The debate between humanities and sciences has been ongoing since time immemorial. However, a closer look at the two sides of the same coin reveals that the debate may not actually be worth the effort. Historically, and particularly in Africa , children received traditional informal education on matters such as artistic performances, ceremonies, rituals, games, festivals, dancing, singing and drawing. Girls and boys were taught separately to help prepare each sex for their adult roles. Consequently there wasn’t much to distinguish the two seemingly conflicting areas.
The situation in Uganda today is taking a more extremist approach with the current government seemingly more inclined to the promotion of sciences at the expense of the humanities. There is a school of thought that science that science and technology can provide the required manpower to steer the country to prosperity. This is undoubtedly in line with the fact that manpower constitutes the active factor of production which exploits and organizes all the other resources to produce useful goods and services. However, this view doesn’t indicate that it is solely the humanity or the science-based human skills that are prerequisite or economic development but a combination.
In this debate about whether to take humanities or sciences. This is most pronounced at the Uganda Advanced Certificate of Education (UACE) level where one has to choose between a science- based and a humanities-based subject combination.
In deciding whether to go for sciences or humanities, parents and their children are looking for where there are higher chances of getting gainful employment after graduation; in essence talking about value for money. In some cases children are influenced by their parents’ area of specialization. Where by many parents tend to think that their children should or in some cases must take the line that they took. This is true in an affluent setting where the parents are knowledgeable. To a small extent, some children are guided by prestige; where it is thought that taking a science based subject combination is a sign of being smart upstairs and that humanities are for the weak upstairs.
The point to emphasis in this debate is that sciences or humanities, success is determined by very many causes not solely one’s area of specialization. There are several examples of medical doctors, engineers, agriculturalists, lawyers, teachers, accountants who have been failures and others who have been successful by any measures. Factors like luck, enterprise, creativity, environment, thrift and many more are at play other than solely one’s area of specialization. It is on this note that parents are strongly advised not to force their children to take subject combinations, the demands of which their children cannot contain.
By Ssendi Frank
Wampewo Ntake S.S.S