By Labak Janet, 2018 Cohort Vice President and Fellow
Since time immemorial, education has been a major part of human life. Progress has always been encouraged. However, the biggest question is whether our current education system has acted as a hindrance to learning, or if indeed it has caused learning to progress.
The Ugandan education system for as long as we can remember, has mostly been motivated by the promise of getting employment, after the whole formal education process is complete. Students are made to cram different works of science and art, previously researched on and written by some individuals. They are then tested on their ability to remember these notes, that have been pumped into their brains. The threat of failure and a dark future if they do not pass these tests, are constantly at the back of their minds. Many of these young people get out of the education system exhausted, demotivated, and still very clueless about what they want to be or do. On top of that, a number of them seem not to have been educated at all.
One of the major causes of this problem, is the way these young people have been taught. The main focus during teaching has been more about completing the syllabus, and therefore teaching has been more one sided, and not multifaceted like it ought to be. This so called syllabus many times, does not put into consideration the different gifts and talents of the individuals being taught. It also in many instances, has not considered that students need extra skills other than cramming ability, in order to succeed in this ever evolving world. The world is ever changing, and if you do not adapt yourself to the changes, you are in for a downward spiral.
We cannot ignore the efforts that have been undertaken by the media, certain non-government organisations, individuals, groups of individuals, and the private sector, in dealing with the issue of a half-baked young people. Some have taken it upon themselves to personally train these young people, in the extra skills they will need, in order to be all-rounded individuals. This has sometimes been through holiday scheduled programs for the youth, where they are taught social skills, and are also encouraged to pursue their areas of passion.
Certain non-government organisations organise graduate trainings, where they equip fresh graduates with skills to survive in the world outside school.
International schools are also doing a good job, in ensuring that they produce all-rounded students. In these schools, students are encouraged to pursue the things they are truly passionate about. Extra-curricular activities like sports, are given great consideration. Their syllabi are also incorporated with talent oriented subjects like music, dance and drama.
In order to deal with this issue, I propose a serious revision and if possible, an overhaul of the current education syllabi, right from kindergarten to the highest institution of learning. The new education syllabi should have consideration for individual abilities, gifts and talents. Albert Einstein is credited for the saying, “Everybody is a genius, but if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.”
I also propose an involvement of the young people in the restructuring of the syllabus. Who better to know what works best for them, than the major stakeholders?
The kind of teachers that train our young people, should also be reviewed. It is very important that these teachers are truly passionate about their job. Anyone that has a passion for what they do, usually goes the extra mile. Teachers with a passion for their job will therefore ensure that they do all they can, to see their students become not only excellent students, but also excellent individuals.
It is also vital, for students to be made to understand why they are in school. If someone does not really understand their reason for doing something, it is very likely for them to lack motivation and a sense of direction.
The government should also ensure that students have all the right resources and equipment, to enable them fully learn. Of what use is it for example, to study about a weather station, never having seen one, and only theoretically knowing about it? Learning theoretically about a camera, cannot make you an excellent photographer.
The young people, whether we want to believe it or not, are the future of our nation; of every nation, actually. If they are coming out of the school system unprepared, half-baked and not ready to impact our nation positively, then we have a big problem on our hands. We need to take this issue seriously and as priority, and deal with it in time, before its negative effects blow out of proportion.