Bits of ME
It was so loud I could barely feel my body surrounded by all the kids.
Dozens yelled in sheer excitement, others wailed in sorrow.
I did neither.
Those accompanied by parents, fingers of reprimand pointed-for ‘failing’ to live up to the expected ‘result’.
Other parents in tight embraces with their top performers.
ME- On my toes, lifting my head trying to locate my name on the notice board in anticipation.
Then I saw it…my low marks emboldened in my agony.
The noise stopped. It was just quiet. I felt numb. I was by oneself
As I wandered back home, the bold mark kept a ringing presence, hammering the anxiety of my father’s wrath.
Not that I was expected to get a 4 or even a Division one, I thought to myself. The obvious was, ‘which school is she going to go to?’
When I got home and read the longing for my marks from everyone’s face, I couldn’t bring myself to the truth so I said, ‘my results aren’t yet out- didn’t see my name on the notice board’!
I never imagined this news would be worse than my result but it was- when my father brought the results the day after, I expected a reign of terror.
But he was silent.
In the night though, that question would creep into his dialogue with my mother: ‘Which school is she going to go to?’
Bits of YOU
The obsession with results is numbing both for the parent and for our children.
Imagine a 13-year-old girl in Hoima hang herself after getting harsh comments from her parents over performing poorly in PLE?
She left a note! Her grade; 28, division 3!
Judged and killed by a grading?
The pressure created by the education system is exerted onto parents and also downloaded unto the students.
I can now put together the ‘radical’ view from consultant Dr. Lawrence Muganga advocating for a ban on UNEB.
He said: “Children are like zombies chasing a particular prey that they must catch, if they don’t get it, it’s a do or die.”
The system is violating the human rights of our children depriving them of an opportunity to be who they’re.
He explains, it’s instead crafting them into what the system wants, ‘nobody cares about their abilities, interests or passions’.
In the school system, parents should be handed a seat at the high table to tailor education sized to children’s potential, natural abilities, interests, talents and passions.
As Uganda’s Ministry of Education reflects on the adjustments in the curriculum, Dr. Muganga said it must stop confusing academics and education.
While Academics exhibits one’s credentials; they accumulate overtime and one becomes a producer of knowledge through teaching themselves and others.
Education is geared towards creativity, imaginative potential and problem solving.
“Not all the over 600,000 students that sit those exams annually become academicians. Children who are obsessed with being academicians should be pushed in that direction but if a child is not that type, do not push them,” Dr. Muganga said.
“Students shouldn’t be measured on 4s/divisions but on competencies achieved over time. If a child dropped out today, there should be a skill they can do for life. As long as the only deliverable we have is a number (grading) then we’re failures,” he said.
The pest eating into this system is commercialisation. For every school to fit into the good school suit, aggregate 4 or 5 becomes the only choice.
Dr. Muganga says, statistics reveal that 98% of everything studied in schools will never be used in life.
“Educating children out of their creativity, imaginative potential and problem solving skills affects their abilities to develop into a group of thinkers and doers destroying generation after generation,” he said.
It is absurd to think that a person is stupid or has failed because of a grading system. It’s the system that has failed them by not understanding who this person is.
The obsession of parents sending children to first world schools must stop. Attention should be directed to a school that supports your child in getting hands on experience.
“Look for a school that is helping your child to think not outside the box but without a box. Any school that teaches English and Mathematics is a good school since the child needs to learn and count,” Dr. Muganga advises.
In addition to that, a school that mostly concentrates on doing things; tailoring, cookery, games, music, etc such that a child can discover their abilities in one of those things and capitalise on it.
It’s grave for someone to start pursuing who they’re when they’re 24 years old yet you deprived them the opportunity to do that when they were 5-10 years old.
As parents, we must stop putting pressure on our children, ask and listen to them. Taking a decision for a child without their involvement is a disabler that deters them from self discovery.
*Dr. Lawrence Muganga is an internationally acclaimed education consultant, Author of You Can’t Make “Fish Climb trees” and Vice Chancellor Victoria university.