Formal Education Will Make You a Living; Self-Education Will Bring You a Fortune


Emmanuel James “Jim” Rohn was an American entrepreneur, author and motivational speaker. Humanity will continue to remember him because of his eye-opening Quote – “Formal education will make you a living; self-education will bring you a fortune”. What does it mean? The education you get formally at school, if you are lucky, can only give you a job to survive. But the things you learn by yourself through self-education can bring you wealth.

In 2012, the Uganda Bureau of Statistics revealed that the rate of unemployed youth in the age bracket 18-30 was 65%. I am yet to know the current percentage. But I think it could be around 70% now because it has never gone down. It is, indeed, a worrying situation that requires concerted effort to address it.

Supplement the Formal Knowledge You Acquired at School with Self-Education

As government and social organisations devise means to address the rampant unemployment, let us look at it at the individual level. With the youth unemployment rates skyrocketing from time to time, there is one clear conclusion I can draw. Formal education has failed to provide the skills for the people to get employed in the modern-day workforce. What are your options if formal education fails to provide you with a living? 

The only other option I am sure that can get you out of this scenario is to look for the skills by yourself. In addition to the knowledge you acquired at school, you should teach yourself practical skills. This type of self-education is what is known as entrepreneurship. Did you know that all the wealthiest people in the entire world are entrepreneurs?

I think there is a reason why wealthy people worldwide are entrepreneurs. These people realised early that formal education has hard shortcomings. They, therefore, decided to look at life differently by getting their skills and starting their businesses.

Making Money Is Not Taught at School

making money

Making Money

There is no school where they teach you how to make money. All schools teach people so that they can be employable to earn a living. If you are lucky to get a job in government or an organisation, you can survive with the monthly salary you earn for years. But it will never give you a fortune. It will never make you wealthy. Now the question is, “How many Ugandans are lucky to get a job?”

Developing great business ideas comes from desire or passion and drive to succeed. Schools do not teach this kind of behaviour. From my personal experience, I did not get the skills I am using to survive today in any formal setting. I learned them through self-education. Secondly, starting my own business has taught me more practical knowledge than any book or lecture.

For instance, there is no book I read on making wedding cards. Making wedding cards may look easy, but it isn’t. It involves processes like cutting the paper with a machine, folding it, glueing it, designing the text card and adding card accessories to spice it up. Every step requires skill. You must get practical knowledge, and you get it through self-education.

Your time at school provides you with an excellent foundation to generate ideas and test them in your life. Why don’t you discover what you are passionate about and look for a way of making your passion a reality? If you already have an idea, take action to turn it into a reality. You cannot know how far to go unless you start the journey. But you can open up your opportunities to make money by working on your belief.

Hear What Jack Ma, the Wealthiest Man in China, Said!

Jack Ma

Jack Ma

If you put money and bananas in front of monkeys, they will choose bananas because monkeys do not know that money can buy more bananas”, said Jack Ma – founder of Alibaba. In reality, if you offer a job and business to most people in Uganda, they will choose a job because they do not know that the latter can bring more money than salaries. 

Though salaries can make you a living, they do not bring you a fortune. Instead, the profits you make from your business are what can make you wealthy. Do you know that?

Most Ugandans look for jobs after school instead of creating them. We do not blame them because our education system trains them for employment. But since formal education is failing to address the problem of unemployment, we then have to turn our minds to self-education. It requires a concerted effort from the government, civil society organisations, opinion leaders, teachers and parents. We all have to learn how to foster an entrepreneurial culture in our children so that they can start their businesses.

5 Ways to Acquire Self-Education



We cannot overlook the vital role formal education plays in any country’s development. It will never disappear because of its indisputable importance. But to enable ourselves to cope with today’s competitive world, where formal employment is becoming scarcer every year, we need to empower ourselves with additional skills through self-education. It is when the youth will be able to employ themselves.

I have identified five ways through which you can acquire self-education. They include:

  1. Developing a hands-on skill
  2. Getting a mentor
  3. Reading to get knowledge
  4. Getting exposure
  5. Starting a small business

#1 – Developing a Hands-on Skill

Practical Skill Learning

Practical Skill Learning

The skills you develop by yourself give you a fallback work option. Most graduates dismiss the hands-on skills we acquire from school as intellectually devoid. They are not. Do not undermine them! They can surely give you a fortune. Look at what pleases you. Think of what skills you have to do it. If you don’t have any expertise, my advice is to look for a way of acquiring that skill. Even if you have some skills, you may need additional practical skills to make your passion a reality.

#2 – Getting a Mentor



Most people have become wealthy by just emulating those they find helpful in fulfilling their dreams. Looking for a mentor is not all about getting someone. You have to find someone with similar strengths and skills you want to emulate. Establish a relationship with him so that he can help you to acquire the skills you need.

#3 – Reading to Get Knowledge

Read Get Knowledge

Read to Get Knowledge

There are skills you can get through reading a textbook, an eBook or something. For instance, I learnt web designing by buying an eBook for $65. I read it every day while practising every piece of practical information I read. After getting the basics, I then started designing It’s a website I created and managed by myself through self-education. It’s doing me wonders in getting customers.

In this world, you need to refresh yourself with new knowledge. That’s when you will achieve your dreams. You also need to re-engineer yourself with up-to-date information and technology. If not, you will be left behind.

#4 – Getting Exposure

Get Exposure

Get Exposure

Education is essential, but if you are only educated and not exposed, you may remain at what you acquired at school. Getting exposure is so vital that it empowers your creative mind. The onus is now on you to look for various ways of getting exposed to awaken your creative mind of doing things.

For instance, if you plan to become a passion fruit farmer, you may need to get exposure to the modern ways of growing them. Visiting successful passion fruit growers in the country or even abroad may be part of this exposure.

#5 – Starting a Small Business

Bakery Business

Bakery Business

Entrepreneurship depends much on self-education. To become an entrepreneur, you need to start a business. Most people wish to start their businesses, but they find it difficult. They fear to risk doing things they aren’t sure will give them a living. That alone hinders most people from venturing into business.

Others think that starting a business requires a lot of money. Most Ugandans will tell you they don’t have the capital to start a business. I think that’s the wrong approach because all the successful companies around us began with just a viable idea.

The most challenging thing in business is to get a viable idea, not make money. It is the reason why I advise people to forget to concentrate on thinking about money if they want to start businesses. When you focus on money first, you kill your initiative to develop your idea.

If you have a good idea, think about implementing it as soon as possible by starting a small business. We say this because you will gain practical, hands-on skills, knowledge, and information on how to expand your business along the way. If you do not start, you will never get it.

Secondly, if you wait to get the money you think is sufficient, you risk losing it because you lack the skills necessary to run a business. It is preferable to begin small and gradually expand your business.


I argue all Ugandans to acquire additional out-of-school skills through self-education. Relying on formal education alone is making many graduates remain unemployed. Most of them cannot get jobs in today’s workforce in government institutions. The job creation rate is so slow that most graduates will stay unemployed if they don’t acquire skills through self-education. Remember that formal employment can only give you a living, but self-education can bring you a fortune. What do you think?

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