School exchange programmes are necessary 

Friday May 14 2021

Theodorah K. Katagata

By Guest Writer

Let me build a case around Nelson Mandela’s quote, “No country can really develop unless its citizens are educated.” Conversely, most elite bourgeoisie are surrounded by ‘The wretched of the earth’. The former, too proud, treat the latter with disdain invoking hatred and jealousy. Can they possibly work together to transform society? 

There is a sharp difference between being educated and learned. Indeed, “an educated man is not, necessarily, one who has an abundance of general or specialised knowledge” as Napoleon Hill aptly wrote in, ‘Think and Grow Rich’, “ An educated man is one who has so developed the faculties of his mind that he may acquire anything he wants, or its equivalent, without violating the rights of others.” Truth be told, we have more learned fellows than educated ones in society today. Education comes with civility. 

Sadly, most of the learned fellows grossly lack it! Sure of their envied status, learned fellows, puffed up with crude mentalities, often behave primitively which negates the essence of education, inter-alia, churning out civil torchbearers!

Incidentally, most of the transformative works Uganda has and continues to benefit from do not come from the crème-de-la-crème  of society who speak English ‘through the nose’. 

With their heavy accents indicative of their background, rural graduates are known to be loyal and high-level organisational performers. I have had the experience of studying from both semi-rural and urban settings and as an educationist, also widely interacted with products from both settings, and I can, therefore, confidently say there’s a gap that needs to be proactively closed.
Gladly,  Ministry of Education and Sports is steadily transitioning from emphasizing academics and integrating the Four C’s or the 21st Century skills: Critical thinking; creativity; collaboration and communication, to churn out balanced graduates. Godliness must be emphasised, too! 

These skills and a godly character are essential both in school and later, in our social and occupational relations. Academics are not all there is to education. Broadly, education should be more about how meaningfully [well] we should live and work with others. 


You probably know first class graduates who cannot work well with others because they are either too academic (abstract) or social misfits. Life, at its best, ought to be balanced!

Youngsters must be exposed to varied experiences to broaden their perspectives. National values must be emphasized and mother tongues taught. 

Our quest to cause social transformation necessitates a fair grasp of our history and nomenclature which can only be best appreciated by first understanding one’s mother tongue! 

Mandela further noted, “If you talk to a man in the language he understands, that goes to his head, if you talk to him in his own language that goes to his heart.” Socio-economic transformation and other aspirations rise or fall with our ability or inability to confidently and effectively communicate our ultimate desires. 

As Irving M. Copi, American philosopher and logician observed, “Careful and correct use of language is a powerful aid to straight thinking for putting into words precisely what we mean necessitates getting our own minds quite clear on what we mean.” 

We all cannot be at the same level, but social stratification should be more of a functional symbiotic mechanism enhancing mutual respect and interdependence rather than perpetuating disharmony, thwarting societal transformational synergies and beatitude. 

Poor soft skills; low self-esteem, plus, crude and primitive mentalities point to inadequate social exposure which breeds negative behaviour detrimental to harmonious co-existence, community transformational synergies and thwarts nation-building efforts. 

To avert such, I implore the Ministry of Education and Sports to find ways of working with all sector stakeholders to champion rural-urban school exchange programmes!

Ms Theodorah K. Katagata is from Buhweju District.