In recent times, a peculiar trend has emerged in Uganda as parents and guardians shower their children with cash bouquets and various notes of Ugandan currency or US dollars during the ongoing final national examinations. Videos of these acts inundate social media, ostensibly aimed at motivating students to excel. However, this ostentatious display of support has stirred a debate, with opinions sharply divided on the matter.
Parenting coach Mr. Dickson Tumuramye has expressed concerns that this practice may have adverse effects on students who do not receive such financial rewards. He argues that in schools with students from diverse economic backgrounds, those excluded from such gestures may experience feelings of guilt and low self-esteem. Such students might perceive themselves as outsiders, unfit to belong in their schools. Tragically, this emotional turmoil could lead some vulnerable students to contemplate drastic actions, such as suicide, or put them at risk of abuse.
Moreover, Mr. Tumuramye warns that students who receive these monetary gifts may lose focus and concentration during a critical examination period. This excessive attention to financial incentives could inadvertently raise parents’ expectations, adding pressure on students to achieve better results. The fear of being stigmatized if they do not perform well may negatively impact their emotional and social well-being, further eroding their self-esteem.
Mr. Tumuramye calls for schools to intervene and prevent parents from distributing cash to their children within the school premises. He suggests this would promote equality and fairness among students.
On the other hand, Mr. Augustine Mugabo, the head teacher of St Henry’s College Kitovu, criticizes the practice, dismissing it as “rural excitement.” He questions the affluence of those who exhibit their wealth in such a manner, emphasizing that no financially secure individual would resort to such ostentatious displays. Mr. Mugabo also disapproves of the idea that planned children, who are presumably nurtured with care and resources, should be treated in this manner. He deems it regressive and implies that only profit-driven schools would entertain such publicity tactics.
In contrast, Ms. Prossy Twesigye, a parent in Kampala, disagrees with Mr. Tumuramye and Mr. Mugabo. She argues that the varying financial capacities of parents should not deter those who can afford such gestures. According to her, the world is not built on equality, and it is crucial for parents to impart this lesson to their children.
State Minister for Higher Education, Mr. John Chrysostom Muyingo, supports Ms. Twesigye’s perspective, asserting that encouraging and motivating students in diverse ways during the examination period is a positive approach. He emphasizes that different families may choose to organize parties or provide monetary incentives to support their children during this stressful period. For him, the key lies in the diversity of approaches that cater to the unique circumstances of each family.