In Summary

The issue: Our education
Our view: Uganda needs to examine these reports recommendations, swing around on our education policy, build a competitive education for the future as we improve the learning of our children.

Successive reviews of our education system have been damning. The latest caution is by the World Bank that Uganda’s education is poor (Daily Monitor, February 5). The UN loans agency warns that education in Uganda is overly focused on mass enrolment without the required competencies in literacy, numeracy, and science, let alone low retention of learners, which translates into high dropout rates.

This is not to downplay the huge contribution of our Universal Education Programme (UPE), which has ensured many children, even from poor families and those with disabilities, have an opportunity to learn. But as things are, our children will not have advanced skills and will not compete with our Kenyan counterparts in the open East African labour and job market.
Unless this scenario is reversed, Uganda has no bright future, given our children’s limited opportunities.

This is why the warnings demand that we quickly think more about what will happen to our inadequate learners and future work force in the competitive job market. This is why our education managers should heed the warning by World Bank’s Ms Sajitha Bashir that “enrolment alone does not produce knowledge capital; it must prepare many of them to be educated and trained beyond basic education.”
To this end, Education minister Janet Museveni needs to make more urgent her call that “Uganda needs to run to catch up with the region. I invite our partners who walk with us to have the willingness to run with us to catch up with the world.”

Ms Museveni is right that the problem has been cited many times before. She is also right that the World Bank report is a wakeup call. Indeed, successive reviews of our education system have been bleak. It is high time we stopped the blame game and pinning our weak education system on the crises of the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s.

Contrarily, those yesteryears produced our country’s golden brains, with the latter years of the 1990s and 2000s comparing poorly against them. Indeed, those were the years when our country, as Ms Museveni again says, were when “Uganda was known as the best in the region in education. Most of the leaders were actually educated in Uganda.”

But why have these many calls and propositions not been heeded? It should be now that government revisits these many warnings and quickly act on same-old warnings by the Education ministry, World Bank, Uwezo, Stromme Foundation, Save the Children, Eriks Development Partners, UNICEF and UNHCR.
Uganda needs to examine these reports recommendations, swing around on our education policy, build a competitive education for the future as we improve the learning of our children.