By Brenda Mpaka Kagoro
The current education system in Uganda is structured in a manner that is burdensome to children. The demands of learning, which are already quite exacting in primary, worsen in secondary school, where children bear unreasonable expectations to excel.
In today’s Uganda, academic excellence is all about high marks and good grades-regardless of the means applied to excel-rather, than the acquisition of essential skills and holistic knowledge. There is cut-throat completion among schools, especially those which have so many years conquered the academic terrain, premised on the insatiable desire of always being first and best.
The pressure emanating from this rivalry weighs heavily on the children who view education as a sport where they are at liberty to breathlessly out compete each other rather than a plat form to acquire knowledge. The children are programmed to pass exams, especially through cramming, with the least appeal made to their desire of comprehensive learning.
Children are increasingly finding it hard to enjoy their childhood; because the huge amount of homework and assignments curtails whatever little time they would have to themselves. This affects their psychological orientation since they lack enough playing and resting time. Moreover, they only read what they are told to; a setting that negates their creativity and impairs their ability to make independent choices.
Something should be done for the betterment of school children, lesser homework should be given to them so that they are left with adequate time to relax and attend to other chores, if any. Schools should not only concentrate on preparing children to passing exams alone but should also endeavour to impact life skills like teaching them the virtues of self-control and taking responsibility for their own actions, which am sure would deter the tendency to be defensive while blaming others for their own actions.
Nursery and primary education has become unreasonably expensive. A few schools, which have dominated the academic circles are constantly raising the bar for the tuition fees. These schools take advantage of the urban snobbery culture which is gradually getting engraved in our society.
Paradoxically, the crowded schools are the ones that are most expensive, yet one would expect otherwise. Why would a parent choose to ignore a suitable school in the neighborhood because it bears a small name and instead rush to a prominent but expensive and overcrowded school with wanting facilities?
Unknown to us, these schools, where we all want to put our babies eventually get congested and as a result our children do not get enough attention from the teachers and the facilities have to be shared by many children.
We are sacrificing the brain development of our children at the altar of trendy schools where all the children of the “posh” people go. I agree that education is extremely important for children, also think fun and being a child is just as important, but they never seem to get much time to do this anymore, which is sad.
We need to save for the future of the children and the nation. We also need to prevent the nation from training tired children who end up hating school. The world cannot only produce people who get quadruple “As”. So we should turn away from the belief that all our children should appear in the newspapers. We all have talents in different fields, for example Kiprotich didn’t get triple “As” when he appeared in the newspapers. We should try hard to discover the talents our children have and develop them and avoid putting too much pressure on them for excelling in academics alone. “A too much stretched string becomes strong up to a certain limit, after that it breaks”.
The writer is an educationist