Reflects Robert Bake Tumuhaise aka #MrInspiration
Throughout the year, I have been using this platform to share with you insights, principles and ideas that can completely change your life because my dream is to see the lives of millions of people transformed. Everyday, we rejoice as my team and I receive testimonies of dreams that are hatching and potential being unleashed. It does not matter what your dream is and what field you want to grow in – WORLD OF INSPIRATION will take you there.
Some of the people I’ve written a lot about in this 2016 are Dr Emma Naluyima and her husband Ssalongo Washingtom Mugerwa because of how much their revolutionary farming is changing the landscape of Uganda. As the year comes to an end, I felt I should share with you one of the most powerful things they are doing that surpasses most of what I’ve already shared about them and that is revolutionizing the education of the children of Uganda.
If there’s anything that needs to change for a country like Uganda to develop at a faster rate, for households to kick out poverty, it is our education system. For a number of years there has been a loud outcry about our academic institutions producing graduates who are job-seekers instead of job-creators. This is a trend that Naluyima and Ssalongo set out to challenge by building a model primary school last year. Their school MST – which stands for Mathematics Science and Technology – is now a household name. With the motto Little Seeds, Big Dreams, it is a normal primary school that follows the national curriculum, teaching all subjects taught in other Ugandan primary schools. But there is something more. The school gives much attention to the field of science and innovation. A well equipped science laboratory where pupils are exposed to lab work in P1 so as to enhance their minds for innovative thinking is in place. There is also an exterior art room where children’s artistic talent is tapped right from primary one. In addition, all pupils are given computer knowledge and skills.
MST does not stop at science. Children are also exposed to practical skills such as hands-on farming. “We want our children to grow up knowing that our future riches are in modern farming, not in oil – in soil not in oil. We want to inculcate the spirit of entrepreneurship amongst the children when they are still young,” explains Ssalongo. “In our school,” Naluyima adds, “we emphasize 3 things that most Africans have failed to teach their children – Time Management, Value of Money and the Culture of Saving.” I have been mesmerized by how Ssalongo and Naluyina use farming to teach these kids about finances. Each child is given a few metres of land. It’s the child to choose what to grow (some of them grow straw berries, others tomatoes, others onions and so on). The kids themselves plant the crops, create liquid manure from utine to fertilize their crops, water them and watch over them till harvest. When they are sold, the money is put on the children’s bank accounts. When the parent is receiving the report form for class work, he/she also receives a financial report for the child. This has made Agriculture the most favorite subject at this school (unlike us who hated digging for being used as a punishment).
It is amazing that these days when WORLD OF INSPIRATION takes adult farmers to Naluyima’s farm to learn, these kids are able to teach them everything Naluyima and Mugerwa are doing at the farm. Will such kids ever be unemployed? I commend this couple! They could have thought of starting a secondary school or a university, but they felt it best to invest in primary education because they believe that is the best age where a human being can be maximally impacted and shaped. In Uganda today, we have a generation of children who think that milk comes from a fridge and that onions grow in a supermarket because that’s where they’ve seen them come from. Ssalongo narrates a saddening experience. “One day,” he recalls, “I pointed at a tomato tree and asked a child from one of the good schools in Kampala who had visited the farm for project work what kind of plant it was. He said he did not know. I told him it was a tomato tree. He protested saying it cannot be because tomatoes are red yet the fruits he was seeing were green. In all his life he had never known that a tomato is always green before ripening to red.” It is such lack of exposure that Ssalongo and Naluyima are counteracting by giving maximum exposure to the children who go through their hands at MST Junior Academy.
In many Ugandan schools, extracurricular activities are generally dying because the schools are fighting for their children to get high grades. Hence, homework has replaced handwork. But not at MST. The school has a variety of sports and games, including basketball, table tennis, cricket, horse-riding and bicycle riding. As a trained teacher, I can tell you that these will help children develop a practical mind that solves challenges and creates new workable ideas. I am not surprised that Ssalongo Mugerwa taught Isaiah Katumwa, the internationally celebrated Ugandan saxophonist, while still in primary. He identified his talent and even bought him his first saxophone when he was 10 years old! This, with no shred of doubt, demonstrates Ssalongo Mugerwa’s ability to unleash children’s potential. What more would a parent ask for?
Before writing this, I asked Dr Naluyima and Ssalongo Mugerwa whether they have vacancies at the school for 2017 and they told me “Yes!” That’s good news for every parent. Their school is located at Bwerenga, 4 kms off Entebbe Road at Kawuku. This is the only school I have seen where a child does not take a mattress, books or any other things to use – everything is provided. Well, for those who wish to take your children to this school or have any inquiry, I will give you Ssalongo Washington Mugerwa’s phone number – 0772413273. When you call, tell him you got it from MR INSPIRATION and you will receive attention immediately.
May God give you a prosperous 2017! May you grow in your dream like never before.