If you my reader is not natively Ugandan then welcome to Uganda, where a vacation comes only after completion of an academic level. At least in normal circumstances. Whereas wherever you are from people go on vacation to cool off and wind down regularly, that is not the case here. Contextually speaking, that is called a holiday in the banana republic. It is only when one concludes seven, four or two gruelling years of school in Uganda that it is said they are going to take a much needed vacation. As for you my Ugandan reader, I’m not going to labor doing the math for you, you have either witnessed what it is I’m going on and on about or will experience it when you do come of academic age.
Mid this week, UCE results were released and only two weeks back, PLE results too were released. Once those results are released, that is a loud signal that many a vacationer (what many a Ugandan call a “vacist”) is living on borrowed time outside school environs and will any time be back to a gruelling academic life. Except if the vacationer completed their UACE.
After the release of results, it only takes between two-three weeks for the vacationer to be bundled off to school again. Depending on how fast one is able to get a vacancy in their school of choice and how fast that school is keen on getting the academic year for its formerly candidates started. In as much as the Ministry of Education sets a timeline, it is not a must that schools follow it to the letter, that is only a guideline for them to follow. Private schools normally resume study for formerly candidates earlier than government (public) schools. That means for a vacationer attending a private school, the vacation is even shorter by may be a week or two. However, while those attending public schools stay home a while, the duration is still insignificant. Only a handful of days.
But this is all a new trend. It is not even decades old. From the few accounts I gathered from those who were blessed to see the sun before me (those born before me), vacation or vac as its profoundly called was awfully long back in the day. I’m talking about the days before privatisation of the education sector. Before every corner of this country had a mushrooming private school vying for supremacy in academic disciplines alongside public schools. In the day, when all that there was, was a public school.
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At the completion of one’s exams and conclusion of an academic level, one took off a handful of months away from school. It was not only a preserve of those who had completed their UACE. Those joining Senior (form) one joined midway first term, their counterparts joining Senior (form) five checked in as first term was drawing to a close. And, in extreme cases (this is hard to believe but it did happen) Senior Five students at times started their academic year in second term. That means one would have sat home eating, sleeping and farming (not watching TV or Facebooking -those are inventions of the yesteryear) for nearly half a year.
When old folks give you a recount of what it was to be a vacationer back then you cannot help it but envy them.