There are so many reasons why people lose sleep at night. For Benjamin Rukwengye, the state of education in the country and the results it produces consume a number of hours of his night.
“What were you doing at 19?” Benjamin asks me as we sit down for a conversation on Boundless Minds, a social enterprise he founded three years ago. You know you have to rethink your approach when your interviewee is the one who begins with asking the questions. I decided to let him tell me as I listened.
“A poor education breeds a poor generation. And that is one thing that has totally affected our country over the past number of years.
Boundless wants to deliberately influence policy at the different levels of decision making. The easier way to achieve this is by making things happen from the grassroots. The target is a new generation that identifies the problems at hand and is eager to create a working solution to eliminate the problem. What we have today are people who identify the problem, know the solution but are too lazy to show up and cause the change. If change is to come, it cannot come from the blue, it has be intentional. There must be someone willing to take the lead and the responsibility which comes with it.
Boundless is on a mission to causing the idea of practical change where it becomes a new norm of how things should be done.
There was need to link education to the real life. Our current education system does not prepare one to ably fit into the working space. This is evidently seen through the first sessions dedicated to inducting the new staff in to the working space. We are living at a time when people are not necessarily doing what they studied at school rather what they is available and for a few, what they want.
We need to learn from what others are doing and know the different things they are doing and how they are doing them.
The Boundless fabric comes from a deeply thought out solution to the kind of complacency derived from living a satisfying life of mediocrity on which our community has survived for a very long time.
Somewhere, a 19 year old was on the plane globetrotting, living away from the comfort of their parents, working up their pay check and paying taxes. Chances are, you and I thought ourselves to be so young to be doing anything that was of value addition to the community at 19. Preferably you were in you senior six vacation or fresh man year at university and that was all you bothered about.
Most of us in Uganda become more valuable to the country at 25 when we have settled into a new job and began paying bills. The idea of taking part in the community’s concern does not register as an immediate crucial need. That is why even in affluent neighbourhoods in Kampala, you will find traits of what you could consider as reckless behaviour.
When we asked our first cohort of the Boundless Corps what their biggest challenge was in their community, most of them pointed out garbage. We have refused to inculcate the discipline of proper garbage disposal even in our neighbourhoods because we think there is someone out there responsible for that.
That is where Boundless comes in.
A conversation with a friend gave birth to this new idea upon learning that there was a lot of wasted time among the young adults (18-25). Upon finishing secondary school, one sits home till they join university. And even after university, one sits home until they have found a job to do. There is need to do capacity building among students while at university.”
In 2015, the idea of Boundless Minds began by targeting students in A-level. Benjamin designed a tool kit that he thought would be vital to the students in preparation of the life ahead. However, what he did not know is that that was not the kind of project that schools were interested in. Schools were mainly interested in projects that hep the students pass their exams with As. Not the Boundless things.
This presented a ready opportunity for Benjamin to target the students in their vacation as they were very idle and this would be a very interesting program.
“In 2017, the first cohort of the Boundless Corps enrolled and took up the challenge. With Boundless, there is no stopping once one starts. The program is designed to help the fellow grow through the system that by the time they are out of university, they are better people in the places where they are. In the program, one has a chance to find their personal interest. They have a chance to consider pursuing a job or beginning their own but whatever they do, they become masters at.
The Boundless program is divided into three; Boundless Corps is designed to help students in their senior six vacation, Boundless Professionals for the students at university and the University Chapters which is yet to kick start this year.
The intention of running all these programs is hep the student have practical learning. To know what is happening in the community, to be able to work and appreciate the idea of work but most importantly, to be involved. By the end of the program, the fellow is expected to have an appreciation and a balance between school, community and work. And they should find it exciting doing it.
When students go through the Boundless program, they have an advantage over their colleagues in terms of their accomplishments. The students run community projects where they identify a problem and find a solution to it. This is in line with acquiring work related skills. They also learn about leadership and governance, unpopular topics in this age bracket.”
Having started the Boundless Corps in 2017, and followed it with boundless professionals in 2018. This year, they will expand to open up the University Chapters. The passion with which Benjamin talks about Boundless, you cannot fail but notice that he is so excited with the work him and the team are doing.
Every day when he wakes up, Benjamin, like Peter Kagayi in his poem, Thought Structure, hopes that these Boundless fellows will be able to bring up a renewed state of affairs especially among their peers and those younger than them, thus;
That to think the way we think the audience must think that way
So that whatever we stand to project, or protect, to perceive and to protest
They must be the same things that society wants to project or protect, to perceive and to protest
Thus when we speak of things that annoy us and the State decides to silence us
Maybe then, and only then, our children will find us to be worthy of being their role models.
Boundless Corp is currently accepting applications for the 2019 cohort.