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Why have we left our education system to collapse?

I was in primary seven at Bright Grammar Boarding primary school in Masaka when the government of Uganda began the implementation of Universal Primary Education (UPE).

This was a step in the right direction since research from donors had showed that investment in lower education produced more returns to the economy than investment in higher education. Besides, no community can develop without focusing on human resource development.

In the Far-East, it is believed that if a community wants prosperity within a year, such society should invest in grains; if the need is to prosper in ten years, the investment should be in trees; but if the community desires prosperity for centuries, the investment should be in people.

This explains the rapid developments in some Asian countries such as Singapore, South Korea, Japan and others with little or no natural resources compared to African or Middle East countries. The only resource these countries have is their education systems that have produced the human resource that they desire.

I, therefore, find the talk of achieving the middle-income status in the near future as wishful thinking with this kind of education. As we celebrate 20 years of UPE, we need, as a country, to have a sober analysis of its successes and challenges, no matter our political inclinations.

The enrolment has increased, but does quantity build bridges and perform heart surgeries?

Because some of our leaders come from cattle-keeping communities, they spend most time celebrating quantity, increase in enrolment, buildings constructed while the opposition criticizes everything without giving relevant alternatives.

The government is more interested in physical parameters for purely political reasons. Most of the public schools in my native Masaka are dead and so are those that were in Kampala.

The same people who attended these schools have pre- sided over their death. Can a pupil in Luweero C/U primary school qualify to attend Buddo or Ndejje secondary schools? Can these officials send their children to the schools they attended?

Just because you can afford private education, don’t dare think you or your children are safe. The biggest challenge to all African governments is not their respective opposition leaders, but youth unemployment and underemployment, and lack of equal opportunity for all.

The 20 years of UPE have killed the public education sector in this country. The private sector that sprung up to fill the gap left by the decaying public schools is so exploitive and naïve. The proprietors, most of who have no background in education, are training our children into robots.

These children have no life skills at all. Their main concern is to make as much money from parents as possible. The media has helped them.

Every time examination results are released, schools and ignorant parents rush to media houses to have their children published so that the schools are praised; and more children are bound to join such schools the next term with increased tuition!

Our children have become grade-producing machines that are unable to live their lives after school. Most learners from these private institutions cannot communicate orally and in written form; they cannot think critically, can never collaborate or work together and are not creative.

Children of the rich will attend ‘good’ primary schools where they are coached for seven years, examined in a poor manner and join another system that is only favourable to them.

After six years, they join university and thereafter they are expected to steer this country to greater heights! What a joke! How can people who can’t manage themselves manage others? No wonder we are experiencing scandals both in public and private sector week in, week out.

A bank is audited by a reputable company but it turns out the audit report was fake or faked. The higher number of secondary school graduates prompted the liberalisation of university education and it is now an unwritten law that each family must have a university graduate, no matter what course they have undertaken and from which university.

In Uganda, it is common to find a university smaller than a secondary school and each student must graduate as long as they have paid tuition. No wonder politicians prefer attending such.

And our government officials are proud to tell us the number of universities, and not the number of discoveries and type of research these institutions are carrying out.

Instead of focusing on knowledge accumulation and use, we spend time discussing quantity. In my experience, not many countries, if any, have ever developed because of quantity; it is always about quality.

Lecturer, International University of East Africa, Kampala.


+1 #1 Didaz 2017-08-09 12:24
Ismail,You have been critical of the Education system in Uganda.

You have pointed out facts. Sadly you did not provide an alternative on how to improve the failing Education system. You came across as prejudiced.You should see beyond politics and tribe on National matters.

I think that an Education system which is aimed at serving the needs of a Country requires continuous evaluation.

This helps to meet for example a growing population,current and future needs of productivity.

Its not just about Inspectorate but having robust Quality Evaluation Systems QES if you lik in place at all levels of Education.

In most instances the argumentl comes down to funding and in Uganda's situation corruption and the later.This has to change.
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0 #2 ogwetta santa penten 2017-08-10 14:47
SPOT ON. I work with a bunch of USE fellows and they are really a pain.

Most do not know/believe in systems, they just want the short cut!

How do we reach the middle income with such high Gang index?
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0 #3 Akot 2017-08-10 14:51
Didaz, agreed, yet,

Museveni MUST first be thrown out otherwise he is more at ease-more protected if Ugandans are uneducated & out of present world!

Developed countries are at pain with job creation because they did not take the advance of technology seriously & are not able to cope with it - technology taking jobs while more migrants seek education with them! Reducing workign hours & employing more young coming out of training/school will help, but increasing working ours & retirement age!

After all technology is to reduce working hours & pain & make people have more time to raise kids-rest..., right?

Yet, Ugandans must bring change & put in place the kind of governance they want so that they have chance to be part of today world too!

Museveni is comfortable & is manoeuvring his way to own Uganda constitutionally or otherwise!
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0 #4 Akot 2017-08-10 14:59
It's time Ugandans wake up because it's not our education any more but that of museveni & it will be as he wishes!

Which conqueror-dictator would want educated population to challenge him?

Why did museveni restore tribal rules?

If Ugandans don't Unite to bring change, museveni will just go on & own the country completely, it's just a matter of time now!

Yet, Ugandans are the last to be aware of museveni's intentions & we just go along helping him throw us ALL out of even tribal lands!

Second Independence for Uganda is overdue & where is the National Leadership so much needed before we are all made migrants in Uganda?
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0 #5 Ensi eno! 2017-08-10 16:45
Many thanks Ismail, this is spot on!

Until Ugandans Wake up and realize that mere passing exams is nothing, we shall continue to go down as other countries prosper.

I like this too "Because some of our leaders come from cattle-keeping communities, they spend most time celebrating quantity, increase in enrolment, buildings constructed"
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0 #6 Lakwena 2017-08-11 12:14
Ismail Lukwago, you are on the money. It is not just about leaving the education system to collapse; it is M7/NRM deliberate criminal negligence.

I have always maintained that whatever M7/NRM does; only has propaganda value, therefore disguised sabotage. Thank God he blurted it out on the 26th January 2017 that he is nobody's servant or employee.

In other words, if e.g., in the 50s and 60s, non of the schools Mr. M7 went to were under the trees, why, today in 21st Century, under his 31-year leadership; should thousands of Ugandan children, still study under shrubs/trees?

It means, thru dubious and populist policy like the UPE and USE, Mr. M7 wants to reduce the majority of Ugandans into manipulable, exploitable destitute and/or dispossessed servitude.
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