The moments are ecstatic, and there will be all sorts of prizes, from goats, to chicken to i-pads and am sure St. Lawrence will throw in a car. Every year, 3 times a year, we celebrate our aces, when the National Examination results are released by UNEB. Every year, its the same cry, what exactly do these results imply?
A little under 13years ago, yours truly was covered in The Daily Monitor, a Christian boy had beaten the odds at a moslem school, and excelled, 10 in 8. The odds were many, for anyone who has gone through Kibuli SS. The drama that ensued was not just celebratory, what was I going to study at A-Level? My dear late mom was convinced i should go for medicine, my headmaster agreed. Me? Computer Science. Its funny how at O’ level you hear youngsters talk of these big career paths, yet the subjects they will sit one month away for the next 18-20 months are so detached from reality. Anyway, to swallow my won words, do not underestimate them – i keep telling people, as early as S.2, i knew i wanted to work with computers.
So the battle begins, PCBM or PCM or PEM? I wanted PEM, the world wanted me to study PCBM – and all this was based on my o’level marks. The irony is that my marks represented more Distinctions in Arts subjects (Ain’t they that easy – English, History, Geography, Maths, CRE, i even studied Political Education) and minor distictions and credits in sciences (Physics, Biology and Chemistry). So on the basis of my marks alone, there was nothing i should have been doing near PCBM and Economics.
As it happened, I had my first term in the PEM Class and my second in the PCBM Class, and 12 months later, i failed. That is, according to the standard that was expected of me, that i had so ably displayed. At Kibuli SS, there was (i hope still is) a cardinal rule – passing A’ level was about getting Government Sponsorship to your first (or second) choice course at the University. Anything short of that was a fail. According to this rule, i did not fail. But there was one more rule – it was simple, it was mine – to study computer science! In 2006, i graduated with a BSc in Computer Science.
My experience taught me a thing or 2 – first that you never ever write off someone based on their marks, the reverse of course is that you should not let the high scores get to your head, as so regularly said, pride comes before a fall. But secondly, and most importantly, is that you (educators and parents) should craft an environment that nurtures desire and talent and dreams at an early stage, and not try to funnel this generation’s high fliers into courses (and indeed careers) based on their marks.
A Side Note
The Monitor (page 2) today carries a picture of one, Micheal Mubiru who scored 1AAA in PCB/M. Micheal, Congratulations! BUT what are you doing in a class? Is this in St. Mary’s Kitende? Are you a qualified Teacher? Do you have a Certificate in Education? Or anything close? Aint you supposed to be in Vacation? True, you are probably very much needed in that position, but what happened to the systems? Were you formally recruited? Do you have an appointment letter? Which grade are you? Teaching Assistant? Look am not against you, am against the blatant misuse of your brains and resource, based on a flimsy excuse that you would have sat at home anyway, and so this is a good way to spend your time – doing good!
Guess what, you are cheap labor. That’s what you are to your employer. Am willing to bet your boss has not given you a proper appointment letter. You know why? Because you will get onto the payroll, and there will be NSSF and PAYE to pay. I doubt these are in place, against your name.
Of course i could be wrong… as a friend suggested, you could be paying your student loan, as a Lab Assistant (this school would need a lab, as i still don’t think that makes you a qualified Teacher, let alone Teaching Assistant). But what the heck, do we even have qualifications for these positions?
I wish the Government had a plan where bright students like you can get internship jobs in Schools where you are needed the most, by filling out your vacation with a Certificate in Education, or something, that not only makes you a great personal resource (read: brain matter), but also a great resource to your area of influence (your former school) by instilling pedagogy and other such skills that make you into a great teacher. People like you often get victimized – that great brains don’t always make great teachers – i disagree totally.
You see Micheal, people who were not like you , who failed O’ level are the ones going to become Kindergarten Teachers, they are going to handle the most critical years of the children you will give birth to. And the ones who are on the opposite end of your A’s, they are (some of them) going to become primary and secondary school teachers. Some of your teachers, who guided you to your A’s were a product of such a cruel system. People like your employer have been long in this system, enough to know what to change, and yet the system has stayed the same.
And now we celebrate the likes of you – and sadly, the story we have been told before, makes it feel strange to have you in a Class. Far from it, I would prefer more of you in the classrooms across this country, after all, a system that nurtures you would have put you up in an Education course, on the promise of a job, so you might not even go to University for a conventional degree (medicine, pharmacy, engineering – and the one you might have put as your 1st choice), but would be helped and in 3yrs, you would be doing what you love (teaching), in the subjects yo knowledgeable (AAAA in PCBM) with the right enabling skills (an appropriate course in Education).
Right now, am concerned, that you are a great brain, in a terrible system, and a worse labor machinery, that is out to exploit you! Again, congratulations on your excellent results.