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David Ruzicka International Wheelchair Floorball Federation (www.wheelchairfloorball.

org)
Czech Rep. +420 724 520 940 UK +447 440 225 427
Head Referee

Austria +436 646 311 379

To: John Mary, Chris Blake, Adrian Ssemukasa, Charles Waliggo, Martin Mugerwa, Thaddeus Kweyamba, Ben Marley, Robbinah Nabuloli, Godfrey Ssonko, Jan Mwesigwa, Benjamin Bakkabuliden, Bannet Rugyira, and anyone whom it may concern 6th Sept 2011, Nairobi / 22th Nov 2011, London

Feedback from the field Dear John, let me frankly thank You for introducing me to Buganda, allowing me to get to know the marvelous landscape and some of the most inspiring people I have ever met in my life. I have met over 600 students from five high schools and professionals from six local NGOs. Since I believe that the best way of conveying to You my sentimental gratitude is to give You feedback on my stay in the region, Im doing so. My pain is what Harold Nicolson, a British diplomat, summarized as follows: We are all inclined to judge ourselves by our ideals; others by their acts the eliminable pest lying at the roots of all charities which could do better. During 1990s, there was roughly one charity per 1300 people in the US. Today, the ratio is 1:200.1 The unprecedented pace of change in the world makes the will of organisations to learn and change more rewarding than ever; even before, the speeding competiton punishes the reluctance to do so at the same scale. Needless to say, it bears implications for both the URF and the Hope Academy. With George Athiambo, a Nairobi-born consultant, we have looked at the world from the perspective of occupational life and identified following shortcomings of young professionals which a) we perceive to be more EDUCATION common in the East African region than elsewhere and, b) are not, on average, targeted in education of these future professionals: Absence of communicative openness. The culture of slow response is firmly rooted, it manifests for instance in ubiquitous vague answer it is comming. In meetings, discussants sometimes repeat word for word what the previous speaker said while, on the other hand, very rarely following up on each other.2 Lack of self-esteem. Tendencies to feel that a Western product is generally better, rather than assessing it on case-by-case basis. Sometimes, Western approaches are needlessly copied. Lack of inventiveness and striving to think outside the box or traditional norms. Every good organisation has to rethink its mission consistently and control for meeting set goals. So should the Hope Academy, currently stating to inspire lives, build hope and academic excellence. When we are rethinking the mission, we shall bear in mind that there are essentialy two groups of tasks that our students will perform later in their professional lives. Firstly, tasks with defined rules, and secondly, tasks undefined. In such a model, any kind of innovation would be an undefined task (the outcome is unknown, she doesnt know what she will come up with as yet), while practicing law or medicine would commonly be found within the group of defined, rule-based processes.3

David Ruzicka International Wheelchair Floorball Federation (www.wheelchairfloorball.org)


Czech Rep. +420 724 520 940 UK +447 440 225 427
Head Referee

Austria +436 646 311 379

Nelson, a teacher at HA, has pushed for the academic excellence part of the mission statement of HA. While I agree it is certainly desirable to achieve academically, I would like to warn us to not to misunderstand what it means. To achieve, students have to improve their sharpness, not to become masters of our current curricula. As Steve, a DHM at Blessed Sacrament Kinoni, put it, the ultimate goal of a contemporary Ugandan school is almost invariably to teach a student to get good grades without considering how what she has learned will help her after school. Often, comprehension is not achieved students attain information but not necessarily knowledge. Consequently, the outcome of an average school in the region, including the Hope Academy, is a student more prone to get (a white collar) job. Contrary to what a mzungu might think, Athiambo says that in Kenya, orientation on formal tests is especially pressing in private schools. George and me would rather like to see schools trying to produce students who will create jobs for themselves (and others). Not only that; seing the twenty-first clothing store in a small village is nothing short of great, but seing a venture operating on a wholy new idea is astonishing. Thus, what is distinct on academic excellence? Is it, a), possessing a wide database of reliable knowledge and having the ability to infer correctly (in other words, knowing how to get to the knowledge with some rigour)? Or, b), is it scoring high in our contemporary curricula? Here are very concrete measures I would go with myself: Let students speak up in classes as Natalie and Aaron did in the Leadership seminars (let them overcome fear of speaking in public by making it a routine) In hard sciences, rely as much as possible on conclusions which were empirically/experientally verified in classes, that is demonstrated. Cooperate with Amys TASTE (The African Science Truck Experience, www.tasteforscience.org). In science and liberal arts alike, scholars usually take down the scaffolding after putting up their intellectual buildings, leaving little trace of the agony and uncertainty of construction. At times, it is much more worth to the student to go step-by-step through the process of doing a scientific discovery (nowadays taken for granted) than to know the conclusion itself. Deliberately put up a false hypothesis and let it turn out in the class that its destiny was a destruction!4 In liberal arts, dont let students make yourself the exclusive intellectual buttress, letting them to recite you without thought. Ask them to write essays.5 In light of the previous point, as deity comes down to the mankind, it inevitably becomes a subject of endless interpretation. In the ever-globalising world, Id suggest having Comparative Religious Education (learning about all the worlds religions instead of the Christian parochiality) Exercising case problem-solving skills, encouraging use of poignant, material answers in communication and underlining the importance of keeping up to ones word.6 Informal education (interacting with peers, teachers, people of different backgrounds is the best way to understand the world; getting broader is crucial in acquiring selfesteem and boostering creativity)7 Temporary expulsion and other substitutive measures over canning may be desirable. Dont ask yourself how to make the Hope Academy the best school in the region. Instead, imagine what would you like the alumni profiles of HA students to look like in twenty years.

David Ruzicka International Wheelchair Floorball Federation (www.wheelchairfloorball.org)


Czech Rep. +420 724 520 940 UK +447 440 225 427
Head Referee

Austria +436 646 311 379

Compare the imagined relationships between the grades and the desirable profiles of students, and whatever the answer, lead the discussion about the Ugandan education system in which currently, the PLE is almost the sole arbiter of success. An exceptional platform for discussion about contemporary education is the World Innovation Summit for Education available at www.wise-qatar.org. I wanted in the Jane Francis Library! At the URF website, I had read: students attending over 15 other local schools have access to academic resources they would otherwise not have.8 As I was dusting off the books at the library some of them of great quality it did not seem to me that this access is accessed. Based on ideas of Ben and Thaddeus, however, climbing gear and cement is presumably now being replaced by benches, and the librarys use by HA students encouraged (it may be worth to think about a metabolic9 benefit system for students using it). However, there is still the note about 15 other schools at the website. If we dont want to update it, we shall advertise our library in the other schools and build a firm platform for its fruitful use. There lie books which are not accessible in the best libraries in the region. Simultaneously, Kenya Data Network which is setting up optical fibres along the highway has just passed the Hope Academy (contractor was the Green Future). This bears a potential whose size is hard to exaggerate. Speaking of the library, it would be good to make a common online database of educational materials avaiable in Masaka, Lwengo and around. This can be done in cooperation with some talented and willing high school students in the West who would otherwise spend their webdesign classes building their own websites. As Im finishing, let me alert You about some more nuanced gaps between the website and the ground. We use a lot of buzz-words on our website. This in turn requires lot of caution to not to find ourselves lying. As an example, we celebrate sustainability on the MANAGEMENT website. However, building dry stands as it is done, fits under any heading but Sustainable. One of the following options could fit: Many local people, including some HA students, are capable of building splendid dry stands on their own. They can teach another one how to do it and thereby pass it on la pyramide. URF should introduce some mark for value, timebank for instance. Partially because our work with dry stands is free, being delivered out of kindness without a threshold, it happens that villagers dont have the sticks they were told to prepare. The URFpayed staff should not be repeatedly returning to such places without a flicker of punishment. As a major remark, we shall publish financial statements on the website. The more digestedly made and the more consistent with reality, the more trustworthy the URF appears. Keep in mind that some volunteers will not return to Africa, hence we are major artists copainting their lifetime picture of Africans. If anything said above is unclear, one matter does not allow for a compromise. It is honesty. Openness is conditio sine qua non of any good organisation and it is irrespective of culture. Response, at best critical, is most highly welcomed at ruzicka.cz@gmail.com Staying with gratitude,
David

David Ruzicka International Wheelchair Floorball Federation (www.wheelchairfloorball.org)


Czech Rep. +420 724 520 940 UK +447 440 225 427
Head Referee

Austria +436 646 311 379

1 2

Data of NCCS, US Census Bureau and Wolfram Alpha. There is a story very worth spreading in Uganda: At an academic event, a convener asked a distinguished professor to deliver a two-minute speech. The professor declined, saying he would have to knew two days in advance. The convener was surprised and asked how much time would the professor need to prepare for a two hours lesson. The professor answered: One hour. And what about a weekend seminar? the convenor continued wondering. The professor said: We can start immediately. 3 Perhaps contra-intuitively, there is evidence suggesting that the most profficient performers (including outstanding doctors) extract their mastery from their intuition rather than some rule-based manual. The knowledge gained in textbooks or in lessons seems to be later in life overlaid with the crucial layer of intuition. See for instance KLEIN, H. KLEIN, G. Perceptive/Cognitive Analysis of Proficient Cardio-pulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) Performance. Paper presented at the Midwestern Psychological Association Meetings, Chicago. 1981. Quoted in FLYVBJERG, Bent. Making Social Science Matter. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press 2001. 4 When inferring from the observed to the unobserved, discipline students thought by forcing them to make every step of inferrence they make public; sharpening their sense of causality. 5 Currently, many students dont feel like they benefit from writting an essay since a) they have never tried it, b) an essay does not influence a bit of the grade which in turn has high impact on ones future, as compared to the West. 6 We shall decide what is worth calling a culture. For instance, the perception of time in Africa in general, and in Uganda in particular, in itself, is part and parcel of the charmed culture. Reporting about it, however (i.e. saying I will come at 10 instead of simply saying in the morning), is not matter of a culture anymore. Hence, not coming at 10 when promised commes down to be unreliability even in Uganda. 7 Naturally, foreign volunteers can serve for this purpose as well. There are two extreme volunteer schemes for a charity like URF experience generating travel agency or selective HR department. Currently, we are rather the travel agency; we use a professional-looking application form where we ask for academic credentials and experience, however, I wonder about serviceability of this form. To be sure, it does not reliably reveal a person who has a very weak moral code, perhaps a pain in the ass for the local staff. On a side note to the Volunteer Website, we write in bold that $300/month [is not a donation, it] is simply used by the host family to house and feed [the volunteers]. Since a comparable organisation in the region charges volunteers $20 for the upkeep, I dont think the use of the word simply is adequate here and we should reformulate this. 8 http://www.ugandaruralfund.org/what-we-do/education/community-library-computer-center/ 9 Reward their understanding of a book, not the sole act of borrowing it.