Uproot Entire Colonial Education System – Dr. Musenero

The Minister of Science, Technology, and Innovation, Dr. Monica Musenero, has recommended that the ongoing education policy review should concentrate on dismantling the existing system and adapting a new one, possibly from African indigenous means of learning.

Dr. Musenero said that the current education system, which has deep roots in the colonial system, primarily revolves around schooling and school access and produces students who are assessed on the basis of who can cram content than on the basis of producing value needed to solve problems for communities.

Dr. Musenero made the remarks when her Ministry appeared before the Amanya Mushega-led Education Policy Review Commission which is currently collecting proposals that will eventually overhaul the current education system.

The Minister proposed that there is a need to reinvent the wheel of education and come up with a purely new system for Uganda drawing inspiration from the industrial value chain and achievements of Africans before the arrival of outsiders.

She further added; “Currently, we only determine those who are knowledgeable by classroom attendance other than what they can do.” With these remarks, most of the commission members nodded their heads in apparent agreement with her statement.

Dr. Musenero also noted that she is perplexed as to why parents are selling their land or other assets to fund the education of a student who would continue to be jobless after earning a degree or any other credential.

“This is because the system has been set up so that we believe that learning occurs when people attend school. What if our educational system encouraged students to use their land to develop a novel idea? I believe that even if one did not attend a four-wall classroom, they would still be superior to today’s degree holders,” she added.

Ever since the commission started public hearings, most of the entities and individuals who have appeared have been pointing out that the current education system has no defined purpose. Several people have been asking questions like what can a learner from let’s say senior six is capable of doing.

As Dr. Musenero pointed out, the current education system was brought in by missionaries who delinked the traditional form of teaching which was largely through practice and apprenticeship and over time local innovations and products were being developed to solve emerging society problems.

Writing about the African traditional education system in Uganda, Dziri Khadidja highlighted that system had its characteristics that had contributed to the intellectual enrichment of Uganda but was demonized and branded as backward.

In his book, History and Development of Education in Uganda, Prof. John Cristome Ssekamwa, a renowned Uganda educationist, also made a similar observation that Europeans thought that there was no education thus introducing their system.

According to Dr. Musenero, this system was created to constrain students’ talents. She issued a warning based on this background, saying that continuing to copy and paste foreign systems and policies won’t lead to outcomes because the imported ideas may have worked successfully in the country of origin due to a number of circumstances that aren’t present in Uganda.

According to her, if the new Uganda tailor made system is developed, there is a need to put Science, Technology and Innovation at its core and remove barriers that are put around learners.

“This new system should be based on industrial value chains. This means we will be looking at a particular chain and developing our human capital in that line,” she said, adding that the system should be allowing children to discover, create, innovate, socialize and take care of society and nature right from the lower levels of learning.

Despite the fact that the commissioners seemed to be agreeing with her proposal, there were some concerns. For instance, Brighton Barugahare, member of the commission and policy analyst at the education ministry, wondered where such a radical move could receive political support. 

Prof. David Kabasa, another member of the commission, also made a follow up inquiry asking the minister on how this “brilliant proposal” can be better pitched into the implementable education policy.  He said that although everyone thinks this might be the right way to go, there is a need to unpack the idea to see how it can be put into practice.

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