Today January 24th 2023 is the International Day of Education, a day celebrated in honor of Education as tool for empowerment, civilization and justice but also a fuel for skills and economies. As the norm, Youth Rising International subjected youth across Uganda to an essay challenge, to talk about how education is influencing their communities and how Ugandan government can further prioritize it for her citizenry. And here is the winning essay.
Essay Challenge Winner: Elizabeth Nagawa of Seeta, 16, a senior four student at St. Joseph’s Girls S,S.S. Nsambya
Education continues to be a fundamental pillar for sustainable development; this argument is supported by the tremendous contribution made by educated people as well as institutions of learning at different levels in my community. However, some people argue that education comes with negative influence mainly around stereotypes, bad habits, uncensored materials and miss information picked by learners from peers and teachers at school. The point here is to address the rough edges in the education system while optimizing the positive outcomes.
Through formal and informal education, a number of people use acquired knowledge to live meaningful lives, protect the environment, participate in leadership, find employment as well as to create jobs for others. In the past, women and girls were relegated to the margins of society including in education; with affirmative action and increased awareness, the position of women in education continues to be strengthened; as a result, more women are now able to occupy key leadership positions and contribute to National development.
In addition, educated people are able to assert their rights and for others hence contributing to peaceful coexistence. Furthermore, education institutions continue to play a critical role in advancing community
development through talent development, innovation, research, consultancy services as well as other community outreach projects; to this end, higher institutions of learning offer a platform for revolutionary ideas and ground-breaking solutions to contemporary challenges across various sectors; against the backdrop, a number of breakthroughs in vaccine development, epidemic control, pest control, disease surveillance as well as technological transfer have been realized.
Despite progress and remarkable effort made by Uganda in prioritizing and expanding education opportunities for citizens, more effort is still needed to sustain achievements and shorten the remaining gaps. The best solution is to increase funding towards the education Budget; although the sector budget increased slightly to 8.6% in 2021/22 and 2022/23, the money is still not enough to cater for urgent critical needs like; providing mid-day meals to learners in government aided schools, enhancing teacher’s salaries, equipping schools for the new curriculum, providing vital infrastructure to say the least.
Whereas, significant efforts were made by government to increase salaries of science teachers, Arts teachers were not catered for despite the fact that both groups face the same economic conditions; for this reason, it is difficult to attract quality art teachers in government aided schools while many teachers often resort to side jobs something that compromises the quality of education. Moreover, education is increasingly becoming expensive in Uganda as private schools charge exorbitant fees; therefore, equipping government aided schools with quality teachers and facilities will certainly help to bring down the cost of education as parents will see no reason for paying more in private schools.
Furthermore, government should strengthen its efforts towards enforcement of national educational standards so as to address exam malpractices, corruption and corporal punishment which negatively affect the education outcomes; lastly mechanisms should be put in place for learners to give feedback and advise on how best to improve their learning experience.