The first time I emceed was at my former school’s 40th anniversary. That was way back in 2007 when I was in Senior Three,” Georgia Mwesigye, a social worker and emcee shares. Whereas to some, career identification and development starts at a later stage in life, to others, especially if given an opportunity earlier, it happens at an early stage. However, that depends on how these youngster’s potentials, talents and abilities are unearthed at lower levels in school, through providing different platforms for such discoveries. And promoting co-curricular activities in schools is one such platform.
Right from the time Mwesigye joined Uganda Martyrs Secondary School, Namugongo in 2005, she started with presenting in class, and because there was another platform, she read the weekly news for the school on the assembly. “I was joining an urban school from a rural one, so I needed a lot of encouragement which my teachers offered.
In 2006, I started acting in school plays since we had Music Dance and Drama events every year. I then started receiving certificates of being the best actress every year,” she narrates.
Aside from acting, Mwesigye discovered she could emcee, and she did not waste any time.
“Because of the experience and confidence I had gained from school, I got my first gig to emcee at a graduation party in my Senior Four vacation. From that time, I never looked back,” Mwesigye confirms.
Though she pursued social work at university, Mwesigye never gave up on her passion to emcee, but developed it into a fully-fledged business.
“I would host people’s weddings, and at my family’s events, they never hired an emcee. And because I was chairlady Complex hall at Makerere University, it gave me a platform to emcee at guild dinners. I have also hosted events such as the Mbarara MTN dinner and Kobil Uganda end of year dinners,” Mwesigye reveals.
Mwesigye is one of the many testimonies of people whose careers root from the push given by co-curricular activities during their time in school. It is this hope that keeps Angel Nayoga, a Senior Four student at Uganda Martyrs Secondary, Namugongo, alive to her dreams of becoming a chess champion.
Speaking at the school’s sports day that crowned off a three-weeks sports period, recently, Nayoga said, “My passion for chess started as a simple game that I played on the computer. The more I made the moves by just a click, the more I enjoyed playing. I eventually wanted to hold those pawns in my hands and play the real game on the board. With the help of my cousin, and now the school chess games, I was able to learn how to play,” she says.
Today, as Nayonga moves the pawns and castles on a real board, she already feels like a champion, active; like she is the only one who knows her next move.
“Not everybody is able to excel in academics, but also, not everyone will pursue an academic career. Co-curricular activities can therefore be the foundation on which someone builds a career,” she notes.
In addition, Francis Yiga Lule Muwonge, a Senior Six student at the same school notes that co-curricular activities build a holistic person. “They build an all-round person who can use these skills and manage to successfully brave the life journey. Imagine a person who is excellent academically, but also is a great sports person, dancer and actor, among others,” he says.
Having learnt swimming while in Primary Seven, Muwonge has further trained in both the breast rock and freestyle swimming styles and has been able to represent his house in the school inter-house competitions.
“The advantage co-curricular activities offer go beyond what we can imagine. They have the ability to build positive attitudes which people can apply in other aspects of life. For example, when you are in any race, the first thing you keep telling your mind is; ‘I don’t want to come last’. Though there are challenges, you learn to overcome them. In real life, that has given me a competitive spirit,” Muwonge says.
Indeed Agnes Ssegujja, the director co-curricular activities Uganda Martyrs Secondary School, Namugongo says: “The aim is to try and bring out talent in all the fields of a child, so that in the future they can have many choices of what to do. Students should not only be engaged in academics but also finding out their talents in the different fields. We know today that there is survival beyond academics. Someone can be the Hussein Bolt of tomorrow, they can be the best swimmer in the world, or win the country a gold medal, or do something with their lives in a different sporting field.”
Muwonge, however, notes that some students, especially girls shy away from some of these activities for fear of being seen. “For example pulling a rope in tag of war, or getting into water to swim because boys are there. My advice is; think positive,” he says.
Therefore, looking at how much our contemporary sportsmen and women take home, it is imperative that schools promote co-curricular activities as much as they promote academics.