A Rebirth of Traditional Schools in Uganda is coming up

Over the past two decades, there has been a steady decline in the influence and seductiveness of the so called traditional schools in Uganda. Just for us to be on the same page, I mean schools like Busoga College Mwiri, Nabumali High School, Tororo College, Jinja College, St. Joseph’s College Layibi, Mvara Secondary School, Dr. Obote College Boroboro, Kiira College Butiki, St. Henry’s College Kitovu among others.

While they declined, privately run schools took their space and rose to prominence. Never mind that most were hasty arrangements of arcade like structures being turned into schools. They were favoured alot by the read and cram only curriculum that has been in place hence allowing them to focus on churning out students that are best described as paper tigers whose goal is to score distinctions in a 2 hour exam aimed at rating your knowledge gain over a span of four years!!!!

The introduction of the Competence Based Curriculum (CBC) in Uganda is one of the greatest highlights the NRM regime can pride in. This is a curriculum that emphasizes what learners are expected to do rather than mainly focusing on what they are expected to know. In principle, such a curriculum is learner-centered and adaptive to the changing needs of students, teachers, and society.

This year I got a child that joined Senior 1 hence my keen interest in understanding the CBC. For starters, I did observe the teaching approach at his school and was very impressed when I saw the students in smaller groupings during lesson time, discussing and later presenting to the entire class. The teacher simply played a facilitative role and I was quite awed when I saw these young children exude information that in yesteryears we awaited for teachers to dispense.

I will never forget the horrible experience of learning mathematics in my S2 from a teacher who had been overtaken by evolution. He made me hate the subject yet in later years, fellow students enabled me grasp the concepts better.

I have always felt cheated when all the ratings by the school for my children centred around marks scored in an exam hence denying me the ability to rate them in other spheres. This worried me so much that when Lockdown came up, I got so happy because while other parents were out there scampering to have their children coached during this time so they can skip a class, I focused on skilling mine and by the time they returned to school, they had attained a number of other practical skills.

Come end of term, I read through the four page report for my son and the breakdown was the first thing that caught my eye. The table below shows an entry of just one of his results.

They are able to gauge the pupil’s competencies and skills. Something I find very appealing.

The Score, replaces the standard format we have been accustomed to of 80% and the like. It is a calculation of Marks Scored divided by Total Marks and the result multiplied by 3.

By having such a nearly holistic assessment of the learner, I strongly believe that any serious parent will benefit through fully understanding their child at school. You get to appreciate their soft skills as well as hands on readiness.

I have heard concerns from some circles that there are teething implementation challenges. However, like birth pains, they are eventually going to yield something bigger and better for us.

Questions arise when it comes to the readiness of teachers to undertake this curriculum. The Government did not do us justice by inadequately preparing them and right now a good number are no different from an Imam who has been sent to preach in a Balokole church.

Imagine an individual who has been used to being the epicentre of knowledge having to turn around and become a mere facilitator. It takes alot of humility to embrace that.

The continuous assessment is such a headache for those schools that have been investing money in bribing their way into high grades through manufactured distinctions by simply buying final exam papers as well as compromising markers.

It is a shame to hear that the undercurrents trying to frustrate this curriculum implementation are some of the biggest investors in private education, a number of whom are even employed in Government circles.

This need for a detailed analysis and comprehension of students is not likely to work well for most private and primarily profit driven schools that focus on admitting large numbers in order to reap more financially.

The issue is exacerbated by the part time nature of their teaching staff that swing from one school to the other limiting their student contact severely.

A decade from now, there will be a clear distinction between the quality of students emanating from the traditional schools that choose to tap into their readily available class and non class room resources viz a viz the ones from the shopping arcade modeled private schools.

The writing is on the wall. Unless something drastic changes in the way private schools are setup, I foresee a glorious rebirth of traditional schools.

James Wire

Business & Technology Consultant
Twitter: @wirejames
Blog: https://wirejames.com


2 responses to “A Rebirth of Traditional Schools in Uganda is coming up

  1. Good observations there, James. The change in our education system and academic approach (I suspect the two are different but closely related, but what do I know? I am but a product of the old one!) is going to cause a change in the way we develop as a country – if we conduct it correctly and focus on the end product – the human resource.


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