Tuesday February 4 2014

Traditional schools are overrated

By George Stephen Mukasa

Now that the PLE results are out, the scramble for vacancies in Senior One has already started. Many parents, acting on the age-long belief that the traditional schools - call them first world schools - teach best, are doing all in their power to secure vacancies in those schools. The question is: Is it really true that those schools teach best?

The Ugandan public is really gullible. How else can you explain the fact that the public believes this blatant lie that traditional schools are doing something extraordinary. We all know that these so-called first world schools go for the cream when admitting Senior One students - pupils who scored either aggregate 4 or 5.

For purposes of this discussion, say they admit 150 students with the said aggregates. Four years down the road, the first world school turns out may be 100 first grades. Then the public (and the press) goes up in praise of how those schools taught very well.

Really? If one may ask, what would have happened to the 50 students who joined that particular school with ‘super’ first grades? I think rather than praising these schools, we should be asking them to account for the 50 potential first grades they ‘killed’.

And the praise singers say nothing about the fact that these schools operate with the best of everything - senior teachers who are well motivated, the best laboratories, the best libraries and a category of parents ready to pay anything that is asked for by the school.

Compare this with a rural school deep in Kiboga District, for instance. It admits a similar number of students in Senior One and if lucky, with only four pupils with weak first grades of 11 or 12 aggregates. Four years down the road, this school gets eight students in first grade.

Which of these two schools would have done better? Simple logic would say the school in the rural areas of Kiboga. Why? Because that school would have managed to transform second graders into grade one (four students) where the so- called first world school ‘killed’ 50!

We should also be mindful of the fact that the rural school would have operated in an environment of inadequacies of both human and instructional resources. The public should put these factors in mind as they run to these so-called first world schools.

George Stephen Mukasa,
Director – School Support Services Ltd,