THE New Vision recently reported that "170 Law graduates fail LDC course". A month ago, there were media reports of the same institution dropping 10 students over failing exams.
Whenever I read about such headlines, I am left pondering whether we are not unnecessarily overemphasising the passing of exams.
Is good quality education all about passing exams? What about the practicability of the acquired skills? Our education system is lacking in many aspects. But we have instead adopted a simplistic approach of measuring results by grades and worse still, heaped the blame of failure on the students.
A research into the characteristics of good quality education indicates that the quality of teachers is a very important factor in attaining good quality education.
The research emphasises that, actually, quality of teachers should not only be examined on the tangible traits like how many academic papers, experience, or grades they scored but also in the intangible traits like the belief that all students can learn and the belief in their teachers' own abilities.
That is the ability to promote learning, ability to connect with students and demonstrate that they care about every student as an individual and emotional objectivity where teachers should be able to address disciplinary infractions without becoming emotionally involved.
Definitely that would not be achieved given the overwhelming numbers of students in the universities currently.
If we considered the above set of traits, you would agree with me that they are largely lacking in our universities and higher institutions of learning.
There is little or no belief that all students can learn. For example, starting this academic year, students who want to pursue a degree in law at Makerere University will have to be subjected to pre-entry exams.
This also puts the teachers' ability to promote learning at stake. If the teachers, are really willing to promote learning why would they deal with only those students deemed "qualified" for the course as per the pre-entry exams?
Dr .Eric Hanushek an economic policy researcher once put it that: "It is not that somebody knows the current science, because the current science may be wrong, but it is that somebody knows how to learn about new science...how to learn to do something they never thought about doing when they were in school. That is the key element".
This actually stipulates that it is the students' willingness to learn something new that should be examined not what they actually know.
Some advanced countries have adopted the no child left behind (NCLB) Policy or law whose implementation and success still points back to the quality of teachers.
Quality of the teachers should not be taken to mean having a master's degree, in fact research shows that master's degrees save for the mathematics and science subjects, have negative impact on the achieving quality education.
Our college teachers should thus stop throwing the burden to the students because they actually have a pivotal role to play in as far as high quality education is concerned.
It is for this reason, that I think the introduction of pre-entry exams for law students at Makerere was not only financially inconvenient, but was also on short notice, greatly affecting a good number of students who wished to pursue a career in law.
Secondly, I think there has to be practicability in the entire education system. The first class degrees and quadruple A's that students get in abundance should be reflected in the country's economic growth and development.
It does not make sense for a country that registers awesome performances every year at each level of education to have as many as 85% of its youth unemployed, very few in entrepreneurship or Industry, technology and other sectors, not even agriculture.
We should thus strive towards job creation, innovation, imparting practical think- out of- the- box skills to reap from educating our population instead of focusing on the theory and passing of exams.
Writer is the Ntenjeru South MP.