Allow me to share some (unsolicited) thoughts on Uganda’s education.
1. Government teachers need to become highly valued civil servants. Education courses should have rigorous entry requirements and should filter for a) passion, b) commitment and c) technical competence. It should become a very highly sought-after profession, not a last resort.
2. Focus heavily on improving the literacy and numeracy baseline. Everything in the education upstream doesn’t matter if students cannot read, write or handle basic calculations.
Policies for secondary school and university fall apart if the student’s literacy and numeracy foundation is weak.
3. Good policies mean nothing if the will to implement is weak. Ministry and district-level corruption trickle-down heavily into issues like inconsistent wages, teacher absenteeism and under-resourced classrooms.
4. Create a stronger emphasis on the real-world application of knowledge attained, irrespective of subject matter or discipline. Examine or assess students based on their capability to apply what they’ve learned rather than their ability to memorize for a test.
5. Overhaul technical and vocational training to cater for job-readiness/entrepreneurship. Be deliberate about integrating soft-skills, self-driven learning, critical thinking directly into the learning process, not as separate subjects or topics.
6. Create stronger ties between industries and schools/universities. Create an apprenticeship/mentorship model that sees more interactions between working professionals and students in the same fields.
7. Ensure that schools have an equitable number of resources, especially at county or sub-county level. Schools in Kanungu or Katakwi should be able to offer the same level of learning/performance as schools in Kampala.
8. Stop/ban the listing of school performances in newspapers. This has created an extremely hostile environment in which schools teach students only to pass exams and parents choose schools because “they appeared in papers.” Many schools have now resorted to cheating.
9. Stop. Making. Kids. Wake. Up. At. 5AM.
I know these are idealistic suggestions and that the actual implementation has complex nuances which we may or may not be aware of. But I strongly believe that it’s possible.
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