I was reminded on a boda ride this morning about the thick layer of challenges impeding development in Uganda. If we are working in education as a means to reduce poverty, create independence and for social justice, then education alone is not a guarantee that a person can find a good job in their industry.
My boda rider today has a university degree in business and administration, he also holds a certificate in social work. He had worked for a little after graduating, he had a one-year contract with an NGO but the obstacles were too great afterwards in getting another job in his field. And what was his biggest hurdle? Bribery. He narrated to me how a friend of his had paid 1.5million shillings (£300 pounds, $550AUS) after an interview with a large NGO to secure the job. He did earn a little more than that as a monthly salary afterwards, but that was the payment to get the job.
And we’re not talking about the public sector here, people at the top of charities and NGOs are asking for bribes before selecting their future employee.
I wasn’t shocked about this since I had heard countless stories about these situations, I guess this morning was a reminder.
I then questioned the intricacies of this bribery. So… what happens if I go for an interview and I give 500,000 Ugandan shillings and someone else also gives 500,000?
Interesting answer from my boda: You wouldn’t just give 500,000; if you were asked to give 500,000 you would give 1million to make sure your payment was the highest and to get the job. But if you didn’t give the highest figure, you don’t get that money back, no receipt and no record of what happens in secret.
And would my boda partake in this bribery to get a good job? Of course he would… he just didn’t have the access to money to do so. So people born into rich families secure the high-paying jobs and stay there; contributing to the cyclical continuation of poverty.
And there’s another element to the ‘know-who’ he spoke about. People in high-paying jobs, he said, leave their jobs for relatives. I guess how we would hear of father’s passing down farms to relatives, here employees in high-paying positions are making sure that a relative will succeed them. “It’s a way of making sure that money will keep coming into their family.”
One challenge we have no control or influence over, but one challenge to pray over…