What COVID-19 is doing to my dream
Essay from Jeremiah Lucas Opira Memorial Contest 2021
Author: Ocaya John Gerald
1st Runner Up, Category 2
Dreams; when someone merely hears that, many relate this phenomenon as some illusion he or she gets in the middle of the night or when in a deep sleep. Some being too short which makes you wish you could have had more and often probably makes you go deeper under the covers. That sounds scary! Right?
Gladly, this is not the case, dreams are simply “where” and “how”. You see yourself after a well sought out and thought-over period of time while keeping in mind all factors constant.
However, different people have different imaginary pictures of themselves in the future and this largely depends on the twists and trends one’s life has taken or is taking. This can be your dream career you want to follow, your family life and set up in the future or the car you wish to drive. The list can be countless at times for some individuals. I, like anybody else, also have a picture of what I wish for someday and my sole dream is and has always been to become an engineer working with some big company and this can only happen when I pass through college, which is an engineering school, and attain good grades. However, this dream has had an enormous setback, fuelled by the COVID-19 outbreak that has befallen the entire world in recent years. It has therefore affected the pursuance of my already set dream in a number of ways.
As the country had just started recording COVID-19 cases at an increasing rate, it prompted them to impose a massive lockdown which crippled various sectors of the economy and thus the impact was greatly borne by the education sector. No learning activity was to take place at the time as the government monitored the pandemic closely. This kept all learners home for a long time, hence delaying the process of finishing up with the course and potentially getting absorbed into the industry as planned.
However, from that time, the lockdown resulted in a loss of instructional time, as in the time the learner physically spends with the lecturer or a teacher at a college. Getting to learn things by only reading does not make one grasp the concept well and permanently. Not all concepts are easy to comprehend, others need devoted guidance and explanation from a teacher; the two hindered my learning process very badly.
In addition to the above, the books I have read, the research I did when at school as well as every knowledge gathered was fading more day after day the more I spent outside of school. It is never easy to keep track of all academics when not in contact with the school; this greatly slowed down my quest for the dream I was chasing.
Fortunately, with all these developments going around, technology was employed in the education system more than ever. And by this, distance learning became synonymous with technology. In my case, I faced challenges in accessing the technology that is through laptops, smart phones, and an internet connection among others. Lectures were conducted online during the time and I could not attend simply because I did not have everything in place. This therefore perpetuated inequality as some colleagues from well-off families could attend those classes with ease.
Resource disparities dragged me back a little, but I never stopped sticking by what I want for my tomorrow. This therefore provoked me to work harder and at least acquire a smart phone that could aid me every time there is an online class to attend.
I was enrolled in 2019 on a two-year diploma course in civil engineering after my Form 6. Up to now I have still not completed or graduated. Currently I aim for a bachelor’s degree in this field, but the pandemic is successfully delaying things for me.
The COVID-19 outbreak, and its subsequent lockdown had grave effects on the economy and therein reporting a drastic drop in the income of parents and guardians and mine, where all my needs came from, were not an exception; acquiring basic requirements for college was a challenge.
Emotional and mental consequences cropped up during the stay home in lockdown. The more we stayed home, the greater the physiological and mental pressure put on all learners, for example the uncertainties pertaining to the re-opening of schools among others.
Due to these and many other underlying disparities, the other factors besides the COVID-19 outbreak have all greatly influenced my quest and it gets harder with each passing day. The United Nations (UN) too estimates that the pandemic’s impact on the education sector will be greatly borne by low- and average-income households and in both private and public institutions.
In recent years, approximately 15 million children have dropped out of school, the greater percentage being girls in rural areas or up-country districts due to factors like early pregnancy, desire for bridal wealth from parents and family at large amongst others. This therefore justifies the low female literacy rates in rural areas with respect to urban or developed places. However, education is considered to be a powerful tool for growth throughout many sectors in Uganda. The country has even labeled education as a key component for driving social growth, economic development and transformation since becoming politically independent as well as helping to achieve a more united nation and democratic reforms.
In addition, Uganda’s vision 2040 which provides a path to becoming a more prosperous nation highlights education as a crucial mechanism for economic reforms and development and providing human capital.
Therefore, as the country is making reforms and shifting towards thar vision, I do not want to be left behind because that is a vision for me too.