Riding a Wounded Donkey — The Untold Truth!
Nothing excites a hungry man like a boiling pot on a cooking stove. His worst heartbreak comes at a time when he realizes that all along, they were boiling stones rather than food.
Academic starvation is not a joke and at a time like this, any learning opportunity is a seed of gold to any school-going child.
We are truly grateful that our Ministry of Education has our children at heart. Do our children and their parents really have a right to more demands? Our televisions are flooding with lessons. All they have to do now is pay for their DSTV, GoTv or Startimes subscription and voila! School is back in session! The few who can’t afford Television can buy some data and watch these lessons online. Isn’t that great use of technology in the country?
By the way, I am sure some will complain that they neither have televisions nor smartphones. Worry no more! All radio stations are broadcasting these lessons. What else does one have to complain about? One has to be very ungrateful to complain!
Now let's talk about the Untold Truth! Uganda has both the urban and rural learner setting. For a long time, the rural learner has been the wounded donkey! Despite hunger, lack of scholastic material, overcrowded classes, long distances to and from school, they desire better living standards. It’s these conditions that have made them hopeful and brave that education will be the pivot of change in their homes.
Imagine a Primary Five (P.5), 12-year-old Ndego Brian, living in Bwiwula — a village deep in Mayuge district, Eastern Uganda, dreaming of becoming a doctor. When his mother died, his father disappeared. Today, he lives with his grandmother. On a normal day, Ndego’s grandmother hardly finds what to eat and survives on a few cassava plants in her compound. Because of this, Ndego has to get involved in sugarcane cutting to find some salt for home. When you mention television and radio teaching to this family, it's like you are narrating a certain movie to them. If it is so hard to find what to eat, how much harder would it be to own a radio? But this is just one of the stories.
Joseph is a hawker and a single father to five school-going children. The idea of lessons being broadcasted on the radio is exciting! But he is worried that his children are missing out because he does not own a radio. He laments that because of the lockdown, he has hardly made a shilling because he can’t go to people’s homes to sell his items.
These children are only a few of thousands of other schooling children in rural areas whose hopes are fading and face uncertainty if lessons are broadcasted only on television/radio. Is this a reminder of what the Bible says, “ Those who have will be added onto and those without, even the little they have will be taken away from them”?
I am so excited about television/radio teaching but my dissatisfaction and pain lie in solidarity with that of these rural children who don't know what online teaching is, whose families have no capacity to own a radio or television but only struggle to find a day’s meal. These children need extra support.
This situation brings to mind Marie Antoinette’s alleged remark, “Let them eat cakes!” when the peasants complained that they did not have bread.
Don’t these children deserve equal opportunities to learn? Doesn’t their education matter anymore? Where should their hope/help come from?