Like it or not, family is the basic unit of society. The old adage rings true—east to west, home is the best.
COVID-19 has brought us back to the drawing board of family economics.
God could have easily created 2 million people in Eden and appointed a presiding officer to lead them. But in his sovereignty, God instead created a man, and a woman as his co-regent.
In the wake of COVID-19 here in Uganda, like elsewhere in the world, schools were closed along with other places of mass gathering. Most of us thought it would be for a short season, but as months are rolling by, many private schools’ owners are considering closing schools indefinitely.
This is due to the economic pressure the pandemic has exerted on the school system. School owners do not know how they can sustain teachers for a period they cannot even predict, especially while not generating any income.
Parents, on the other hand, are not sure that they would send their children back to schools even if they opened tomorrow, for safety reasons.
Being a homeschool dad, I have had so many people tell me things like: “You people who chose to homeschool had great foresight!”
Homeschooling has become a buzzword, not only in Uganda, but all across Africa. I have never been so busy at a time when so many are losing their jobs! I’ve been engaged in phone calls, WhatsApp messages, and visitations at our house.
I have also held Zoom meetings for groups in Ghana, Rwanda, South Sudan, Zimbabwe and Cameroon. The questions from all these places are the same: How do we homeschool? Where do we find curriculum? How cost-effective is homeschooling? What about socialization? And so on.
The Importance of Family
I wish to contend that a family is not just a basic unit of society, it is the only aspect of society which can be self-sufficient. Whereas many other facets of society cannot do without others, the family was designed in such a way that when all else fails, it is our base camp to which we resort.
In the context of family, God established economics, education, politics, and morality. Coupled with the idea of voluntary associations where one family can ally with another family, a lot can be accomplished in this organic environment.
One of the things COVID-19 has exposed is how unreliable the corporate world can be. Tradition has it that education and economics belong in the family. For many of those who are still unsure about homeschooling in Africa, this uncertainty is mostly due to economic and legal factors.
Families have been made to believe that they cannot do without both parents going away from the home to fend for their family. This is because in most cases, if a family is to homeschool, one parent would choose to work while the other stays at home to pay attention to their children’s education. It has been freeing for many to realize that one parent can actually stay home and integrate their children’s education with a family business of a sort.
True education happens in such a context, where the lessons learned are experimented in a real-life situation such as a family business. And by business we are not only referring to direct income-generating ventures. In the context of family, everything—chores, conversations, the teaching of morals and etiquettes, and academics—is part of a family’s economy.
Before the advent of modern, formal, institutionalized education, every African was a home-educator. Life rotated around the home. A family was indeed the basic unit of society. Business, education, politics, sports, etc., were all done home-based. Voluntarily, families associated with other like minds for cooperation in all aspects of livelihood.
Could we find ourselves giving thanks to COVID-19 for getting us back to where we belong?
Godfrey and Olga Kyazze are home educators in Uganda involved in pioneering this form of education and strengthening education in general in East Africa. Send them an email.