Uganda’s education system should develop talent

Saturday September 4 2010

By Brian Bwesigye

Jesse Yesiga, the protagonist of Nick Twinamatsiko’s novel, Jesse’s Jewel studied Civil Engineering at university. He, however, had to study structural engineering afresh courtesy of his employer when he was given a job, and he realised that university had not taught him anything useful as regards structural engineering!

This same Yesiga loved Literature so much besides his love for Mathematics. He actually attempted to offer PCM/L at A-Level and was stopped on the basis that he could not combine Arts subjects with Science subjects. This same Yesiga however went on to read all sorts of literary works so much that he says when in the library, he found himself reading more of Shakespeare than his Engineering notes, and that is besides his immense love for Mathematics.

This autobiographical novel is written by a civil engineer that a reviewer and literary critic Dennis Muhumuza has described as the civil engineer who builds words and sentences. Twinamatsiko owns a publishing firm, has published two novels, Jesse’s Jewel and Chwezi Code, and an anthology of poems.

I should add that Twinamatsiko is also a lecturer of Civil Engineering and owns Kisaana Consults, a Kampala-based structural engineering and construction management firm. Twinamatsiko last studied Literature in his O- Level but you should read his novels to understand that our education system badly needs reform, judging from the quality of these novels coming from a man not trained to be a writer.

My opinion is that our education system should be remodelled to focus on developing talents than mechanically instructing them to be what they are genetically not meant to be. I know a story of another man who was a hit in the media until he joined the European Union as a communications expert.
This man had offered science subjects as we know them at secondary level.He was offered government sponsorship to study veterinary medicine but he turned the offer down because he had set his target at human medicine. That is when he joined the faculty of social sciences. From there, he joined the media. Watching him on TV reading news, or listening to him moderating a talk show or merely reading his story in the print media made you believe that he had studied Mass Communication from the best journalism schools.

Yet he had been engrossed in studying enzymes and other biology related stuff for his secondary school life! Similar examples abound. There are also examples of those who have offered courses like Law, Medicine, Engineering and have since never done anything worth writing home about in those fields, simply because they are misplaced.

I want to emphasise that those who identify what they are born to be and their talents have, without doubt, excelled at their crafts and professions. Those who attempt to be mechanically made into something they are born not to be, struggle all through their professional life and can never reach the level of efficiency that those with talent are known for, even when the latter have no university or formal training in the areas where their talents lie. Now, one wonders, if everyone’s talents are identified and developed, how far would Uganda be?

Mr Bwesigye is a founder member of Innovations for Youth Empowerment and Development
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