By Jude Ssempebwa
HONOURABLE Minister and Inspector General of Police, cases and threats against coaching have been so numerous in the media that one is tempted to think of the practice as unconditionally bad.
Unfortunately, most editorials on the practice do not sufficiently recognise the circumstances that have necessitated it.
This therefore, is to write in defence of coaching, so that it will be clear to the sceptics, that it is a contemporary educational need, especially during the holidays.
My initial thoughts are that your anti-coaching attitude is consequent upon the law, criminalising the practice, which is unfortunate because the law is bad. Contrary to the basic qualities of good laws, it is not necessary, just or effectively enforceable as I will illustrate shortly.
Coaching is giving students extra teaching lessons. This is why I am yet to be convinced on the necessity of a law against it. I dare you to draw a line between teaching and extra teaching. In many boarding schools, there are night lessons (extras).
Similarly, well-off parents, including officers of your departments, hire teachers to offer extra lessons to their children in the privacy of their homes and the law is quiet.
Where then is the justice in the same law when it criminalises the act of a day school having holiday lessons or of students choosing to see a teacher at a time and place they find appropriate, often with the informed support of the parents?
That coaching is bad, is a rhetorical allegation. In fact, it may be argued that it is good because: 1) it increases guided-study time. 2) Allows more student-centred instruction, which is dwindling in the institutionalised classroom, and 3) Students have access to upscale teachers, including UNEB setters and markers.
I am, therefore, afraid that the anti-coaching law is based on myths rather than truths.
Myths and Truths about Coaching
Substantiating this necessitates statistics on higher education failure rates that incriminate coaching. Otherwise, having been coached since nursery did not keep me from earning a good degree.
Implicating the system
That coaching is a necessary condition for exhausting the ever widening syllabus is a truism.
It is my prayer, therefore, that you either encourage the practice (and possibly allow for registration of teachers who coach in accordance with relevant laws), or introduce a system in which teaching is clearly distinguished from extra teaching and the latter is not a condition for success.
The writer is a teacher