I have a personal culture clash with Ugandan education when I consider seven of our seventeen children are now in boarding school. In America, say “boarding school” and we have a few quick responses:
- rich kids
- super smart kids
- too busy parents
It is so rare in America for a child to go to boarding school. I read “Adopted Twice” by Michael Reagan, sharing stories of his feelings of abandonment as his parents sent him to boarding school. It left me feeling much of his adult difficulties were directly related to a lack of hands on daily parenting. (His parents were hollywood stars, and eventually president of the USA)
So when I am told we have spent the past five years establishing a loving nurturing holistic home for our seventeen children so that at P7 they attend compulsory boarding school, well, the grief I feel is deep. But in Uganda this is the way. And as children grow up in their school system they want to follow the footsteps of those whom they admire, attend boarding school, study hard, and perform to make everyone proud and hopefully reach a good occupation for independent living.
Boarding school in Uganda is more common than day school. If parents can afford the extra couple hundred dollars a year to board rather than have their students commute they prefer it. It can cost less than five hundred dollars a year per student. The cost always depends on the standard of the school.
It is so different from what we practice here in America. And I’m having a hard time with it. I think children should be carefully watched, loved, heard, well fed, counseled, and have free time for reading, play or games. I will never agree that twelve hours of study a day makes a person smarter.
I’ve been so firm since the beginning of Kirabo Seeds to keep the practices of our home Ugandan. We’ve tried hard to keep our American ways out of the way for the children to grow up comfortable and acclimated to their own culture. (But they do really love the treat of PIZZA…who on earth doesn’t?)
But. And there’s always a but. I definitely want to tear down this school structure, erect our own education schedule and teach them ourselves to suit my belief that a comprehensive approach to education can be effective, productive, and time efficient.
How is it possible that my son Jack has excelled in the university led homeschool program for four years by having school only four hours a week for four days a week? Couldn’t we set this up for our Kirabo Seeds kids? Or something similar?
But if we do this we are at risk of being openly dismissive of their cultural way of education. I feel shameful of the arrogance in this. So bold. So risky. The five children who are in P7 will have to board for secondary school as well and they might not even be able to go to the same school. Their placement is based on their test scores.
So is that it? At 13 or 14 our kids are basically in the care of their boarding school and we get them only on breaks? We just bought a house for these kids and now their beds will be mostly empty during the year.
While I lament over our loss of influence on our precious children, there’s some beauty in our rubble. The school our children attends has invited Kirabo Seeds to visit for one hour every Saturday at 5:pm to have a worship time and bible sharing opportunity. We were able to initiate this outreach last weekend! Our hopes is we will be able to share the good news of Jesus to all the children who board in the school.
Irene and Darren have set a schedule to visit each child individually to check in with their hearts and comfort or congratulate where needed on a regular basis. We’ll do our best. But I still wish it were possible to keep them at home. Yet… we are so thankful to have the opportunity to reach others in the community for Christ. Please remember to pray for the seven of our children in boarding school: Fred, Musa, Angela, Ronnie, Dickson, Denis, and Paul. And don’t forget the children at home who are missing their leaders and friends very much.