The Law Development Centre wasn’t ready for the Gen Z and it’s fun to see

Author, Benjamin Rukwengye. PHOTO/FILE. 

What you need to know:

  • At the time, a teacher was required to be in the formal employment of the government of the day, qualified and certified to teach, serving and physically present in only one school.

I used to have a good analogy to explain the evolution of things. It used the example of how marriage and the act of jumping each other’s bones has morphed – if you are Christian – from how it was apparently designed to be, to all the inventiveness and choices we see today.

But because I am not sure whether this paper’s policy has the elasticity to let me go on, I’ll error on the side of caution. Instead, let me use a family-friendly example to explain the evolution of work and education – and what we need to be doing – to prepare for the future. Both my grandparents were teachers at some point in their lives. We are talking years before many of the people reading this column were born. At the time, a teacher was required to be in the formal employment of the government of the day, qualified and certified to teach, serving and physically present in only one school.

If you wanted a basic description of my work today, it wouldn’t be farfetched to call me a teacher as well. Yet, I exist in a totally different context from the one that my grandparents worked in, to shape the future of hundreds. First, I will probably never meet 90 per cent of the people who go through our study and mentorship programmes. Two, we don’t need certification and very rarely know where our students, in their hundreds or thousands, are in the moment.

But that’s not all, because as the description of a “teacher” has evolved to keep with today’s demands, so too have the roles and demands. Where teachers were primarily required to manage a classroom or subject scheme of work, our roles now also involve fundraising and managing budgets, communication and publicity, people management and networking, and everything between that.

In both instances, however, what hasn’t changed is that the place and mission of the teacher in a student’s life to do whatever it takes for the student to succeed. So much that if and when a student fails, inquiries must be made of the teacher and the examination, before coming to the student. These sorts of reflections are important if you are looking to explain and understand what is going on with Uganda’s Law Development Centre. 

World over, the practice of law is exclusivist and apparently, “not every man’s posho.”  In fact, a quick over-the-top scan will show that Uganda’s leading legal hotshots come from anything but humble backgrounds. This is also the context in which the LDC exists and has operated as a monopoly, since its founding in 1970. It was going “okay” for a while, probably because the pool was smaller; and therefore silence – whether out of fear or acquiescence – served everyone. 

But this is not the 70s, 80s or 90s; if things have changed everywhere – for better or worse – how could they not at LDC? It is also inconceivable that a school, anywhere, teaching anything, can have a failure rate of 90 per cent and not offer any scientific explanation, why? Even worse, not bother to release individual students’ marks, so they can verify, and know what and where to improve. 

It is ironical to think that lawyers, considering the pomposity with which they carry themselves, can be cowed. But that seems like the case in this instance, where an all-powerful institution has gotten away with it, because they are a law unto themselves.

Well, until they started to enroll Gen Zs! They don’t come from aristocracy, so they have no name or wealth to protect. In fact, most have suffered their way through education, watching their – often – single parents enslave themselves for their education’s sake; while some have had to scrape off their meagre earnings, beg, borrow, or even hook their way through law school. That law degree and Diploma of practice is their one-way ticket. It gets them a seat at the table even if a meal isn’t guaranteed.

They know they will survive somehow and don’t suffer the politics of respectability that those who came before them were burdened with. 
They’ll be taking and sending nudes and setting thirst traps, while also speaking on high level panels and writing research papers. They know that the world is their oyster and that they are here for a good time, not a long one. Don’t bet against the kids, root for them!

Mr Rukwengye is the founder, Boundless Minds. [email protected]