Parents pay a fortune sending their children at school and they demand that they return home with a performance report at the end of the term or academic year. That piece of paper signed and stamped to prove validity but most importantly showing the students’ scores in Mathematics, English and other subjects. Parents who take keen interest in reports won’t hesitate in blaming and even punishing their children for the low scores in specific subjects or for the poor grade. But schools simply teach students to imitate and if you don’t imitate what the teacher wants, you get a bad grade.
I simply can’t figure out who the real beneficiaries of our education system are, because they are not the students. The architects of the education system may have had good intentions but they employed the wrong methods. A system that completely conditions students to work for a grade rather than the knowledge, the grade is supposed to represent has turned to be a disaster.
When schools and colleges concentrate on teaching students how to pass with a good grade we are not building the pillars to support the future. We are simply turning students into robots programmed to do as instructed but without innovation, discovery and creativity. A good education is what someone remains with after forgetting everything he learned from school. But can schools provide that?
We Africans and Ugandans in particular have been obedient enough, for over a century, to imitate and rehearse the findings of dead scientists, poets, philosophers and dreamers without raising any objection. This makes schools mainly centers for a one point of view; the one the teacher has or the text books have. Refusing to follow what your teacher was taught by his teacher as the universal truth and having contradicting ideas or points of view different from what the teacher has given you may earn you a poor grade. If this is not a way of destroying creativity then what is it?
We have a reason to be worried as long as schools still think that their primary function is to impart enough facts to make children stop asking questions. Actually those who thirst for knowledge cannot be quenched by what schools provide end up becoming great scientists. Most of the great scientists we have had dropped out of schools for one reason; schools could not welcome their ideas or opinions which they treasured most but only pumped textbook facts into their heads.
Educationists need to know that presenting an endless procession of meaningless signs, words, rules or theories without arousing imaginations from the students cannot add intellectual value to the young generation. Training individuals to be able to learn from textbooks is not what matters but training one’s mind to be able to think of something that cannot be learned from textbooks is what this nation needs. Actually whatever you think you know already is what will stop you from learning.
In real life, imagination is more important than knowledge. To raise a new question, new possibilities and to regard old problems from a new angle requires creative imagination which ordinary education cannot offer. If you examined yourself and your methods of thought, you would come to the conclusion that the gift of fantasy has meant more to you than your talent for absorbing positive knowledge. Schools ought to stop emphasizing how to pass with a good grade only and singing facts and theories, but train students to think about possibilities and discover solutions to the world’s current perplexing problems.
Let education not divert our minds from creative pursuits. It should only be a platform upon which we start building broader perspectives that can enable us to handle global challenges. In other wards education should not be a destination or an end in itself but a continuous process of building human capacity and abilities that can match with new challenges.
Director of Studies
Mbogo Mixed Secondary School