My excuse for taking a while without posting anything is because I was reading other blogs and my personal reading of books that are mostly suggested by your work. I know it is a cheap one. I have no one to blame. Anywho since my thoughts are not niched I will talk about the education system as a business, not a service. Talk about it as service is more of a ticket to prison since am not even a teacher, I have no credibility to open my mouth.
At the beginning of this year, my little brother started a small school. He is an expert in early child development and sign language. His major reason and objective were to experiment if he can figure out how to make education cheaper. Over the past 15 years, the cost of education has been increasing and if we’re not careful it’s going to become uncontrollable and may result in serious problems for the country. You must all have realized it was not the best time to venture into the education sector because of the pandemic that is before us. But who knew, we can not even blame the World Health Organization because it’s foolish to. This is the second pandemic in my lifetime the first one was declared too early it didn’t materialize so this time WHO waited and empty heads are all over the operations of the organization. Back to education. Health is for another day.
Uganda is the only country where the government does not own schools meaning the sector is free. it’s controlled by the forces of demand and supply. Even when the Uganda national examination board administers exams, they are not fully credible. This is what I imply, to join some institutions even if you have a certificate from the Ugandan national examination board you will be required to do another interview to prove that you are worthy of joining. It’s no secret that some secondary schools give interviews to Students before senior one and to join law school one has to undergo a form of pre-entry test. Meaning the state has no control at all in the matter. Someone was about to say I belong to the deep state. No, I elucidated because I fear prison.
So today I’m here to talk about the education sector as a business. We don’t know when the authorities will give a green light to school opening because we as a country have not reached the peak of a virus yet, it may even pass, meaning it’s a long way from the possibilities. We don’t need to go back to normal we just have to work around what is happening. New normal has been part of humanity since the start of world wars that are into the end of third generations now. They study in Gaza and Syria as bombs rain, why should we stop. After all, scientists say this is the weakest of corona viruses and it won’t be the last this decade.
Since the schools are private and operated like businesses, Like any other they have run out of liquidity meaning they can’t meet all their day-to-day operations. what does that mean? Of course, we can’t expect any form of stimulus because they’re privately owned and private businesses are never bailed out by the government financially. At least it has never happened in Uganda, not to my recollection. Even with the IMF money coming in. Since I don’t work in government, I have no idea about what that money is used for or where it is spent.
So this is my take. In an event, we are to live with the virus we as a society need to adopt expensive measures. keeping in mind the ongoing economic downturn.
Most schools are to blame they have been putting up expensive facilities in the bid attract students. These facilities are expensive to maintain. By now they have depleted the finances. On top of that to ensure education goes on, the temperature will have to be taken On a daily basis using equipment that will cost money. To monitor the health of students. Then there will be social distancing lessons that will have to run via technology most likely on laptops. Keep in mind with schools that can’t even own a computer or employe a teacher of computer. Am not writing a sitcom people and trying to picture the new normal. I wonder how then do you tell them about Wi-Fi to enable social distancing. I hope you’re getting a picture of costs now. Wait remember when they said students in villages should get food flasks and parents should get cars and not put kids on bodabodas to school because they are dangerous. Oba ndagawa katino.
Let’s talk about the sleeping area, for boarding schools. These are normally parked meaning social distancing is impossible increasing the risk of spreading the virus. Apart from those schools where you sleep 8 or 10 in a dormitory. Let’s remember students in Ugandan schools come from across the country. Fellow bazukolo the drama of sending kids to one end of the country in better schools, at the same time people from that end sending this end for better schools should be rethought. That increases the risks of spreading the virus. Have forgotten the others that come from out of the country, maybe this East African Community thing is not an illusion after all, but what is the point when foreign students pay a slightly higher fee from the locals. Back to the costs of the possible new normal. Some big schools (assumed big) are even talking about recruiting epidemiologists to monitor things. I personally wonder how beneficial that is, but am no expert in the area.
As a country, we hate adopting new things especially if it comes to financial restructuring. With the economy down Schools to think about lowering school fees, meaning they have to reduce operational costs, reduce teacher salaries, or like other businesses layoff some workers. A reality no businessman can openly talk about. Of course many are not willing to do this and they will not. This will force parents to automatically take their children to cheaper schools in turn affecting and reducing the earnings of some schools which may end up going under or resort to mergers and takeovers.
What happens to schools that have been aided by non-government organizations. Since some NGOs will be leaving the country or scale down operations this is going to leave very many out of the education system causing a dent to the sector as a business. There are very many businesses that feed off the education sector from paper production to other scholastic paraphernalia, all these are going to be affected. For schools that have been struggling in 2020 maybe the last time, they are seen.
The idea of opening only to finalists and candidates is not economically viable because they are too expensive to be operated alone and only insiders know the full sense of this.
With this pandemic that many are tired of talking about, what would be left of the education system that was already not making sense? Who is going to be responsible or we should leave it to the teachers since they own the schools. But it’s certainly going to take a combined outfit by society to save the trade because it is not just a service in our country.