By Andrew Masinde
Formal education was first initiated by Voluntary Missionary Organisations in Uganda during the colonial times around the
From 1925, the Government started controlling education, which was expanded rapidly during the 1950s and 1960s.
One of Uganda’s educators, Geraldine Namirembe Bitamazire, says in the past, more emphasis in education was on Arabic since it was used as the main mode of communication on matters of the state, and many schools taught Swahili which was the mode of communication by the upper classes.
Bitamazire says strong emphasis on the equality of education for all people was pointed out by the Castle Commission of (1963), which argued for raising standards of agriculture, and technical education, expansion of girls’ education, and provision of adult education.
“I was lucky because I was born in a home were education was valued and I remember walking for close to fi ve kilometres going to school. We were only 90 children in the whole school with only 13 girls.
She revealed that in the 1950s pupils had to study for six years of primary there after one could qualify to go to junior school and a child spent three years, then qualifi ed for senior schools were they also spent three years.
Between the early 1980s and 1990s, emphasis on educational policy was largely a general recovery and rehabilitation of educational facilities and manpower to restore functional capacity.
This was the position in 1924 when the Second African Education commission appointed under the auspices of the Phelps-stokes-fund revised the syllabus to accommodate agriculture, carpentry, pottery, iron work, brick laying, building and typewriting.
Bitamazire says students started taking four-years instead of a three-year course and thereafter the completion of the elementary school courses.
The majority of the children were to return to their villages basically to be absorbed in agriculture. She adds that fouryear
middle school course were rearranged, and in conjunction with the junior secondary school course that took two years formed a preliminary course that prepared them for the Cambridge School Certifi cate.
The examination was done basically after a further three-year course at Makerere College. On completion of the course,
trained students were allowed to start up their own farms or seek employment as managers.
In 1964 changes in education went on as in the previous years and more effort was put in to effect the recommendations of
the Education Commission of the previous year. As a result of the changes and implementations of the recommendations, the cost of education went up higher than the previous year.
In 1963, it was decided to abolish the posts of Mission School supervisors, and to centralise the whole work in Area Education Offi ces.
The purpose of doing this was twofold: fi rst to eradicate duplication of services and to economise, secondly to encourage
integration of schools.
After the Primary Leaving Examination, a student joined junior secondary school and was to sit for the Junior Leaving Secondary Examination.
“Secondary Modern were also introduced and they had three levels of teacher training that included Grade 11 that prepared teachers for the fi rst six years of schooling and the entry standard was the junior school II level (i.e. after eight year of basic education) and the training lasts for four years.
Connie Kateeba the director curriculum development Centre says the education system that existed in the past was different from the education today.
“Today practicals are done in classrooms, but not in the fi eld that is why many students finish school without knowing how to apply the skills in the fi eld, yet in the old days practicals were done in the fi eld and it was hands-on” Kateeba adds.
“Education those days had a lot of interesting subjects such as physical education which is in the curriculum
today but it is not put into practice, we had needle work, cookery and farming and this made us very practical. That is why you cannot compare a child of today with us the people who attended education in the past,” Kateeba adds.
Kateeba says schools in the past were closely supervised which made teachers work hard because they knew any time inspectors would come to supervise.
Today, no one minds whether the schools are performing well or not. Some think that this is killing the education
system to day not to be good.
Kateeba also adds that the education today has a lot of pressure were students have no time for themselves yet in the past students were very relaxed because they had less hours at school, but today a lot of time is spent in school something
that stresses students.
Hillary Nsambu, a senior journalist who, enjoyed education in the 1930s, says the education system today is different from the education of the past because today education is not that practical yet in the past it was purely practical.
He adds that in the past he never remembers students spending most of their time in books revising like it is today.
“I never revised my books like the way I see my grandchildren do today, they never have time to relax and rest their brains which I thing declines their ability to understand because they revise to pass not to understand which was not the case in the past so sincerely education has changed and if I am to compare out days education was far better that the education today."