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Open education school brings public on board

By Vision Reporter

Added 27th November 2005 03:00 AM

FROM the 1989 Government White Paper on Education to the latest National Council for Higher Education reports, Uganda’s university and tertiary education system has been described as elitist.

FROM the 1989 Government White Paper on Education to the latest National Council for Higher Education reports, Uganda’s university and tertiary education system has been described as elitist.

By Stephen Ssenkaaba

FROM the 1989 Government White Paper on Education to the latest National Council for Higher Education reports, Uganda’s university and tertiary education system has been described as elitist.

The university curriculum has been described as too theoretical and detached from the communities.

There is a call for the general overhaul of the higher curriculum to make it more practical and responsive to community needs.
In pursuit of this, Uganda Martyrs’ University, Nkozi, has decided to take up the challenge. The university has set up what it has dubbed the African School of Open Education (ASOE), aimed at fighting poverty in rural areas.

The school, under the auspices of the African Volunteers Association (AVA), a limited liability company engaged in poverty eradication among poor communities, is trying to make tertiary education more practical, relevant and closer to the people at the grassroots.

The school is already offering vocational training in bricklaying, electrical installation, plumbing, construction and tailoring to school drop-outs at its satellite branch in Nyamitanga Technical Institute, Mbarara.

The school will officially be launched on Saturday, December 3, 2005. The Minister of Local Government, Prof. Tarsis Kabwegyere, is expected to officiate at the ceremony.

Under the programme, learners will be helped to identify their areas of interest and this will be used to improve what they know, says Fr. Dr. Peter Kanyandago, the deputy Vice-Chancellor, Nkozi University.

“We are planning to establish outreach units in different parts of the country, although the main coordinating centre will be Mbarara. Through these units we will organise face-to-face workshops with the communities to discuss different topics.

“We will ask for their views and use these very views to design programmes, which we shall then pass on to the communities for implementation,” adds Kanyandago, who is also the AVA board chairperson.

Kanyandago says they would like to promote education that is practice-oriented. “Our curriculum will involve vocational and technical elements as well as courses on poverty eradication.

We will have programmes leading to academic awards at diploma and certificate level,” he says, adding that there shall also be outreach units to train people who do not qualify for academic awards.

Kanyandago says ASOE’s main objective is to link education directly to the experiences of the people through voluntarism and a practice-oriented education system.

He says they shall particularly focus on developing indigenous knowledge and being science-rooted in African values in areas of sustainable agriculture, herbal medicine and others.

He also says the school will combine learning, training and research.

“In the latter case, emphasis will be on food technology, African medicine and renewable energy,” says Kanyandago.

The initiative was coined in 1998 when Nkozi hosted an international conference on poverty eradication.

During the conference, delegates proposed to start an education institution that would contribute towards the eradication of poverty.

They observed that there was need for collaboration between the state, NGOs, communities and the church in the fight against poverty in Uganda.

This is a good training model that would go a long way in poverty reduction if adopted by other universities and tertiary institutions.

Open education school brings public on board

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