By Matsiko Kahunga
Our leaders do tell us that the future of Uganda is in industrialization. So if we envisage Uganda being a South Korea 30 years from today, what type of education will give us the skill-mix that we will need?
How it came to my mind
As the presidential election 2016 campaign gained tempo, Monitor Publications Ltd invited Ugandans to tell readers what they would do in the first 100 days, if they were to be elected president. My opinion came inform of a presidential speech, marking the 100th day in office and among the key achievements was the suspension and eventual rejection of the new secondary school curriculum. And last week, Parliament did Ugandans proud by suspending the implementation of the curriculum.
Biggest flaw of the new curriculum
Rightly argued, one of its biggest flaws was the amorphous generic nomenclature of the subjects, notably the natural sciences. In other words, certain subjects would no longer be studied and referred to by their specific appellation but rather the amorphous name: ‘Science Learning’ area. These subjects include:
- Chemistry and
True, we appreciate we are in the era of ‘dilution’ where everything has become casual, but we need limits to this.
The curriculum has a million flaws, including producing Ugandan scientists who would belong ‘everywhere and nowhere’ in the world of science and technology. Scientific studies and advancements are so specific that virtually what would otherwise be components or modules of larger field, become specializations, especially at post-graduate levels. In applied technology, this is what drives innovations and inventions, as we witness in
- molecular biology,
- nuclear physics,
- organic chemistry, nano technology and the entire spectrum of technological advancement.
Where would Ugandans of the ‘Science Learning’ area fit in here? Thus, any undertaking requiring specialized knowledge in Uganda would depend on foreign expertise, even for the mundane duties.
Effect on local private and public schools
The new curriculum was to affect local public and the majority of local private schools. The effect would be a few Ugandans enrolling their children in international schools and local private schools offering foreign curricula. This would entrench inequalities through education. I’m beginning to agree with one pundit who described the new curriculum as akin to Bantustan Education. Ice this with the a situation where we have a full circle: a son of a peasant studies ‘general education’ and completes A-level without ever crossing his home sub-county!
More reasons to reject the new curriculum
The MPs should, therefore, root for the total rejection of the curriculum not merely suspension. And the schools being used to ‘pilot’ should revert to the current curriculum.
We are currently witnessing demonstrations by students at Makerere University, protesting the scrapping of courses in which they are soon graduating with degrees.
Else, what will happen to those students who will be ‘guinea-pigged’ when the whole thing is rejected? We are currently witnessing demonstrations by students at Makerere University, protesting the scrapping of courses in which they are soon graduating with degrees. It is no nice an idea for one to hold a degree in a course that was scrapped.
The suspension of the new curriculum should be followed by a protracted rethinking and refocusing of our entire education system. Our leaders do tell us that the future of Uganda is in industrialization. So if we envisage Uganda being like South Korea 30 years from today, what type of education will give us the skill-mix that we will need?
It is our collective responsibility
And we cannot delegate the answers to these questions to someone else, as we are used to doing. In the end we only turn around and blame ‘colonial education’. It was designed to serve the needs of those who designed it. The onus now is upon us to design the education that serves our present interests, and positions Uganda to claim her place among nations, today and forever.
For starters, let us merge Business, Technical and Vocational Education and Training with National Youth Service, to be implemented at two key levels, namely lower post-primary and high school. All we need is re-allocating resources scattered in several ‘youth programmes’.
Mr Matsiko is a management and development consultant. firstname.lastname@example.org