By Brian Dugas
Kampala, Uganda–On Tuesday, July 8, we visited Kisubi Brothers University to meet with young Ugandan teachers in training. And yesterday, July 9, we went to the Bishop McCauley House, headquarters for the Congregation of the Holy Cross, District of East Africa, an organization that is doing great things in education here in Uganda.
Believe it or not one of the things that really shocked me was the similarities in many of the issues we are facing in education in both the United States and in Uganda. Before we left the U.S., I read an article from a young Virginia teacher who had decided to leave the field of education after just six years of teaching. The amazing thing was that in this short time he was recognized as “High School Teacher of the Year” four times. This obviously talented young man identified lack of pay, layers of bureaucracy, overemphasis on testing, and ever-increasing requirements as many of the reasons for his departure.
And now here we are in Uganda discussing many of the same issues. The teachers here are paid low wages, they have enormous classes, inadequate funding, poor facilities, and layers of bureaucracy that boggle the mind. Imagine my surprise! In our country we are struggling to find ways to raise the level of education in many of the same ways that they are trying here in Uganda.
Perhaps the most important thing that I find in both countries is the number of committed men and women who are willing to face the challenges of education. It’s sometimes hard to remember that we are here for the benefit of the children. They are our future and they deserve the best education we can offer. The definition of a good education has changed over the years, and it is very different in the two countries, but I’m starting to feel optimistic that we will eventually find the answer. It’s reassuring to recognize that we are not alone in our struggles.