The Problem With Our Education System

Kidasa Ronald Nabende
Given a task or a specific ambition, one that involves one or no known plan, as has been proven by innovation and manifested in man's inventions, it is safe to deduce that there exists a given number of solutions to any given problem. Just like there exist multiple languages and media through which to communicate a given piece of information/subject matter to a less or greater effect depending on the desired outcome or as limited by seen/unforeseen barriers.

To elaborate my thought best, permit me one more analogy. Allow me to state that as is applied in aviation, (air routes) commuting habits and even our routine relocation for unspecified reasons, there exists a given number of routes to the same destination regardless whether location or point of origin is constant or not. Not because destinations are limited, simply because will should and cannot be limited.

I say this because I see neither reward nor benefit in subjecting an open, perhaps virgin mind to the confines of convention. Either by forcing, inducing or compelling one to memorize the thoughts and beliefs of previous and perhaps lesser mortals, as far as morals and intelligence goes.

The purpose of education then ought to be to open minds, not to fill them. A good teacher then, is one who helps their student(s) to discover what they can be and then subsequently lets them drift to whatever they want to be. With minimal interference or guidance, unless of course, they detect a variation way off course. The role of the school is to identify the needs and interests of students and respond to them as best they can.

Hard as it maybe for some to admit. Despite the breadth of our curriculum, it is largely lacking in depth. Our education system teaches and encourages us to remember so much of what we neither need nor like, and by extension, this allows little or no room for creativity and expression, traits that are very very crucial and vital to the process and quality of life. In the early stages of development, (elementary school) our minds, our generation was never taught how to think and reason, instead, by compulsion, routine and all other means deemed necessary, we were taught how to obey and follow. This has made us into what the colonialist(s) intended us to be, not necessarily what we should or could have been.

Perfect scenario; the primary school curriculum. If a focused kid skipped from P5 to S1, despite a slight fluctuation in performance, that leap would be of almost no consequence on his iQ, future or mental capacities coz the bulk of the stuff we were taught or rather forced to remember in that time frame was irrelevant and of no consequence. Yet by far and large, as was reflected in the rankings, our abilities and performance were evaluated based purely on our memorizing capacity.

Thus, our interests and career paths were dictated by our ability/inability to recall certain useless facts and reproduce obsolete content. In essence, most students go to school to pass, not learn. Yet the reason we go to school ought to be learn, not just to pass. Coz to pass, there are various means, avenues and ways to pass, but minus interest and passion, learning is just not possible.

That aside, teaching is not a profession of choice for most teachers here. Evident in the way they recruit at teacher training colleges and universities, usually the low end performers are the ones who opt for education as a course since it requires minimal entry points. This compromises the whole purpose of education if the people to undertake this noble obligation are neither suited nor capable of the undertaking. And even they that are well suited for the job and chose the career by their own volition are lacking in motivation and support. They are not well facilitated and under paid. This reflects on their performance and relationships with students, ultimately producing a low caliber of citizens.

Schools here, especially government schools seem to be obsessed and preoccupied with limiting student's livelihoods instead of bettering their minds, imparting life skills and building confidence & character. For instance, most government schools think by dictating the length of student's hair and telling them what they can or cant wear makes them better citizens or more resourceful individuals. No, that's a total lack of priorities, investing so much time and dedication into rules and regulations makes schools mini-prisons of sorts.

That said; as, if and when permitted to think, participate or decide, I am convinced that preference and choice are not singular events but merely products of circumstance subject to variation based on intelligence. Don't know if that makes sense. But to sum it all, there in lies the difference between knowledge and intelligence. Application and preference. Coz in essence, to know or choose what doesn't matter is to know nothing, in a sense its an abuse and lack of will.

The reason we have few or no astronauts, physicists, astrophysicists, nutritionists, dietitians, mathematicians and inventors in Uganda is because the kids don't want to be any of these things. They want to be what they know and they don't know of these professions or possibilities. The school environment and our education system teach us to be what our parents and teachers expect. Not necessarily what we can want to be. Where is the will/passion in that?

The greatest force on this earth is will. Its the one resource we cannot deplete regardless how we choose to use it. Just like an emotion, once in motion, its almost impossible to stop it. Sadly, we abuse it a lot more than we use it. Coz most times the difference between ability and inability is simply will or the lack of it. More often than not, the only thing between us and who/where we want to be is lack of will. The wall between us and our wildest dreams or fondest ambitions is not lack of zeal but simply insufficiency or lack of will.

Imagine Michael Jackson's dad had forced him to go to gym with him and Muhammad Ali's mom had subjected him to art school or med school. Surely, we'd have a lousy singer, a rude surgeon and an anonymous boxer but the world would be two legends less. Some one needs to fix this, and am not talking about just the syllabus. I mean, the entire education system. And so help us God.

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