6 February 2018

Uganda: Politician? Not Me - I'd Rather Be a Doctor

Politics may be the most popular job among Ugandan adults, as it is among the best paying, but among schoolgoing children aged between seven and 11, it is very unpopular.

A study that asked children across the country on their aspirations and then listed their top 10 preferred occupations found that politics was least aspirational.

Of the 420 children interviewed for the study titled Drawing the Future, only one per cent of girls in Masindi district said they wanted to become politicians.

But 58 per cent want to become teachers or lecturers, 21 per cent hope to be nurses or village health workers, while 8 per cent aspire to become doctors.

Another 10 per cent of the girls chose police, driver/haulier, soldier/firefighter or fashion model as their preference.

For boys, the top 10 sought were driver/haulier (28 per cent), police officer (20 per cent), teacher/lecturer (16 per cent) and doctor (5 per cent).

A minority, 3 per cent, said they wanted to go into the army, navy, airforce or firefighting/air force or sports. Others cited engineering or retail sales as their preferred careers. Politics did not make it among the top jobs for boys.

Personal experience

In the developing world, job aspirations are shaped by personal encounters, and family members have little contribution. Some 80 per cent of Ugandan children choose careers based on personal experience and encounters with people in public.

Ronalds Baguma, operations manager at Redearth Education Uganda, which works with children to improve their critical thinking ability, said they asked the children to draw their aspirations and the pictures were included in the report.

According to the report by Education and Employers, a UK-based charity, a similar study was conducted in the United Kingdom, Australia, Belarus, Bangladesh, China, Columbia, Indonesia, Pakistan, Romania, Russia, Switzerland, Zambia and seven other countries.

Professional aspirations

It found that children from developing countries have more practical and higher professional ambitions whereas for those in the developed world, celebrity culture, careers in sports, social media and gaming shaped aspirations.

The researchers found that the aspirations of children aged between 7 and 11 are largely similar to those of 17-year olds.

The authors found that gender types, family backgrounds and television culture impacted children's aspirations. For this, the report urges financiers of education to invest in providing role models, as failure to do so has real implications for social mobility among children from poor backgrounds.

Gender stereotyping

The study also found that gender stereotyping was pervasive, with more girls choosing caregiving careers like teaching or medicine, while the boys chose more physical pursuits.

"Conceptions of traditional femininity, specifically ideas around 'nurturing' or 'caring' roles, may explain the difference in the number of girls wanting to become a teacher or doctor compared to boys," the report says.

It also found that gender stereotyping starts at a young age and remains over time, as 17-year-olds have similar aspirations.

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