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November 26, 2013

Education is Not a Government Responsibility

By Godfrey Kyazze

For about two months, Public School Teachers in Uganda have been on sit-down strike. They have not been going to teach and this happens to be the final school term which determines the students’ promotions to the next classes. It has all been due to less pay; they have been demanding that the government increase their pay and the government claimed they did not have the money to increase teachers’ pay. We have a saying in one of our dialects here that says, “Where two elephants fight, it’s usually the grass that suffers.” This has been true in this government and teachers’ standoff, where at the end of the day, it is the parents and their children who suffer.

It’s against this backdrop that I would remind parents—who are the main losers in this game since it is your own children who are missing out—that what we are seeing in our society today educationally is a symptom of a bigger problem, which is tied to parents’ abdication of their responsibility in the education process of their own children.

Children do not belong to any institution but to parents. Children do not even belong to government. They do not belong to schools; neither do they belong to teachers. The primary person God gave that child is you, their parent. And the person to be held accountable by God over any child is the parent. In the Bible we see it clear that God places the lonely in families, not in Institutions (Psalm 68:5-6). Our problem in Education has been since its institutionalization—which in Uganda dates way back to 1925 when the central government started taking control of education in the country.

Godfrey Kyazze and children
Godfrey Kyazze reads with his children

When the Bible talks about Education, it is basically addressing parents. The role of education of a child belongs to parents. There are two problems happening in our society at the same time. First, like I have already said, parents have abdicated their responsibility in pursuit of wealth, career and the pleasures of this world. Secondary, the governments have not in any way helped; instead they have multiplied the problem by usurping the role of a family unit in the education process of children.

I believe in every child being educated by their parents or the parents’ representatives. The representatives in this case could be teachers, but these teachers must do it well knowing that they are taking on delegated authority, and that they are primarily serving or helping the parents and are accountable to the parents of these children, and not the government. For example, consider schools that are private and whose parents have a high degree of involvement; it becomes hard for such teachers to strike or to absentee themselves. When the parents know that it is their responsibility to reward their teachers, they will be accountable. But things that usually belong to government, no one ever wants to take responsibility.

It is a high level of micromanagement if government comes to determine what my own son will learn, when, how and who will teach him. Now government officials are interested even in how I discipline my son! This is unbelievable. How can you imagine that a parent does not know what they want for their own child? In any case, if parents are ignorant, the solution is not to take away their role. Instead, remind them or equip them so they can play their role better.

Parents, wake up! No one is to make your own child for you. It is your job. Start teaching your own children or hire your own teachers or start your own parent-managed schools in your communities where you will be able to hold those teachers accountable. Otherwise the more we abdicate our role and someone else hires teachers for our children, how can we complain if tomorrow they start to teach them, for example, that it is okay to be homosexuals; there is no truth; every man is your enemy, including your father? These things are happening just below our noses to our children in the schools where we are not.

Godfrey and Olga Kyazze are homeschoolers in Uganda and curriculum writers. Send them an email.

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