Give farming skills to all school children

Michael J Ssali. PHOTO/COURTESY

What you need to know:

  • If a school has a poultry project, a dairy cow project or a coffee growing project, such a school would have its own sources of income that would greatly supplement government support.

We have to thank our president for emphasizing the importance of farming in job creation in his Labour Day speech. He thinks, quite correctly, that the youths can earn good incomes by growing crops such as coffee, and to keep livestock like poultry or piggery. 

This is an excellent idea especially nowadays when they can take advantage of loan schemes such as Parish Development Model. More and more children are accessing free education under Universal Primary Education (UPE) and Universal Secondary Education (USE).

However the education provided in our schools should prepare our children to achieve what the great African Educationist, Mwalimu Julius Nyerere, called self-reliance. 

If the child comes from a farming household that child should return to his home every school holiday with new farming skills acquired from the school to share with his parents on the family’s farm. In a basically agricultural country like Uganda, agriculture ought to be a compulsory subject for every student in all our schools.

The school should be the source of new farming ideas and innovations to be spread out to the surrounding community. 

The school should be the place with model gardens of crops such as coffee, maize, beans, and the rest of Ugandan crops. The school should be the demonstration place for community members to visit to observe the best practices for keeping cattle, poultry, piggery, and fisheries. The schools should be learning centres for agricultural skills that are shared widely in their surrounding communities. Schools should be the places for all our children to learn about accounts and book-keeping skills. 

The quality of education that we give our children should prepare them for self-employment as farmers when they leave school instead of going to do ‘modern slavery’ in the Arab countries. 

When the president blamed the youths for not taking up farming as a way of self-employment upon leaving school he was probably not aware that hardly any agricultural skills are taught in our schools. 

Only very few schools indeed have functioning school gardens and poultry houses for giving practical farming lessons to their learners. 

Schools would even be cheaper to run if they all carried out farming activities. 

If a school has a poultry project, a dairy cow project or a coffee growing project, such a school would have its own sources of income that would greatly supplement government support.

Mr Michael Ssali is a veteran journalist, 
[email protected]