opportunities online and can work from the convenience of their homes and the PC can be their office, which may be misinterpreted as being lazy.

I also think millennials are perceived as entitled because they want to see results immediately and maybe that is where some falter because they want quick results through shortcuts, not allowing space for growth in one area. But you cannot blame them since with the digital era, something new comes in a short span of time. While in the States [Sqoop recognises her humble brag], I saw a quote on a building that read, “Millennial are lazy. Retire early and prove them wrong.” [Laughs] That right there says a lot, I won’t add to it.

5. That thing you would like Sqoop readers to know that we have not asked you?
Those that have a form of influence to speak up on behalf of the voiceless should remember to bring as many people in the room with them, that is, make more room at the table for other youth who are not as privileged by making their issues known.
Another thing, remember that that the world is your oyster with limitless opportunities, you are your only limitation so start by believing in yourself and defying your comfort zone. The rest of the world will adjust once they realise what you are capable of. Don’t you dare settle for less.

Who is Pearl?
I am the head of client services at Kwanza Communications, a Kampala-based PR firm. I am also a digital marketer and public relations specialist who enjoys reading, blogging and socialising. I find joy in creating platforms for people to share their ideas, especially through writing and this greatly inspires most of what I write on my blog.

Most used apps
WhatsApp, WordPress, Instagram, LinkedIn and the YouVersion bible app.
Pet peeves…
People who type messages in shorthand, the likes of “dia” “hau”. You lose nothing by writing correct grammatical words and sentences. At the end of the day, such things come back to bite you, especially when you start working. Another peeve is people who trash others online to gain cheap popularity.

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