Does this sound like anything close to what we refer to as education in Uganda and other developing countries? I would totally disagree. In pre-colonial Uganda traditional education was looked at as an integral part, and most influential component, of the holistic life. The aim of education was to offer training and formation to the individual, through social processes and institutions, to enable one play a befitting role in society. This training and formation took place through real life processes based on age, sex, and status. The world of learning was thus perceived as a life-long process, and was not apart from the world of work. Apprenticeship was the basic tool for learning skills. The acquired knowledge, skills, values and attitudes were not merely a preparation for a deferred future but for both the present and future life. The establishment of modern education (schooling) marked a critical change in the form, scope and philosophy of education. This change has its conspicuous mark in the phenomenon of Schooling, which changed the entire mode, spectrum, rationale and impact of education.
Today we have many schooled graduates who are far from being educated. The teaching and learning activities in schools and evaluation methods in education stress the acquisition and reproduction of information rather than knowledge and its application to real life situations. This explains the lack of originality among most Ugandans. I would therefore say that schooling in Ugandan context is far from the basic aims and objectives of education fundamental principles.
As a high school dropout, I have self educated myself through the use of free online resources. I was able to choose what information is relevant to me and to critically sieve through a wide range of theories to be able to come up with my own conclusions. I am empowered to think creatively, critically and ethically. I have learnt to solve problems by linking acquired knowledge to real life situations and this is something that many schooled people struggle to grasp. Having an academic paper is far from a description of one’s competence. I have had the opportunity to work with university interns and I am always amazed at how incompetent they are in practical application of what they have learnt. It is a shame to note that half of Ugandan graduates struggle to articulate themselves in public and even formal interpersonal dialogues. This all points to the fact that going to school does not necessarily make you a learned person because learning is a choice that one makes.
Knowledge is only but a door to a world of diverse opportunities. Your imagination is the catalyst for the transformation of your knowledge into true ideas. In order to unleash our imaginative abilities, we need to be given the opportunity to explore diverse possibilities without being forced to arrive at a single ‘correct’ answer. This is what is lacking in the current education system. For us to surpass the status quo of relying on academic papers, we must become our own teachers, explore alternatives and design our own career paths based on personal abilities and passion.
Schooling only becomes education if what we learn is relevant to our growing needs as individuals. The learning must be tailored to suit our learning abilities and must be coupled with alternative opportunities to explore and test what we are learning in real life situations. School is not limited to the four walls of a classroom but is only a means to an end. You can become your own teacher once you specify what your true abilities and passions are. This is the true sense of learning and the true definition of education.