This was step in the right direction since research from donors had showed that investment in lower education produced more returns to the economy than investment in Higher education.
Ismail Lukwago Ntegana
I was in Primary Seven at Bright Grammar Boarding Primary School Nyendo Masaka, when the government of Uganda begun the implementation of Universal Primary Education (UPE).
This was step in the right direction since research from donors had showed that investment in lower education produced more returns to the economy than investment in Higher education. Besides no community can develop without focusing on human resource development.
In the far East it believed that if a community wants prosperity within a year, such society should invest in grains and if the need is to prosper in ten years the investment should be in trees but if the community desires prosperity for centuries, the investment should be in people.
This explains the rapid developments in most South Asian countries like Singapore, South Korea, Japan and others with little or no natural resources compared to African or Middle East countries. The only resource these countries have is their education systems that have produced the human resource that these countries desire. I therefore find the talk of achieving the middle class status in the near future as wishful thinking with kind of education.
As we celebrate 20 years of UPE, we need as country to have a sober analysis of its successes and challenges no matter our political inclinations. The enrolment has increased granted but does quantity build bridges and carry out heart surgeries?
The government officials probably because majority come from cattle keeping background celebrate quantity, increase in enrolment, buildings constructed while the opposition will critic these but without giving relevant alternatives. The government is more interested in physical parameters for purely political reasons. Most of the public schools in my native Masaka are dead and so are those that were in Kampala city.
The same people who attended these schools have presided over their death. Can pupil in Luwero C/U qualify to attend Buddo or Ndejje Secondary School?? Can these officials send their children to the schools they attended? Just because you can afford private education, don't dare think you or your children are safe. The biggest challenge to all African governments is not their respective opposition leaders but youth unemployment and underemployment, lack of equal opportunity for all.
The 20 years of UPE have killed the public education sector in this country. The private sector that sprung up to fill the gap left by the decaying public sector is so exploitive and naïve. The individuals are training our children into robotics. These kids have no life skills at all. Their main concern is to make as much many from us as possible.
They will cheat us given any possible opportunity. The media has helped them, every time examination results are released, schools and ignorant parents rush to media houses to have their children published so that the schools are praised and more kids are bound to join such schools the next term with increased tuition. Our children have become grade producing machines but unable to live their lives after school.
Our children are not prepared to learn to succeed. Most of the students from these private institutions cannot communicate both orally and in written form; they cannot think critically, can never collaborate or work together and are neither creative.
Education is now given only to the rich, children of the rich will attend "good" primary schools where they are coached for Seven years, examined in a poor manner, join another system that is only favourable to them and after six years these join the University and after university you expect them to steer this country to greater heights??!! What joke??!! How can people who can't manage themselves manage others? No wonder we are experiencing a scandal both in public and private sector week in week out. A bank is audited by reputable company but it turns out the audit report was after all fake or faked.
The higher number of secondary school graduates prompted the liberation of University education and it is now a must that each family must have a university graduate no matter what course they have undertaken and from which university.
In Uganda it is common to find a university smaller than a secondary school and each student must graduate as long as they have paid tuition. No wonder politicians prefer attending such. And our government officials are proud to tell us the number of universities and not the number of discoveries and research these universities are carrying out. Instead of focusing on knowledge accumulation and use we spend time discussing quantity. No country has ever developed because of Quantity but rather quality.
The writer is a lecturer at the International University of East Africa Kampala.