When I was young I often used to ask myself why I had to wake very early every morning to head to school. My father used to knock on my door at 5 each morning shouting that we were late and I’m thinking: “Dad, it’s just 5, school starts at 8.” But oh well, I had to let it be because daddy said it was my future and after all…daddy always knows what’s best for his kids. It didn’t occur to me at that early age why I had to go to school. All I ever did was reach school, hand in my homework, listen to my subject teachers as they rattled on and on about those things that didn’t make any sense to me by then. The five hills on which Kampala was built, that was social studies, well maybe now I can identify them but then I just had to know them because if I didn’t then I wouldn’t get a 90% at the end of the year.
Now, as I look back, I see all those 3 years I was in nursery, 7 years I did my primary, 6 years for my A’level and I realize my life revolved around trying as hard as I could to memorize all this information that all these educated geniuses who stood before me for single lessons, doubles, triples, quadruples (all these being sessions of not less than 40 minutes each) and talked for hours. I did understand at that particular time and moment considering the fact that the final exams were around the corner and I didn’t want to put to shame my teachers, parents, who had so much faith in me to more than excel. Not to mention the fact that my parents had to pay arduously for my fees that just kept leaving them broke every semester. But come to think of it…ask me what the 5 hills of Kampala are or to name the parts of an egg in detail, besides the egg yolk and white and I’ll look at you clueless. I can’t remember what I studied in my primary four in detail and that is solely because I didn’t pay keen attention to what was being taught. All that was reverberating in my head was the fear of not grasping these concepts to re-write them in my termly tests. I did not understand. All I did was listen then copy and paste in the exams. And at the end of it all, I seemed to be given all these certificates of recognition and accolades for my outstanding performances at the end of every year…But what they didn’t know was that if they asked me to re-do one of those tests, I’d have to refer to my notes again to refresh my memory, and copy more information before re-sitting the assessment, to paste it again.
Notice that I haven’t yet done my higher education of learning nor have I yet even set foot in a University but what I’m sure of is that I wasted all the 16 years I was in secondary, primary and maybe I gained something out of nursery but the other two institutions were just a series of frivolous lessons, assessments that I left in my notes, on the papers I did, on the reports they made but none of it lies in my memory anymore. Well, only the interesting things that I can apply now. I’m not saying am dumb but school made me a machine of some sorts because it dictated how I lived, moved, answered. It defined my level of knowledge from the results that came out and it set my path for me because it gave me a concluded number and option of subjects and combinations to do and who I would become after doing them. Take for instance biology..(all the science subjects) you either become a doctor, engineer, pharmacist..that’s actually medicine, et cetra and the Arts, I am sure we all know the courses the arts do. Well, that only applies to this regimented system in our country. The schools don’t give you a chance to think out of the box. Because say my interest is being a deejay, yes they offer music but I have to do the subjects that are attached to it non of which are in my interests. We are ranked according to our mental capabilities, as the teachers measure this through the tests but then what if I’m not good at all these subjects that I am expected to do and better at handwork (making artefacts, sculptures, woodwork)? I am limited to doing those subjects and branded a fool because I keep failing. And say, If I decide to go to an institution to advance my skills and desires I will be stigmatized simply because ‘it’s not good for my c.v’, or ‘nobody in your family has ever done that’. I become a disgrace. Success is defined by the number of acclamations one has received over their study period, by the type of car one drives or the house they live in..at least that is how the world defines success and failure..is the opposite.
School taught me to believe that I was a failure if I scored below the set pass mark, that I wouldn’t make it in life because I was less than average and that is why I strove hard to master and not understand the concepts taught. Now am back to square one all over again. Most would say am a novice at these things since I haven’t yet reached the crux of the matter and that is the PhD. In my modest opinion, one shouldn’t be ranked by the scores they get but rather their mental ability to be creative, to be able to decipher between what’s good or bad, and make choices. Take for example myself, what was the essence of all those years if I’m not able to make basic decisions, to interact with my colleagues amicably, or to recall all those things I learned? But have a stack full of knowledge stored up in my brain. Therefore, we shouldn’t be defined by our educational papers. I know we will not be able to make it in the big world if we have no qualifications but who says we can’t make our own qualifications and set up our own empire without the harassment of tests. Steve Jobs clearly proved that you do not need a masters to become a multimillionaire. As Solomon in the book of Ecclesiastes noted that everything is meaningless. The papers we strive so hard to acquire may one day be caught in a fire and everything that we once took pride in suddenly vanishes. So let’s focus more on the things that matter, laughter, family, friends, not missing out on chance because we had a deadline to hand in. Let’s invest in memories. At the end of it all, we will not marry our education but the people we ignored as we strove to achieve these accolades that do matter, but not to die for.
As I currently await my results, I’m praying to excel and I know that my maker will surely grant me that. Regardless of which I will not swim in my pity parties. He set out a perfect plan for my life and maybe it isn’t my time to shine yet but it surely will be one day. I’m working for a crown that will last, not one that will corrode one day and grow moulds but one that will live on and on and on in the hearts of men, my country and my loved ones. Even if my not recorded or recognized in the books of history at least those I impacted will remember me.
I’m not against school or education. I am against the fact that it dictates how you think and what you will become. I’m for exploring your potential not limited to the boundaries created by the system. Be who you are best and that, my friends..will be the true meaning of success. Finding happiness in what you’re doing regardless of the title it carries.
You have to learn the rules of the game. And then, you have to play better than anyone else.