OUR current education system shares a lot in common with a broiler chicken farm. On a broiler farm, the focus is on gaining market weight in the shortest time possible. To achieve this, nonessentials like space for exercise have to be forfeited.
Similarly, in most of our schools, the focus is on passing exams with flying colours. To achieve this, nonessentials like school gardens have to go, in most cases converted into construction sites for ultra-modern multi - storied classroom blocks. Extra-curricular activities like farming also have to be scrapped so that students focus on studies.
In higher institutions of learning, the bulk of students taking agriculture courses are rejects from more â€œseriousâ€ science courses like human medicine and engineering.
How do you expect a product of such an education system to appreciate farming as a noble profession? How do you convince them that a veterinary doctor is as important as a human doctor?
Is it any wonder that more than 90% of agriculture professionals who graduate every year end up in urban centres vending animal drugs and other agro inputs instead of going deep in rural areas where their services are most needed?
Why are we shocked by the exodus of youth from rural areas to urban centres to eke out a marginal living as bodaboda riders and road side chapati sellers?
One of the reasons why Ugandaâ€™s agriculture sector is performing poorly is because it is treated as a reservoir for failures from other sectors.
One way we can change this attitude is to get the youth interested in farming at an early age.
While taking over office in Entebbe last week, new agriculture minister Tress Bucanayandi lamented about the demise of Young Farmers Clubs, which once played a key role in getting the youth interested in farming. He promised to revive these clubs so that they help groom young farmers who are passionate about the profession, to replace the human medicine and engineering rejects who are currently managing the sector.
The minister needs to sit down with his education counterpart, to create time and space for farming in the school system. Lack of time and space is a lame excuse. How much time or space do you need to set up a sack garden? And what about the space on the roof of those multi-storied classroom blocks?
From the Editor: Revive young farmersâ€™ clubs in schools