#SchoolsMadeMeBetter. Yes – me.
By doing what schools are supposed to do, all my schools combined made me better. See, I was lucky because I wasn’t sent to school just to get good examination grades. Of course, those were expected as part of the return package, but that package involved much, much, much more.
That’s why I was sent in at a young, tender age and expected to emerge as an adult ready to take on the world and make a mark on it, rather than have it mark me.
I went in with very little in my mind, meagre amounts of flesh on my bones, and no worries in my soul.
I had to change, through school. Not by way of the classrooms alone, but in the field, on the schoolyard, in the dormitories, the corridors, the staff room, and on the roads walking to and from the various schools, and in the cars when they carried me across.
Even as a very young child I was a Daydreamer and fantasized every chance I got, but learnt to bring my mind back to the real world and put my feet on the ground, my hand to the pen and my pen to paper.
I was an Inattentive child yet came out having learnt to identify when it was important to pay attention, and how to do so in order to turn that importance into useful action.
I was Easily Distracted, and still am to an extent, but learnt how to turn away from my distractions when I needed to, in order to achieve clear objectives – the importance of which I had learnt to prioritise through paying attention.
I was Immature yet found maturity in many ways, from the simple ones like stretching out meagre resources and learning to survive in relative hardship, to the complicated ones like dealing with feelings – mine and others.
I was Weak – VERY weak, yet developed strength and found how to be powerful or even appear powerful in spite of my weakness. The lessons still work to this day …
I was Shy, and believe I still am yet I developed ways of overcoming that shyness to speak in public, approach complete strangers with bold requests, and to hold my own in very unfamiliar circumstances, surrounded by people I have never met before in countries I have only just walked into for my first time ever.
I wasn’t born with sportsmanship, teamwork, humility, courage, diligence, and a long list of other attributes that I possibly wouldn’t have been able to spell, let alone develop, if I hadn’t gone to school.
#SchoolsMadeMeBetter because they took hold of my little infant self and moulded me into an acceptable adult with responsibilities that include raising several other infants into acceptable adults – with the help of schools.
So that they, in turn, one day turn up with the statement #SchoolsMadeMeBetter.
See, #SchoolsMadeMeBetter, even if I didn’t pay enough attention to stay there long enough to earn the right to use letters such as Prof. and Dr. in front of my name.
By the time I earned my university degree I had had quite enough of the official part of ‘school’; and it was only years later that I worked out that the unofficial bits that I so enjoyed were a deliberate part of our time there.
The rules and procedures that we tip-toed around and dodged and broke and shattered were nothing compared to what we have going on in the real world, but thank God we went through that! All that close supervision and tight management by teachers and prefects was just practice runs for us to appreciate stuff like government authority and even the occasional askari.
The fun and games that we focussed so much of our time and energy on were sometimes the distraction that in real life exists with such ferocity that I really get amazed that we actually do stuff like work, take kids to school and even go to Church. That sensor underneath the skull that makes us do the right thing instead of the fun thing, a.k.a. responsibility, was inserted bit by bit every single day during all those schooling years.
The appreciation that not everybody out there thinks like my parents think, and their parents before them, only came to me when I got to school and met up with children whose parents did the one hundred and one things my parents did not do. Even the understanding that some families out there didn’t speak the same language as ours, only came to me when I got to school.
#SchoolsMadeMeBetter in the sense that if I had picked the wrong pill that morning before I was first dispatched to Baby Class, Morpheus would certainly have sent me down the chute leading to a life trawling through garbage skips for cigarette ends and things to tie round my waist for the amusement of the general public as they drive or walk past me to their daily jobs.
I may have been good on my own, but I am sure #SchoolsMadeMeBetter because of all those teachers I sat in front of for so many hours, who seemed to be larger than life regardless of how fascinating, fantastic or even downright boring they were.
The fact that they got to stand up there in front of all of us made them “big people” with a difference. I knew back then and know that even now they were the lowest paid of all the professionals out there, but they still turned up (most of them) and did their jobs with a passion that confounded me.
They didn’t teach me only english, maths, science, geography and the more complicated subjects – I didn’t pay enough attention to that; they taught me patience, perseverance, diligence, a sense of duty, responsibility, resilience, respect, patriotism and heroism.
#SchoolsMadeMeBetter in very many ways, and I’m not going to stop using #SchoolsMadeMeNoBetter to relive those days and do this self-therapy.
#SchoolsMadeMeBetter in very many ways.
EVERY so often one falls upon a random story that carries no excitement until one exercises the brain a little bit.
‘Fred’s Bicycles’ was started a few years ago by Jonny Coppel and Tom Davenport, in London, after Davenport visited Uganda on holiday one year and “…saw the ‘beautiful’ bikes used by farmers in Uganda to ferry cattle…”, at which point “he immediately saw the appeal they might have back home.”
More importantly, this story underscored to me once again the importance of a good education, rather than the instructive one-plus-one-equals-two type of schooling many of us got.
This is not to say that all British young men who visit Uganda are well educated enough to do what Davenport and Coppel did, but the fact that they came over here and identified opportunity out of an item that we actually despise as a sign of poverty and backwardness, means they are well educated.
The bicycles they talk about were not even designed or made in Uganda; from the photos on the website, these are what we used to call Hero bicycles, which eventually gave way to Roadmaster Cycles.
One other website containing a research paper by United States university Professor Jason A. Morris, even states that the Hero Bicycle was “originally built in 1913 for the British military, and it has not changed since”.
This researcher came all the way from the US to Hoima to design a bicycle for Ugandan use to replace the Hero and Roadmaster bicycles. His efforts are available in that research paper but I, personally, know nothing of the results being on the road.
What about the realisation that on the day I fell upon this story of Uganda’s inspiration, I saw three stories in one newspaper talking about sums of money being earned by Ugandans -Ushs100billion, Ushs15billion and Ushs400million – yet none of these will ever be converted into bicycle manufacture, assembly or anything similar anywhere in the country.
Wait! Wait! What is the most notable bicycle story YOU can think of…? Yes! The one in which Permanent Secretary John Kashaka was convicted over the sham importation of bicycles worth Ushs4billion, right?
You would probably have been less confused about it if the 70,000 bicycles in question there had been ordered direct from the Roadmaster Assembly Plant in Nalukolongo, wouldn’t you?
But according to the Public Procurement and Disposal Authority (PPDA) Investigation Report into the matter, Roadmaster was not even one of the bidders that successfully submitted bids – which list included names such as “Nile Fishing Company Limited and Shinyanga Emporium”.
I swear – go to this link for the full report and see for yourself!