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Experts push for change in education system

Environmental experts have called for a change in Uganda’s education system in order to serve the current global development needs.

While meeting at the 5th African Regional Centre of Expertise (RCE) conference held at Imperial botanical beach hotel in Entebbe recently, experts said that the traditional system of education was outdated as it only enabled people to get degrees.

“We are saying that in this new era of sustainable development, there are so many things which are changing; environment is changing, there is climate change. So, we cannot take business as usual,” said Paul Mafabi, the director environment affairs, ministry of Water and Environment.

Mafabi added that the country needed a pro-sustainable development education system that can easily meet the current market needs.

“We were taught many years ago that Uganda has good soils. So, if you continue teaching that in schools, people will grow thinking the soils are still the same yet things have changed; the soils are degraded,” he said.

The three-day conference organised under the theme: Building a stronger African RCE network for transforming lives and communities through Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) was hosted by the National Environment Management Authority (Nema) in collaboration with development partners.

According to Nema executive director Tom Okurut, government needs to concentrate on university education.

“The curriculum for primary education had integration of environment as part of the curriculum. The secondary curriculum has also been developed and is being tested. Now, we need to look the university because this is where we need critical thinking from graduates,” Okurut said.

Busitema University vice chancellor Mary Okwakol refuted claims that the creation of universities such as hers had killed vocational institutions tasked with imparting practical skills to Ugandans than producing degrees.

“When we were developing the curriculum, we mainstreamed environmental courses in the programmes we offer. We involved in various aspects of research projects aimed at solving the problems of the society,” Prof Okwakol said.

“We have maintained the same spirit of wanting to skill students.”

Okwakol, also Uneb chairperson, explained that programmes at some institutions have been reviewed to meet the requirements of the National Council for Higher Education.

The RCE conference serves as a platform for stakeholders to implement holistic Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) strategies to transform education approaches and address local sustainability and livelihood challenges.

Uganda has four RCE centres including Mbarara, Makerere, Ndejje and Busitema universities. The conference attracted environmentalists, scientists and politicians from countries such as Nigeria, Malawi, Kenya, Zambia, and Swaziland.

smusasizi@observer.ug

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