As part of the national Uganda@50 campaign and celebration of the Golden Jubilee of Uganda’s independence, the Centre for Basic Research  has been holding  community  dialogues in selected districts to engage citizens on “Uganda our country.” 

This effort is  supported by the Open Society Initiative in East Africa (OSiEA). We went to Gulu, Kabale, Hoima, Luwero, Busia and Kampala. The dialogues centered on three main questions: where we have come from, where we are as a country, and the Uganda we want to see.

One of the key areas that came out strongly was education.  As a starting point, majority of people appreciated the increased education access (in quantitative terms), most especially for the girl child. More children are accessing basic education as well as higher education.

At independence, we had one public university, Makerere. Now we have five public universities and a host of private ones. Something to celebrate! However, the outcry was overwhelming.

The outcry is about the very sorry state of the education service itself. First is the politics of the Universal Primary Education (UPE). The question was: why do the elites who supposedly designed UPE as a good thing take their sons and daughters to private schools?

How possible is it that one designs a good thing and denies  his or her children the opportunity to enjoy it? UPE is seen as a political mockery, where the children of the poor are destined to defective learning and misery, in the name of ‘free education.’

As indicated in the UWEZO study, carried out by the Uganda NGO Forum as part of a regional study on the state of education in the East African Community, many children in lower primary struggle to read and do basic numeracy.

In fact, education in Uganda is at a lower standard than Kenya and Tanzania, and yet education used to be the area of Uganda’s competitive advantage in the region, and as seen from all the Tanzanians, Kenyans, Rwandan and Burundian students in private and public Ugandan schools, and has been a major source of income for the country.

Poor, ordinary Ugandans are crying out for their children to have a substantive right to education as opposed to a mockery. The meagre pay for teachers is common knowledge. Teachers have pleaded time and again for better renumeration,  but their pleas have not only fallen on deaf ears, they have also been met with  threats and ridicule.

The strike by UNATU in 2011, seeking 100% increased pay, would have meant only an additional $100, equivalent to the current salary of the lowest paid teachers.  Indeed, even though the Social Services Committee of Parliament identified ways to cover this cost in the 2011/12 budget, the government refused to accept to shift resources to meet the teachers’ demand.

Low pay aside, teachers wonder about the defective remuneration system.  For example, many teachers trained  ten years ago are yet to be put on the  government payroll; those who have upgraded their qualifications have remained on a low scale.

For example, a holder of a Masters degree still earns a salary similar to that of  a  diploma holder. Teachers see the ministry of Education and Sports as an epitome of corruption, inefficiency and ‘ad hoc-ism.’

One experienced teacher from Kabale summarized the ad hoc orientation of the ministry of Education as a gambling institution that downloads rushed defective decisions without adequate planning.

He cited cases such as the ad hoc change of the primary schools curriculum and imposition of science subjects as compulsory, which has hindered performance of students who are not science-oriented.

As we talk now Computer Studies is supposed to be compulsory. Does it need a rocket scientist to realize the simple fact that this requires schools to have access to electricity, the teachers are asking (and can somebody answer them please)!  Where do such decisions  come from?

What will happen in the majority rural schools? Is the ministry planning to invent a magic computer that uses firewood?  The strong feeling is that the main imperative behind the so called innovations by the ministry of Education is much less about improving the education system and more about enriching some individuals through printing new books and winning tenders.

Accordingly, a number of authors have printed books just to benefit from UPE funds. The name for all this is corruption and lack of nationhood or simply, lack of love for the country.

Poor governance is undermining education and undermining majority of poor Ugandan children from having the life opportunities that come from good quality education.

The voice from below is therefore saying: the Uganda we want to see is one with a quality, streamlined, sober education system where teachers are given due recognition; an education that empowers children with knowledge and skills.  

Prof Josephine Ahikire is the executive director, Centre for Basic Research


+1 #1 huh ! 2012-08-10 02:17
Lets celebrate when Museveni is out of office and Uganda is restored to it former glory.
+1 #2 nusnaki 2012-08-10 11:40
substandard education, just like all the other current dead public services, was well planned ..while Ugandans slept. Wake upeople!!!
+1 #3 Ocaya pOcure 2012-08-10 13:03
Fellow Ugandans, Uganda is a Glory of massive corruptions
First, I think and hope that this so – called director of Centre for Basic Research might not just be a centre for coverings of the massive corruptions by the NRA/M7 regime for the continuous 27 plus years and still counting.

Second, the whole Ugandan heard about many dubious NRA/M7 regime’s think tank which were quite interesting, but all what such bodies did were to enriched the NRA/M7’s doctrine of corruptions unabated.

Lastly, I think nothing good had ever come out of the NRA/M7’s houses of the so-called intellectuals since their intentions come in different shades and shapes. Everything they do always ended up as the blanket for covering their regional control the poor regions of Uganda en masse. Under sheer blanket of Glory of massive corruptions.

OCAYA pOcure
+1 #4 Akot 2012-08-10 20:08
NRM has lived up to its doctrine "looting" right from the bush till now! Question: Why were Ugandans blind fold them for so long before reacting?

Education isn't part of NRM culture; they grub, crush & call upon common Ugandans to praise them!
While elite educated, those with income can afford to live, the majority of Ugandans are in dire straits with little or no education & are not informed or educated in politics, which is normally the role of opposition!

Of course, there is no real opposition with broad national view & alternative programme for the country!
All dictators/despo ts are afraid of "educated population" for they could not be manipulated, shut down. Worse, uneducated Ugandans do not speak Enling & inter-tribal relationship, association, to share views is practically impossible for this bulk of the population! Museveni counts on this & is keeping tribes apart with poor education!
0 #5 Akot 2012-08-10 20:26
Bad governance that has lead to over population is another cause of hinderance of resources for education!

Developed nations encourage people to have more kids to qualify for state assistance & this has lead to over population with dwindlling resources to meet demand which wasn't a problem before! Ther infrastructures cannot bare the burden of this over population!

Ugandans must get together, learn from past mistakes & from the world how to get started, for they are going no where. The world is not waiting for them to come to reality & be part of this modern world!

Dev.nations have too many social problems to tackle, but if Ugandans come together now, they will get help - you have an advantage in not fighting Museveni with arms! The world would be ashamed if it didn't help you as 'one people, one nation demanding just to live decently on your land'!
+1 #6 Betty Long Cap 2012-08-10 20:37
Quoting Akot:
All dictators/despots are afraid of "educated population" for they could not be manipulated, shut down.

Religion and education being necessary for good government, schools and the means of education shall forever be encouraged. Northwest Ordinance, preamble. 1787

African dictators figured out what early American statesmen knew: democracy depends on education.
+1 #7 Betty Long Cap 2012-08-10 21:56
Quoting Akot:
Developed nations encourage people to have more kids to qualify for state assistance & this has lead to over population with dwindlling resources to meet demand which wasn't a problem before!

Population growth in most if not all western countries has dropped below 2.0. My childbearing years were in the late sixties early seventies. I met with much criticism for having five children.
+1 #8 Mbati David 2012-08-10 22:49
Am always irked by the abuse of statistics by politicians and some news papers. Statistics does not lie, but statisticians can lie using statistics.

Example, every time when NRM came to power we only had one university and now we have 5 public Universities,we had 2million in Pschs and now we have over 7 million; all this is true, but they fail to correlate it with the population of the country then and now. This makes the interpretation biased.

If there is only only one way of looking at it why are people complaining. The truth is government pays lip service to Education and health and actual service to it's intention to remain in power.

As a result everyone supposed to be serving in these sectors turn to doing their own things (in addition to having got their by influence peddling or nepotism)as long as they get come thing to eat out of it.

Who of good sense can take his child to a system to kill, except those for whom it was designed (the ignorant voter base for NRM).
+1 #9 Ocaya pOcure 2012-08-11 00:40
Prof Ahikire Josephine NRA/M7 regime has never been pro-Ugandans but corruptions,

First, YES, you have written this well thought document about education, but had the NRA/M7 regime ever implemented anything for the goodness of Ugandans right from their infamous privatisation projects and, or even including currency exchanges when they came to power?

Second, how long can NRA/M7 regime continue to dupe people meanwhile it drives themselves smelly rich in Uganda whereby we do not even have ASPIRIN tablets in our health centres? When one cannot even get the differences between tributary road networks in upcountry and the highway road networks in the cities!

Lastly, NRA/M7 regime had made the massive corruptions as the journey to create the infamous Middle Class in South western Uganda less the rest of Ugandans.

OCAYA pOcure
+1 #10 Akot 2012-08-11 19:16
Betty Long Cap, thanks, I agree with you but you see the problem in most of these dev.nations is mainly due to immigration, in first place - these people mostly have more than one wife over 10 kids!

France & UK are presently facing tough times with influx of poor people coming in from Afric, Asia, Middle East, N.Arfica, plus mouvement within poor EU to richer countries - these are very big familes with huge social demands!

To this is added the young population of dev. nations that only get real help if they have kids, especially fall outs from schools!

France & Uk are hard hit by this increasing population! France is even taxing minim savings one has starved to keep for worse days over many years! This is not passing well with holders of such savings! Schools, hospitals are saturated, there are waiting lists for nursery/child gard house!

All young school fall outs have at least 3 kids at 25 & are all pregnat again! Some have babies every year!
+1 #11 Akot 2012-08-12 16:56
In les than 10 years, French population increased to over 70m, UK over 60m!

UK has resorted to enticing nurses/Drs. from Commonwealth to their health services, this is robbing those nations their well educated health personnel, leave alone the cost they paid to train them!

French hospitals/clini cs are offering worse services ever, they are submerged with petients, esp. maternities!
While British PM blames health personnel for bad serveces - he knows very well they are over worked in maternities!

These two nations are hammering their rich for not paying enough tax, they have made the rich public enemies & render them responsible for povrety of their ever increasisng population out of political control!
We don't see rich raising funds for poor now, do we?
0 #12 Betty Long Cap 2012-08-12 18:18
"Stephen Kiprotich, of Uganda, raced his way to victory to win gold. It is the first medal the African nation has won in 40 years." The Times UK


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