For the last three years, UWEZO, an NGO that highlights children’s literacy levels, has been telling government and whoever cared to listen that the literacy and numeracy levels in UPE schools are disheartening to say the least. But if anyone paid attention, it wasn’t showing.
Now with Kyosiga’s Dream, a 25-minute film that premiered last week at Cineplex cinema, Uwezo hopes to drive the point home: without parental and community involvement, the learners’ future is at stake. In the film, we are taken through a rural setting with dilapidated households and struggling families. The protagonist, Kyosiga (Nasser Kezimbira), portrays the life of a rural child’s experience who lacks parental involvement.
Kyosiga is the unfortunate child who engages in a myriad of chores before running to school: he has to fetch water, wash the utensils and by the time he is done, he is late for school at Buyinja primary. He doesn’t pack any food for lunch and when he requests for some money, his father is of the view that children don’t go to school to eat. At school, Kyosiga, who is always late, misses most of his lessons and when the revision papers are returned, he has a measly 8% in Maths. At the mid-morning break, Kyosiga sits alone with nothing to eat as his jolly peers have food.
At home, no one has any kind words for the hungry youngster and on the rare occasion the father checks his books, he sends him to the teacher to find out why he is failing. According to the teacher, Kyosiga has the capability but lacks parental support. At the end, when Kyosiga’s parents get involved in his school life, he becomes active, consults his teachers and his grades improve.
Irrespective of what the film showed, Kirunda Kivejinja, former minister of Information and National Guidance, believes the UPE programme is satisfactory because every pupil is in school. Government will only have to deal with the issue of jobs later because for now, education is the priority. But Fagil Mandy, an education consultant and board member of Uwezo, was concerned that teachers in the film are shown spending time giving exams instead of teaching.
“This is dangerous because pupils do not learn by sitting in class but through emotions and physical skills. Pupils can only be active when they are fed and if their parents show concern,” Mandy said.
The film also shows that the community is an important stakeholder in the education of a child. In one scene, the community is shown using abusive language which children can easily adopt.
“How else can this community improve if there are no educative programmes to punish such ill behaviour?” Mandy asks. Uwezo Uganda executive director Richard Ssewakiryanga believes that with Kyosiga’s Dream, parents and the community can improve on the quality of education. “What leads to quality education is not paying teachers well but joint effort from all parties,” Ssewakiryanga said. Copies of the film will be offered to the Uganda Bus Operators Association for showcasing on the various upcountry buses.