With two weeks of military training behind them, some of the 600 teachers and students interviewed today had interesting insights into what happened behind-the-scenes.
The ‘patriotism’ seminar at Ndejje Secondary School in Luweero, organised by the directorate of Patriotism in the president’s office, ended on Wednesday.
One trainee said participants were promised military uniform to command respect in their schools.
The training was largely unreported until Tuesday when former Vice President Gilbert Bukenya claimed that the teachers were being urged to join the NRM ahead of the 2016 elections.
Another group of teachers was undergoing the same training at Bweranyangi Girls Secondary School in Bushenyi. The Ndejje group was passed out on Wednesday by the state minister for Primary Education, Kamanda Bataringaya, who warned teachers that missed the trainings not to complain if “something bad” happened to them.
“There is no specialised training for one to become a head teacher; therefore, those that declined to come for this training should not bother us when they are sacked from their respective schools,” Bataringaya said on WBS TV.
News of the training comes a month before planned industrial action by teachers, under the Uganda National Teachers Union (UNATU), over government’s refusal to grant them a 20 per cent salary increment. Those who attended the training may have a hard time joining the strike.
“And if you are patriotic, will you go on strike? … It means that even in your heart, you are not willing to defend this country. Should we hear any word from you when you are one of our security officers, then we shall know that you are an enemy,” Luweero RDC Persis Namuganza told teachers, on Wednesday.
One head teacher said participants heard several statements that stunned them.
“It was clear that they were trying to indoctrinate us because they have a particular (political) ideology that they tried to impart on us. They told us that we had become change agents and they want to instill similar feelings within our students,” the head teacher said.
Afraid to lose their jobs, several teachers said they had no option but to do as directed.
“We survive on salaries paid by them, and they told us that they were going to monitor and ensure that what was taught to us is implemented in our schools,” one trainee said.
TV footage by WBS shows the teachers going through military drills with army instructors. About four hours every morning and evening were dedicated to military drills including skills on how to operate an Ak-47 rifle, according to our source.
On their pass-out, they sang and danced to NRA liberation songs. On their pass-out parade, they took the military oath of allegiance to the government.
“It is true [that] skills at arms is one of the components of the patriotism trainings because the Constitution requires all able-bodied Ugandans to be responsible and ready to defend the country at all times,” Education minister Jessica Alupo told The Observer in an earlier interview.
Besides the military training, the teachers were taken through the country’s political history, telling them that Uganda’s development was constrained by capitalist tendencies adopted in the early 1990s.
Some of the facilitators included: the head of the National Patriotism Secretariat, Lt Col Henry Matsiko, former Vice President Specioza Wandira Kazibwe and UPDF political commissar Col Felix Kulayigye, who all called for a shift from a capitalist economy to the Chinese model of communism.
Attacks on traditional leaders raised some resistance among the participants with some openly expressing their sentiments, prompting one of the facilitators to warn the pro-Buganda group.
“When we continued expressing our displeasure, the facilitator asked those of us who felt loyal to Buganda kingdom to come forward, he then told us that we are not any better than our colleagues who had remained behind,” said our source.
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