OpEd

Why parents should not stress over top schools

Fortunate Ahimbisibwe

By Fortunate Ahimbisibwe

In the early 2000s, I went to Makerere University with students who had come from what is traditionally known as ‘top schools.’ In the first days of the semester at the Department of Journalism, some of us from average schools were intimidated by these fellows because all they talked about was the glory of their former schools.

If anyone asked which school you came from, you would have to accompany it with four paragraphs to understand where the school was. These other fellows only had to give the short forms. As things progressed, results from course assignments started coming in and we were all struggling to hit 70s.

In everything, we were the same apart from these fellows speaking a little ‘slang’ that we had no idea where it came from because it wasn’t even in the Oxford dictionary.

There wasn’t much of a difference between ‘us’ small mortals from small schools, and ‘them’ big mortals from big schools.

Three years after, we left university and we all went different ways into different hustles. The chaps from top schools were struggling as much as we were to find jobs and keep them. It’s highly unlikely that anyone will give you a job just because you went to Kings College Buddo.

A tiny percentage is only likely to succeed just because of the school they went to. A lazy student will still fail even if they went to a top school. I joined university with 16 points from a school 400km away from Kampala, this must have been an equivalent of 22 from Kawempe Muslim, Kitende, Seeta High School and others.

At the end of the day, success is personal hard work and some circumstantial factors and of course a bit of luck.

When I joined The New Vision, my main job was to examine the education system of our country, little wonder I ended up at Ministry of Education and Sports (this name has since changed to something I can’t remember).

Parents will go to extremes limits to make sure their children get to these top schools. I helped two friends ‘fix’ their boys at SMACK, both fell out before sitting O level. I helped another young lady get into Gayaza who later couldn’t take the pressure of the school.

Its important to send children to schools where they have a competitive advantage. It’s equally important to look for a wider perspective of how a school teaches and raises its students other than simply look at how a school performs in exams.

Most of these results are deceptive. Our examination system is very weak and examinations in most cases are compromised. Parents out there, send your children to normal average schools and follow up on your children’s personal progress. If you send children to places like St. Lawrence, you all know whats likely to happen.

The whole reason Universities allow students with two principal passes to join University is because they know any students who hits this threshold has capacity to study a course of their interest and succeed with it.

The writer is a senior Ugandan journalist who extensively covers the education sector and is now on a study sabbatical in the UK

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