I have been drawn to this prevailing debate recently that suggests that population explosion in Uganda signifies economic hardships in future should the government not intervene. Proponents of this debate refer to the Late Lee Yuan Yew of Singapore whose government came up with a policy that every family have a single child.
With a surface area of 277.3 mi², Singapore’s total population is merely 5.4 million people. Uganda currently has a population of 37.58 million as of the 2014 National Population and Housing Census covering the surface area of 91,136 mi².
That not withstanding, Uganda also has a fertility rate 5.96 births per woman and a 6% population growth rate per annum. Our (Ugandans) problem even sore with the skyrocketing unemployment problem that has rendered most of our educated youth redundant.
Despite this adversity however, I still hold that we can realize full potential and have a flourishing economy. The real question however is how and the answer is dualism. China for example boasts of a population of 1.4 billion coupled with a GDP $9.24 trillion. If this money is to be dispatched to its population, each would get $6, 807, 43.
Though its growth rate was dealt a blow last year, China remains one of the fastest growing countries in world. Countries like Nigeria, India, South Africa have managed a stable economic growth despite their high populations, an indicator that if the population is fully utilized, the results can be phenomenal.
The two pre-current writers on this column, Brian Semujju and Isaac Mukuwa, in their write ups following my earlier article on theory over practice in the education system derailing Africa’s economic growth took their eyes off the ball.
Semujju held that there is no way practice can be successful without theory and he used everyday problems like road accidents to justify the relevance of theory and I agree with him.
Only we have spent years in this educational model and the results are still the same if not declining and persisting in the same model would make scientists like Albert Einstein turn in his graves.
Einstein once said that “doing the same thing over and over expecting different results is insanity.” But of course Semujju would say that I’m misquoting Einstein.
The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) for example possessed 88,000 miles of good all season motor road by the time of Independence. But 20 years later, it had only 1,200 miles left. The simple explanation of this anomaly is human and institutional failure which I address by suggesting dualism as the new education model most African countries should adopt.
Dualism is simply a philosophy of having two divided conceptions of solving a particular problem. In this education model, both theory and practice can thrive depending on the resources available.
In China, a student will be tasked to design a prototype for a mobile phone as their coursework after appreciating the movement of electrons and how many are needed to transmit a signal. In Uganda however, a student on the same level will be very busy appreciating Vasco Da Gama’s sea route to India if they are lucky not to be studying historical mysteries of how Musoke, a small god in Buganda provided rain.
As a result, China has made a fortune from their mobile phone exports mostly to Africa and we who study history have suffered from inflation and dollar surges because we export way less than we import principally because we don’t produce but rather consume.
A population like consumes more that it produces is what validates the earlier debate that government should regulate birth to curb population explosion because it slugs a country’s economic growth by over dependence on the government to provide food, jobs and other social amenities.
If we adopted dualism as our education model, it would mean that a graduate of Mass Communication like myself would on top of my theoretical skills from McLuhan, I also possess practical skills in knitting or dairy farming and in the event that I don’t get into formal employment which is most likely to happen, I can retire to the farm or the workshop and get my hands dirty either not adding myself to the dependence burden of the country.
An active population does not depend on the economy but rather supplement it and no matter the number, that country will have unprecedented growth and this is what Uganda and Africa at large needs, dualism, an intermarriage of theory and practice.