THE YOUNG AND THE VIBRANT
A few days ago, I was given an opportunity through the Pamela Kadama Senkatuka Foundation to visit my old school to introduce the Career Guidance Programme to the Form 1 students. The foundation was set up in June 2015 to carry forward the legacy of a young ,enthusiastic electrical and telecommunication engineer who in her short life played the role of a change agent wherever she was stationed. She was an alumnus of Gayaza High School.
Because of the examples set by my father and the young, vibrant church Missionary teachers at my school, giving back to the community I live in is as natural to me as breathing.
As a Christian I am very much aware of what is required of me: To whom much is given , much will be required. ( Luke 12:48)
We are blessed not to contain but to bless others through giving and sharing.
Maya Angelou said: “When you learn , teach and when you get, give.”
My fourteen years at Gayaza High School endowed me with many remarkable gifts and abilities like Christian values and principles, the Never Give Up spirit and lifetime friendships. They shaped me into whom I am today. What I learned years ago on the school farm, during the housework period, in the school plays and on the sports teams still has meaning today. My way of giving back to this great school is to uphold its values and principles and become a role model and create young role models by the way I live my life.
Among the most thrilling words that one can be told are: “ When I grow up , I want to be like you- helping people and enjoying it.”
I have met many young girls who want to grow up and be like Dr. Specioza Wandira Kazibwe, a surgeon, wife, mother, and the first woman Vice President of Uganda or Julia Sebutinde, a Ugandan judge on the International Court of Justice.
These ordinary women struggled against all odds to become extraordinary in our patriarchal society! They ,changed the mindset and possibilities of young women much more and faster than the policies and laws on paper.
Many times, I have been thrilled to meet young doctors who became doctors out of the desire to be like me and women who became lawyers after seeing Mrs. Sarah Bagalaaliwo’s voluntary efforts to help women at FIDA- the Uganda chapter of International Federation of Women Lawyers.
On a warm , sunny day , a group of us including grandmothers, mothers and young women of different professions, spent almost two hours with the 280 newly admitted Form 1 students in that majestic school chapel. They were seated on the same pews that I had sat on decades ago! For some minutes , I was confused whether the school uniform had been changed since they were all wearing white blouses and black skirts. These girls aged between 12-14 years were the cream of the a thousand or so students who applied for admission to this 115 years old Church-founded school.This admission in itself confers upon them some form of privilege and burdens them with huge expectations from the school, family and society.
I hoped that it was not lost on them that privileges are always tagged with responsibilities, more opportunities come with challenges and that all choices have consequences.The students of the Class 2020, looked so young, so vibrant that they reminded me of my teenage years donkey’s years ago. They are today’s young ones, full of trust and optimism. In this digital era, they are the igeneration –defined by their technology and media use, their love for electronical consumerism and their need to multitask.
During my time- the Baby Boomer generation, the school was the epitome of social progress; admitting students from all the districts of Uganda. Miss Joan Cox(RIP),the headmistress of the time, would take off time to visit all the 35 or so districts, looking for bright, all – round students and encourage them to join the school. For the less fortunate students, bursaries would be arranged from their district education offices. I have to admit and with pride that the Gayaza High School of my time was the most integrated community in Uganda. This diversity of tribes would later pay high dividends to the students as they progressed through universities and their working lives.
Career guidance during my time took the form of old students of the school who had become teachers, doctors, physiotherapists, agricultural scientists, lecturers and some professional parents like the late Dr. F.G Sembeguya, being invited to talk to us about their careers and lives. The talks would be arranged during some selected Sunday morning chapel services. These exposures helped us to find our passions, gifts and desires. In between , the teachers would endeavour to advance our career prospects. As expected, gifted students who excelled at both Arts and Science subjects and were not sure of what exactly they wanted to do in life, would find it difficult to make the choices. Parents and teachers’ pressures prevailed upon them. Later in life, a few confessed that they had joined medicine just because they were good at the required entry subjects of Physics, Chemistry, Biology and others took up law because they were good at English, History and Literature in English and Geography. I know of a few who took up professions just because their fathers wanted them to. Of these, a few changed later to professions or vocations of their choice
That seemed enough at that time but we are now in the 21st century; times have changed and many things have changed. In this science and technology-driven era, students need career guidance much more than any other time in the past.
Why Career Guidance is so important today :
- The world is constantly changing and changing fast too. Change is now the new normal. Tomorrow is likely to be too different from today.
- Digital technology has radically changed the workplace for ever. Some jobs are disappearing while new ones keep coming up. Automation and the use of Robots have eliminated some jobs while at the same time creating some new ones. The office space has changed too- some people can work on laptops or iphones from home.
- There are no permanent jobs for life and there are no permanent skills in such a fluid work environment
- Since the English scientist Tim Berners -Lee invented the World Wide Web and released it to the public in August 1991, the world was reduced to a Global Village.
- This technology –driven era is a Solution –orientated: those who innovate and create solutions to the biggest challenges facing their communities like deforestation, plastics recycling and clean energy will build viable businesses and make a lot of money.
Career Guidance offered at the earliest time possible in the life of a student is extremely essential.
It directs the individual on the right path, helps her/him determine the direction of her/his life and to adjust maximally to the environment.
Through career guidance, students can make mature and informed decisions about their lives and the future.
At the beginning of my conversation with the students, I asked those who knew what they wanted to do in life to raise their hands, more than half did. I asked those who were not sure of what they wanted to do in life, many hands went up and then I asked those who did not know what they wanted to do, five brave girls raised their hands. I reassured them that at their age it was too early to be sure and it was normal not to know. Getting to choose a career or occupation is a long process that starts on the day you get to know who you are deep down but could change at any level in one’s life. What will matter later is for the students to acquire the skills they will need to survive and flourish in times of change; making them useful to themselves and useful and relevant to society.
Most of us know and the psychologists confirm that each individual is unique; having strength and weaknesses, likes and dislikes. Each one has unique gifts and talents if well applied, help each one to be integrated into society and to make a social contribution to the development of the country and the world at large. The moment one recognizes the great story that informs her/his life , he/she is liberated to explore ways of creating a life which facilitates the expression of that self. This long process starts at home and later follows through to schools , through university and through working life. Living your own story makes you feel deeply satisfied, feel that there is meaning in your life- it just feels right to be useful and helpful to others.
No life no matter how successful and exciting it might be, will make you happy if it is not your life. And no life will make you miserable if it is genuinely your own. You live your story day-to-day.
The happiest people in the world are those doing what they love and are being paid well for it. “ I ‘m doing this job because it is something I needed to do and because I wanted to give something of myself to others and I wanted to learn.”
As career Guidance is a process, and the global working environment continues to be dynamic, I have no doubt that I shall be visiting my school many times in the future to follow through our team work.
They say that,“ The hunt isn’t over until both your heart and your belly are full.”
The school still looks safe and peaceful so I would like to thank most sincerely all those teachers, students, parents , old girls and friends who have supported and maintained the school. To the teachers, thank you for helping the students to develop habits, skills and mindsets that build their social, emotional and academic capabilities. The school still promotes a sense of community and through sports, artwork, housework, student –designed projects and student-led conferences develops the “whole” student.
They say that, “ The future comes to us, one second at a time.”
QUESTIONS: Was it easy for you to determine which career you wanted to follow in life?
Do you think that offering Career guidance in schools helps the students to make their own decisions about their future?