By Kenedy Musekura,
Recently, the media carried a story that government was to open medical schools. Ever since March when Covid-19 broke out in Uganda, it appears President Museveni is only listening to doctors or scientists as he likes to call them and perhaps they are the ones that lobbied hard for their colleagues in the profession to resume studies. I will return on this latter on.
Prior to that, stories were coming out to the effect that the Ministry of Education was approving some universities and other higher institutions of learning to teach online. Fine, education requires to shift to the new normal. However, how it is being implemented leaves a lot to be desired.
For instance, we are not told whether all the courses at those universities or institutions, have been shifted online and if not, what about those courses that are practical in nature and requires hands-on training or whose existence is next to impossible to shift online?
If National Council for Higher Education (NCHE) is approving these institutions to teach some courses online then what is the fate of those that are being left behind? How are universities going to teach some students while others are looking on from home?
For those who have already commenced digital learning, how will universities schedule their graduations with those who were not studying their course? Of about 50 universities and hundreds of higher institutions of learning in the country, only a handful have so far been given a green light to shift their education to ICT, what is the fate of others? And is there a criteria that NCHE has in place to fulfil or it is simply approving those institutions that are good at lobbying for their own interests? Whose agenda is disguised in rushing to online but whose grand scheme is to see how they can milk students or parents of tuition to revamp their otherwise crumbling institutions so as to keep afloat from the effects of Covid-19?
Are parents having an input in these new developments? For instance, are they being told that now their students need gadgets like smartphones and laptops and perhaps the Internet for their students to use?
Education is structured in such a way that every class feeds into another. Therefore, in light of such programming as NCHE manoeuvres for higher institutions of learning, what about secondary and primary schools whose ‘tributaries’ feeds into higher institutions of learning?
When NCHE or Ministry of Education are coming up with such measures, are they putting into consideration the constitutional provisions like Article 30, which enjoins all Ugandans to a right to education and a cocktail of other provisions that prohibit discrimination of any kind?
On the issue of science, it is high time President Museveni started listening to experts outside the medical profession, especially on pertinent issues affecting the country.