By Prof. Ogenga Latigo
The greatest tragedy and challenge of Uganda’s education we now face is not the new lower secondary curriculum.
NO, it is not.
The greatest tragedy is the neglect of education as a tool to bridge inequality, build human resource capacities and empower individuals and households as a critical component of holistic human development.
What will the curriculum do to address the abject state of government schools, with poorly trained, ill-prepared, poorly facilitated, poorly motivated and poorly paid teachers?
What will the curriculum do to uplift public schools so that requisite education materials, books, labs, chemicals, computers, etc are accessible to every pupil and student in every corner of the country?
What will the curriculum do to address the challenge of teacher training when specialized teacher education centers (Kyambogo) have been killed instead of being deepened and expanded as countries such as Kenya did for their Science Teachers’ Colleges?
What will this curriculum do to address the deep social and economic disparities between regions, rural and urban, and rich and poor that have been widened by shrinking opportunities for many over the last 30 years?
What will the curriculum do when trained extension workers are replaced with retired, ill-trained soldiers in the name of Operation Wealth Creation as the country sinks deeper into the peasantry, subsistence, dependencies and handouts rather than skills and productiveness to survive?
In the end, what will the curriculum do to restore hope where hope died a long time ago?
I am an ecologist and basic ecology teaches that two things that define the existence and wellbeing of living things are (1) conditions and (2) resources.
Even if you are given the best seeds and best inputs to produce, if the necessary conditions of good weather, health and peace to produce are not there, the good seeds are meaningless as you will not produce and will not survive.
Even if you have the requisite conditions of knowledge, excellent weather, peace, etc but do not have the right resources (seeds, inputs, cash), you will not produce and will not survive.
In the two scenarios:-
Where does the new curriculum fit? What does it address?
Let those advocating one way or the other address these first then we will be talking.
As kids, more than a half-century ago, we used to play with chicken as we moved them from houses to the chicken house (koro gweno) in the evening.
We would fold the heads of chicken under their wings, put the chicken down and start to repeatedly sing “Gweno nin, ogwang obino” i.e “chicken sleep, the wildcat is coming”. The winner was one whose chicken stayed longest on the ground.
To avoid that situation, can we have a home where all chicken are well fed and properly fed and cared for, and with chicken houses that young birds are systematically trained to go to as the sun sets and that are firmly secured against wild cats?
Just food for thought.