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There is need to review our education system

By Vision Reporter

Added 31st March 2009 03:00 AM

Everyone in the country and even those outside who have ever experienced a balanced education about 25-30 years ago are in pain over what is happening in the education sphere. Some of them like me, are asking what Uganda’s future is to be.

Everyone in the country and even those outside who have ever experienced a balanced education about 25-30 years ago are in pain over what is happening in the education sphere. Some of them like me, are asking what Uganda’s future is to be.

By Rhoda Kalema

Everyone in the country and even those outside who have ever experienced a balanced education about 25-30 years ago are in pain over what is happening in the education sphere. Some of them like me, are asking what Uganda’s future is to be.

President John F. Kennedy of the US is known to have said in 1962; “A mis-educated child is a lost child”. Since this statement cannot be easily refuted, then we should mourn the future of our country. It can be a lost country and this shall affect every single Ugandan, present and the unborn. It is a hard fact.

I would like to reflect on several aspects that I have observed, which will bring doom to our education sector, unless a review is done immediately and aggressively.

Education syllabus
The current education syllabus should be reviewed particularly to suite Universal Primary Education (UPE) and Universal Secondary Education (USE), but also for normal planning.

The Ministry of Education should invite retired and current educationists for consultations, also the non governmental organisations with the Youth Development Programmes could be consulted. The education syllabus development, most importantly needs experienced and interested persons in this field and not only the appointed civil servants and technocrats.

Promotion of students
The education minister, Geraldine Namirembe Bitamazire, directed that students should be automatically promoted but this should be carefully reconsidered so as not to compromise our education standards.

Vocational/technical courses
The reviewed syllabus should focus a lot on the vocational and technical education, to give the young skills alongside the academic learning. Teach the young people skills and they will never be lost children.

This would call for the Government to improve on the few available vocational institutions, build many new and modern ones, create regional vocational and technical instructors training colleges. Only then can parents and the children be encouraged to choose to train for vocational skills as a good alternative to straight academic studies. The redundancy among the young is too painful.

Teacher training colleges
Training colleges for national and primary teacher training were sometime back reduced, then the intake was reduced further, the facilities were also reduced, then many of those trained were never placed on the ministry’s pay roll for years.

Then at one time about 3,500 or 350 were crossed off the pay roll (shortly after they were reinstated, so we read.)

Now many teachers teach in several private schools, while many have abandoned teaching. Can Uganda be a lost country?

Classroom buildings
Despite the Government’s intention for a big programme of building classroom blocks, these have not been satisfactorily done.

Buildings are never constructed to the required standards because of corruption and irresponsibility. All this is done in the name of development through the UPE and later USE programmes.

Science teaching as crucial
The Government has, for some years, declared a policy to emphasise the teaching of science subjects for secondary education. However, the education ministry knows very well that the science laboratories are lacking in most schools. The press reported that 1,750 schools lack science laboratories. This needs no debate. Science teaching without laboratories is a fallacy. So, unless the Government commits itself to building and equipping science laboratories in schools, Ugandans cannot be impressed by its stressing the importance of sciences.

Teachers’ houses
Teachers’ sleeping accommodation should be a major Government project, and these houses should be close to schools. The Government needs to invest heavily to house teachers as best as possible, for effective teaching.

Abrupt teacher transfers
Transferring teachers without warning and allowing enough time for those affected to make a smooth hand-over, is a negative exercise on a new school year. It is also inconsiderate and inhumane on the teachers and their families. Little wonder we read recently that a Mwiri teacher committed sucide due to abrupt transfer.

School lunch meals
The directive of the President and encouraged by the education minister to stop parents from paying their children’s school lunch is difficult to comprehend. Many parents wish their children to have a school planned lunch which they can pay for. Why then stop a parent from feeding his/her child? And why stop a headteacher and his staff their role to plan school meals for their students?

Is it correct that some teachers have been interdicted due to insisting on providing school meals? I propose that the education ministry consults school bodies on the food matter. Bodies like the board of governors and parents teachers associations, in addition to headteachers.

These bodies are the ones that assist the ministry to run the schools. The Government should include school lunch in the UPE and USE grant, this is what developed countries do.

The double shift system
The New Vision October 17, 2008, reported that the education minister defends this system.

If the double shift system is implemented, it is bound to worsen the already disastrous level of education. Under the prevailing circumstances, no sane educationist can accept double shift. Consider the time of students travelling to school by 5:00am for the morning shift. And reaching home earliest 9:00pm for the afternoon shift, with no breakfast and no lunch for most of them, plus the traffic jam and the cost of transport. It seems an absurd plan.

What we need is the Government to devote a sizeable portion of the budget to education in 2009-2010, construct double, and triple floor classrooms in the present schools. Only then will our education syetem be on the right track.

For God and my Country.

The writer is an educationist working in Kiboga

There is need to review our education system

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