THE quality of products from Ugandan schools is increasingly coming under scrutiny with employers calling for reform in the curriculum to meet the market demands. As a result, parents with the means are increasingly looking at other options than local schools.
and Angela Ndagano
THE quality of products from Ugandan schools is increasingly coming under scrutiny with employers calling for reform in the curriculum to meet the market demands.
â€œIt is frustrating to employ a first class degree holder who cannot deliver at the basic level â€” work ethics, communication skills and creativity,â€ a manager in a communications company says.
â€œWhat we do now is look at candidatesâ€™ Oâ€™ Level English grades, even though they may not have a degree, and then we train them,â€ he adds.
He attributes the quality of graduates to the quality of primary education. â€œIt is now all about getting a 4 in P.7. Parents pay huge moneys for children to get 4, it doesnâ€™t matter that the children do not read anything else except textbooks. In the end, you have very narrow-minded adults.â€
As a result, parents with the means are increasingly looking at other options than local schools.
Fred Mutebi, a parent of a two-year-old daughter, is a strong believer in an international education. â€œI value a strong foundation in education. I am already working hard to make sure my daughter accesses the best education,â€ Mutebi says.
Adrin Asingwire believes that the freedom that international schools give children helps them to be disciplined. â€œWhen I reached university, I didnâ€™t have the excitement most girls have. I had learnt to manage my freedom in high school.â€
Having attended an international school, Flavia Lanyero says: â€œGoing through Kabojja really boosted my confidence. By the time I left the school, I was ready to face the world,â€ Flavia says.
Why international schools?
Many parents with the means believe that taking their children to an international school is the best thing they can do for their children. International schools offer a wider variety of education and childrenâ€™s interests are traced early.
â€œMy eight-year-old sister already knows what she wants to be in future,â€ explains Alex, whose sister is a beneficiary of international schools. In international schools, the attention teachers give to children is something parents should opt for.
Sheila Agonzibwa, a parent, says the teacher-to-pupil ratio is what inspired her to take her child to an international school. â€œThe child is able to get enough attention. In my daughterâ€™s class, they are only 12.â€ This is a far cry from the perennial congestion in most of our schools where a teacher may handle 200 children in a class, she says.
Your child will not only access the teacher easily, but she may end up a superstar like it happened to Peter Miles and Eric Wainana, households names in the music industry. Miles, a local artist, credits his music career to Kabojja International School. â€œThe school gave me freedom to concentrate on what I could do best,â€ Miles says.
Rachel Emasu, who moved from an international school to a government one, is against corporal punishment, which is rampant in local schools. â€œIt was so hard to adjust to caning. I was used to detention in my former school,â€ she says.
Why parents may fail to take children to an International School
Most parentsâ€™ dream of a quality education often remains just that â€” a dream, because the schools do not target the ordinary kind of parent. They have a target market and their key selling point is exclusivity, noted Kevin Oâ€™Connor, the principal of Brookhouse, an international school in Nairobi.
On its website, Kampala International School has a special offer for parents who pay their own fees. The school charges $6000 to $8000 (about sh9m to sh13.2m) per year for 11 to 17-year-olds, payable in three installments.
A mini survey by Education Vision showed that most of the parents who take children to international schools have businesses.
Apart from investing in business, new insurance policies have been set up to allow parents educate their children stress-free. An example is the education policy ran by the Insurance Company of East Africa (ICEA).
Under their life policy, parents pay a monthly contribution called a premium to insure their childrenâ€™s education. The premium is determined by the sum insured of money a parent will want the child to access in a given time.
â€œIf you want your child to get fees worth sh100m in a 17-year span, then you can pay a premium of about sh200,000 per month,â€ says Mike Onayang, an agent at ICEA. The sum insured attracts an interest of 5% per year. â€œParents choose the level at which a child should benefit, which determines the policy term,â€ Onayang added.
Tumuhaise, an insurer, believes that the premium charged to secure enough money for your child may be out of reach for most parents. â€œIt means that parents have to pay a premium of sh1m per month if they have to accumulate enough money to pay for one child. I have three children, which comes to around sh3m per month. How do I meet all this?â€ he muses.
Parents can also save for their childrenâ€™s education. Local banks, however, do not provide direct school fees facilities for parents. Parents have to make use of the different accounts to save money for schools fees.
Standard Chartered Bank offers a Safari savings account, to help clients save for a good future.
Gayaza Junior Schoolâ€™s Margaret Kibuuka, says local schools cannot afford the facilities international schools offer. â€œBut even with what we have,â€ she adds, â€œwe can still give our pupils enough skills to make them survive.â€
Ntinda View College proprietor, Higenyi, however, says they have the facilities to offer quality education.
How to afford an international school education