UCU student narrates journey from homeschool to formal education

By Pauline Luba
For 12 years, Precious Abangira Nimusiima didn’t know what it meant to sit inside a classroom in a formal school setting. From Primary Three until she completed secondary school, Abangira was studying from home under the tutorship of her parents. She has now joined Uganda Christian University (UCU) to pursue a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science.

“I liked the flexibility which came with the homeschooling program.” Abangira, a daughter of missionary parents, said. “If I had to miss for a few days because of trips, it was okay since I didn’t miss school or have the class leave me behind.”

Each morning, Abangira and her brother woke up between 6 and 7 a.m. to do house chores, after which they prepared for class. They would dress up in uniforms and proceed to the section of their home dedicated for classes. The section was equipped with a chalkboard and other essentials necessary in a classroom. 

According to the 21-year-old, a morning devotional prayer was always part of the program before the learning began. She said either of the parents would supervise their learning, depending on who was free that day. The curriculum is a learner-centered discovery method of learning.

Part of what Abangira learned included Bible studies, mathematics, English and grammar, science and history for their primary education and subjects such as geography, government, Literature and Economics once they joined secondary school. While the classes did not include extra curricular activities, Abangira often participated in sports and music. In the case of the Christian Liberty Academy homeschooling system, which Abangira was using, the parents of the children supervise them on a day-to-day basis, and then grade their work. The final grading and certification is done at the school campus in the USA.

Abangira was also part of a group for homeschooled children that often met once a week to socialize with other children, especially those in the same program. 

Homeschooling has not been a common practice in Uganda. However, it gained popularity during the 2020-2021 lockdown of schools in Uganda, at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic.  

In 2011, before many Ugandans got exposed to this form of education, parents of Abangira decided to homeschool their children as a result of their exposure to the system, which to them resonated with the family values they espouse. Francis and Allen Mutatiina, who serve with LIFE Ministry Uganda/, often travel to spread the word of God. Abangira says her parents would travel both within and beyond Uganda. 

Kenya and Rwanda are some of the countries the Mutatiinas traveled to as a family. As such, the couple, now married for 23 years, would easily supervise their children’s education everywhere they went.

And the Mutatiinas knew that their homeschooling model was biblical. In addition to increased  time parents spent with their children in their formative years, Abangira’s parents also often found justification for homeschooling in Proverbs 22:6: “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.”

Abangira now says some of the practices they often followed at home have remained ingrained in her way of life. She remembers the family always “sitting together, reading and studying the Bible” as part of the homeschool curriculum. This habit is still very much alive in the family, and in the life of Abangira.

Having accessed, used and taught herself computer-related information from the age of 10, Abangira now hopes to further that knowledge by acquiring a professional qualification as an Artificial Intelligence expert. 

Shockingly, during her formative years, a profession in computer technology was not anywhere among her priorities. She desired a course in human medicine. However, a few years ago, one of Abangira’s friends was diagnosed with cancer. As part of the treatment, the patient’s leg had to be amputated. Abangira says witnessing her friend struggle to buy prosthetics for his leg made her rethink the course to pursue at university. 

She now hopes that with added computer knowledge, she will be able to contribute to the development of more affordable robotics, especially for people living with disabilities.