By Uganda Online Media
The Victoria University Vice Chancellor, Prof Lawrence Muganga has called stakeholders in the education sector to join him in advocating for a better and more meaningful education system that will tackle Uganda’s unemployment problem.
To Listen To Prof.Muganga’s Twitter Space Recording TAP HERE
Prof. Muganga made the comments while appearing on Twitter Space hosted by NBS TV show host and news anchor, Mable Twegumye Zake.
Muganga who has since been nicknamed ‘an education evangelist’ called for education reforms noting that 90% of what is currently being taught in schools is irrelevant and has no value in this Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR).
”In the previously released PLE and UCE exams, masses of learners failed countrywide and what hurts me is that these students are blamed and bullied for being failures and this has contributed to the escalating dropouts because these learners lose hope and feel they can’t make it. The reality is, these are bright students failed by a dangerous education system that assumes that all learners have the same capabilities, can be taught using similar techniques, come from the same background etc,” says Muganga adding;
”The education system considered by many as a ‘stupid one’ tells you that teach a student for four years, after that, give that student an exam of just two hours to answer not what they learnt but what they crammed and guess what! in this exam, we ask a poor boy in Soroti District deeper in the village to answer questions about a certain river in Germany, we ask a Karamoja student to answer questions about Kampala jam, why don’t we ask such a student to provide solutions about hunger and cattle rustling? wondered Prof.Muganga.
‘Stupid Education System’ Boosts Unemployment
Prof. Muganga says the current education system produces graduates who are half-baked and therefore incompetent in their field of work.
”This education system is killing the human capital and we need to decolonize ourselves by offering an innovative education that corresponds to the realities of the modern era. I explain very well this in my Authentic University book,” says Muganga.
”The current education system tells us that you must be fluent in English but why not our mother languages? England, France, and China embedded their languages in their curriculums but here we force English on our children and when they fail we call them failures” says Muganga.
He gave an example of a history teacher who got a failure ‘F’ in English in his S.4 exams despite speaking good English. ”Martin who was considered a failure just because he got an ‘F’ in English, now has a first-class degree in education. So the system then failed to determine who Martin was. He was not a failure, but the system wanted to fail him and kill his future. Therefore we should all advocate for a personalized learning approach to education since our children are unique, and have different interests.”
On the above point, Muganga received praise from one netizen Patrick Ayebazibwe who said the Victoria University don is a potential educator that Uganda must be proud of.
Ayebazibwe shared his experience when his sister scored 35 aggregates in UCE exams with an ‘F’ in mathematics which denied her a nursing course by all academic institutions considering her to be a failure. ”Now you tell me that this education system is not so stupid? My self I didn’t pass Physics in S.4. I wanted to be an engineer, and I was advised to change my ambitions and choose a different combination at A Level but my uncle, Atuhamize Yoram saved me when he advised me to join a technical school where I scored distinctions in most subjects and got a first-class diploma in petroleum engineering, therefore I strongly agree with Prof Muganga that the entire education system should be overhauled…because it’s just stupid,” Ayebazibwe spit venom.
Prof.Muganga says the world has passed the university by and will not wait for education to keep pace with its ever-evolving information and communication technology situated in an increasingly entrepreneurial economy.
Although many have a tendency of blaming the government for whatever is not going right, Muganga says this shouldn’t be the case in implementing the education system he advocates for, to him, the blame should be put on the lazy stakeholders in the education sector.
”To me, the government should be excused in some cases. We can’t blame it for this stupid education system, no…let’s blame the lazy heads of academic institutions, can you imagine we still have universities that give physical exam papers to students to write with pen and hand in? Are you waiting for gov’t to come and tell you that the era has changed and we’re now digital? a student finishes the whole course without touching a computer and tomorrow you send that student out to look for jobs, and you think you’re offering a meaningful education? We, as educational stakeholders, must meet the challenge of change in an urgent way,” said Muganga.
How Should Learners Be Assessed?
Prof.Muganga says Uganda needs a competency-based education system that supports assessment at all levels and assesses students based on their capabilities, not the cram work they put on papers.
”We need a competency-based education, a system of instruction, assessment, feedback, self-reflection, and academic reporting that is based on students demonstrating that they have learned the knowledge, attitudes, motivations, self-perceptions, and skills expected of them as they progress through their education,” says Muganga.
He further says that the final exams of UNEB should only contribute 20% and the entire 80% be awarded by the teacher from the assessment made on a student in the entire duration of the study.
”A student takes three years studying and is assessed 100% in just two hours that’s wrong, let’s give the chance to teachers to asses the students along their journey of studying, and maybe UNEB can handle only 20 per cent and 80 per cent be assessed by teachers,” says Muganga.
Also, Muganga wants the Ministry of Education and Sports to develop an infrastructure that can support technology around the country and embed it in the education curriculum to prepare learners for the evolving technological world.
”It’s very clear, a student who won’t embrace technology today will not only struggle but won’t have a chance in the future to thrive in the economy. And higher education institutions should urgently embrace experiential learning, not theory work.
Not Just Preaching, Things Are Practical At Victoria University
Muganga said at Victoria University they couldn’t wait for the government to design for them a better curriculum and competence-based learning model he preaches.
”At Victoria University we intentionally said the archaic-fashioned education system doesn’t work anymore and we trashed it. We don’t waste our learners’ time and by the way, other institutions should peak a leaf. We now offer experiential learning that prepares our students for the real world of work. By the time they finish their course, they’ve all the required skills needed in the job market,” said Muganga.
On technology, Muganga said at Victoria University they have a digital platform dubbed Vclas which enables all students to receive lectures virtually from wherever they’re. He says no matter how busy you’re from where ever you’re, a student gets all lectures and when the time for exams clocks, the student is able to answer and submit exams digitally using the same Vclass.
To Listen To Prof.Muganga’s Twitter Space Recording TAP HERE
”Our Victoria University system doesn’t make learners prisoners of lecture rooms, we get for them field placements to go and get the required skills as they follow lecturers virtually, and by the time a student graduate has two certificates; normal transcript which details the knowledge one has acquired and the second is; competence & skills certificate which demonstrates what a student can do,” says Muganga.
Asked how Victoria University handles students who are considered failures by the ‘stupid education system’, he said what’s important is not A’s or credits on academic transcripts but also there should always be a second chance for such learners.
He says Victoria University created a Higher Education Certificate (HEC) for S.6 students who didn’t get the two principal passes and this has already been embraced by the National Council for Higher Education (NCHE).
”When a student fails to get two principal passes they come to Victoria University and enrol in the HEC program which has the higher education biological sciences, physical sciences, and general sciences. In just 8 months which is two semesters, a student gets his certificate and enrols for a degree in any University around the world,” said Muganga adding;
”So all the thousands of students who didn’t get principal passes can come we help them in just 8 months they go to University and this is what other institutions lack, Victoria University is just unique and this is the meaningful learning we are talking about,” says Muganga.
Prof. Muganga also wants career guidance embedded in the learning system to guide children at an early age on the path they should take. He says Victoria University has a Career Readiness and Employability Program which gives proper guidance to a student beginning from year one up to the time one finishes the entire course.
Decolonize Our Education System
Muganga says Ugandans and Africans at large have their own problems, cultures, values, and languages, therefore they should have their own education curriculum that addresses our problems.
”These foreigners developed for us an education system which is not fit for us. Their system forces us to actually forget our languages and use theirs and when we fail we call ourselves failures. Almost in all foreign countries, learners are taught in their mother languages…talk about French, Chinese, English etc, are those countries not developed? so why don’t we start to think about developing our own curriculum? We need to decolonize our curriculum and make it one that addresses our needs and problems. Of course, for now, it may be costly and may delay us due to limited resources and other factors but surely it’s achievable and if we plan very well we can get there,” noted Muganga.
Muganga however says Africans should thank colonialists for developing a wonderful technology that can be used by everyone to boost development.
”I think these colonialists thought we were far behind and we wouldn’t be able to catch up with their technology. I’m sure if every African embraced technology today, in the shortest period of time we can outcompete the west in terms of development,” says Muganga.
He however cautions that Africans should be mindful of some technology initiatives intended to kill the African cultures and values.
”We should use their technology but modify it to correlate with our culture and values and then ignore what’s contrary to our values. We want the technology that moves us from one step to thousands of steps and we compete with other countries,” says Muganga.
Minister Janet Museveni Is Worthy Appreciating
Muganga commended the Ministry of Education under the wise leadership of first lady Janet Kataha Museveni for introducing the Competence-Based Learning Curriculum in lower secondary.
”Under the wise leadership of mama Janet Museveni, we have started seeing the light because I have advocated for a Competence-Based Learning Curriculum for long. I highly commend the Hon. Minister and am hopeful soon she will announce an overhaul of the entire education system and introduce a meaningful education,” Muganga noted.
He also commended the National Curriculum Development Centre (NCDC) officials for designing the new curriculum but requested; ”They should not always wait for us to tell them what to do. Let them push all academic institutions to embrace Competence-Based Learning and Experiential Learning. I’m happy at Victoria University we have started that journey and the world is already yearning for our graduates.”
To Listen To Prof.Muganga’s Twitter Space Recording TAP HERE