So this morning i went over to Lohana Academy to try and get Gabriella into school for next year. It lasted 3 minutes, and the admission letter will be ready on Friday! Nothing like sign here, sign there, village, et al.
Co-incidentally, the conversation at work over lunch was about a frustration of the fees in schools, which have to be supplemented by those weekend classes, or else your child “will find it hard in the exams.” This colleagues goes on to say how this is the new way for teachers “to survive.” I think its the ONLY way, for over 10 years ago, i went through the same. I hated it, because i was sure of my grades, and i thought it was unnecessary for my mom to squeeze our meager resources further.
Basically, the teacher “offers” his extra services at the end of the week, by scheduling some classes. He lets the class know about them, and asks them to consider joining, at a very modest fee, something like 10K per child per day. Suddenly this science teacher, now morphs into a Maths, Social Studies and Sciences Teacher, and splits 9am to 4pm into various sessions to cover each of these 3 subjects. Ofcourse, at the end of the term, the questions in the exam are familiar to a certain group of students, who appear to have really benefited from the extra help of this teacher.
Parents, stereotyped by the UNEB standard to get a 4, are then duped, from as early as P.5 to consider the “services” of this teacher, as the miracles seem to be working, in the life of their child – brain dead or otherwise. By the time PLE arrives, the experience of this teacher and his colleagues can be pooled to really give the kids more than a fighting chance at passing the PLE.
Lets go back a little on this:
Shouldn’t the fees we as parents pay in the first place be enough to motivate this teacher to perform his job in the normal hours of school? Lets say you are paying this teacher a net of 600,000 UGX per month. 10 children, paying 10,000 per Saturday rake in 67% [tax free mind you] of his monthly salary, for a mere 24 Hours a month! Am not asking the school to check this out, am asking you the parents, because, the teacher now makes 1M UGX per month, all from fearful parents who have already contributed the other 60% of his net gain.
Do the children need the extra help? Perhaps, after all, we as parents let them train off TV, never read a book, think that speaking English at home is taboo, and eventually get duped by this ethically unaccomplished teacher that he will get our children to pass. Yes, to pass, that’s the new goal we parents have! That’s why 10,000 UGX per Saturday is nothing. Try as hard as you may, but your child is not duped when the questions discussed on Saturday are the ones in the exam – its only a matter of time before they realize it was a salient form of cheating. After all the ones who don’t come on Saturday have no idea about question 13, 14 and 15.
What about the conflict of interest? Do you really expect a teacher to come on Saturday just to explain osmosis that a bunch of dimwits didn’t understand it on Thursday afternoon? Parents, are we so naive? #nuffsed
As every corrupt system in Uganda, there is graduation, or better, an adaptation. At secondary school, because of the rampant (and perhaps necessary) moonlighting, its only logical to pretend to be a published teacher, by churning out those “pamphlets”. From the web, ” In order to count as a pamphlet, UNESCO requires a publication (other than a periodical) to have “at least 5 but not more than 48 pages exclusive of the cover pages”; a longer item is a book.” Yes, you know where am going with this. He comes and encourages the class to buy his pamphlet, as they are the ones with the best subject matter – any reason why he just cant give the materials in class? Or donate honorary copies to the school library? Or better still, deal with the school, to give every A’level student a complimentary copy (the cost of which no Ugandan school will love to carry, instead, sneak it into the school fees)…
What then do we do as parents, we sit pretty on the PTA and secretly pay these extra fees to these teachers, but never make mention of it in the PTA meetings. Why, because we fear that our children will be maligned or, simply, they will fail. Whereas we recognize that all this knowledge is not the teachers’ own intellectual property, and as such need only to pay for their services in nurturing (and/or molding) thinking, contextualization and application of this knowledge in the little minds of our children, instead we are happy to pay for graveyard shifts of coercion, cram-work and cheat sheets.
In the eyes of our children, we are our very own worst enemies. As examples to our children, when you pay that money to an individual out of fear, out of lack of a system (or confidence in the current one) to guarantee the complete, and full delivery of the original service (plain old teaching), you, my dear loving parent, are now (and already) corrupt and corrupted!
Dedicated to Timothy Sejjoba, the Teacher!