OpED

Education analyst Jonathan Kivumbi slams senior one online admissions, seeks First Lady’s intervention in 35 unanswered questions

Online Examination

Education Minister Janet Museveni (PHOTO /Courtesy)

Good morning Maama. Hopefully, all is well with you, despite the challenges, at hand, particularly those brought about by COVID-19

Without doubt, as the minister in-charge, and above all, as the mother of this nation, I strongly believe you must be so disturbed by what is happening with our education, as a country, especially, since we were attacked by this deadly monster, COVID-19.

However, going by your message, which rotated around hope, passed on to the nation, on July 16, 2021, while releasing the 2020 Primary Leaving Examination results, I have no doubt, we shall conquer the enemy both with devine intervention and sooner than later.

You also advised the young people out there, those who were watching and not, to stay focused and remain hopeful in all that they were doing, and in what they intended to do, no matter how hard conditions become. Indeed a lot was mentioned about hope and perseverance.

You said, and I quote: “To our young people, out there, what you are watching today is evidence of perseverance, and perseverance only comes when one has hope, and hope depends on the anticipated goals that one wants to reach”.

“‘Make a stand, and choose not to give up, on your goals, because when we lose hope, not only do we despair, but we also fail to prepare for life when things, are normal”, you further echoed.

Honestly speaking, Maama, when I heard these words, more so, coming from a mother, as a person who, had also, almost become hopeless, I got so energized, since I could now be in position to see light at the end of the tunnel.

Thank you, Maama, for such a brilliant, thrilling, and, arguably, well-thought of message. I am convinced beyond doubt, this message didn’t only reach the intended target audience, but it also created that desired impact on this group, in all aspects.

And after addressing the youngsters, call them ‘guys’, as they have chosen to describe themselves, you now turned your guns to their parents and, of course, the public, in general. While delivering your speech, you also urged us, as parents to demonstrate unconditional love to our children, since they (the children), cannot get that love, from anyone else, apart from their parents.

You further advised parents to ensure that they pass on, nothing, and nothing else, but only words of wisdom and hope to their children wherever they get the opportunity of talking to them.

This implies, even your message to the parents, rotated around hope. You said, and I will quote, ‘Children need to hear words of hope from their parents and guardians’. ‘They also need to be warned against social media and bad company’, you emphasized.

Furthermore, you still urged us, as parents, to ensure that our homes act as safe havens for our children, because, once children experience safety in the home, they grow, in their hope. Indeed, these were words of wisdom-the reason they need to be listened to by each and every, responsible parent.

However, Maama, based on your message, as put across to the nation, on July 16, as already mentioned, compared with what is going on now, in the field of education, in your opinion, do you really feel, it still holds, more so, before those children and of course, with their parents and guardians who have been marginalized to the bliss,  particularly from the time, COVID-19 hit us, as a country?

As a routine, whenever results are released, the selection exercise of learners to the next academic level, follows. However, this time round, this has not been done, nor the programme has been released yet, nor has the programme been released, yet, of course, because of the obvious reason, that we all know.

In fact, speaking at the same function, you made it clear to the listener that the programme for the selection of senior one (S.1) students, was to be communicated, to all stakeholders, in due course.

Actually, You also made it clear to everyone, that, as a ministry, you weren’t, yet sure, as of when, and how, schools and education institutions, in general, were supposed to re-open for normal business.

However, the listener remained hopeful, since you made it clear to him/her that, as a ministry, you had already embarked on the process—holding meetings amongst yourselves, while at the same time, engaging other stakeholders, including the President, who is meant to open up these schools, of course.

However, even though we are all aware that no selection exercise of S.1 students has been done yet, schools, countrywide, have already stormed the market, even more aggressively than ever, and embarked on the process of admitting these students, irrespective of the flaws evident in the whole arrangement.

Initially, I heard about this, as a rumour, and, without doubt, I treated it as such. But, as usual, because many people, those within, and outside country, often want to hear my side of the story, especially when it comes to issues concerning our education, many continued engaging me over the same matter.

All the same, I still declined to attend to them, because, having watched the July 16, event, broadcast live from State House, Entebbe, from the start to the end, and more so, having listened to your remarks, regarding the re-opening of schools, in general, and holding of selections for S.1 students, in particular, I was very sure, there wasn’t any school, involved in the admission of S.1 students, since the selection exercise had already stayed put.

Not even looking at letters-reading S.1 admission, splashed all-over the different social medium platforms, notably WhatsApp, made me think otherwise, since I was already convinced, the admission of students to S.1, or even S.5 can only happen after the selection exercise.

However, all doubt was removed when I saw and, of course, heard your deputy —the State Minister for Higher Education Dr. John Chrysostom Muyingo, say on TV that, as a ministry, you had actually flagged off this exercise.

Truth is, I did not even wait for him to complete his message, because if I did, I would have appeared like a person who has seen/met a 30 year-old man, defiling, call it having sex, precisely (with) a 7, 8, or even 16 year-old girl, and waiting for him to complete the exercise.

Interestingly, the minister, said schools were at liberty to admit students to S.1, but they are not, supposed to conduct online classes, with these students.

Maama, I strongly believe, you were not part of the meeting that came up with this very unfortunate decision.

However, in case you were (something that, I am still in doubt of), allow me kindly request you, come out, and clear the air, so as to restore hope, amongst those people, including myself, whose hope has been lost, again.

With all due respect, Maama, whatever decision was taken by the ministry in the name of allowing schools to admit students to S.1, was and, still is, a decision taken in the WRONG direction.

Believe it, or not; take it, or leave it, Maama, whoever advised you, as the minister, or as a ministry (I am stating it, this way, because, I still have doubt, as to whether, you were part of the decision-making team, that came up, with this very unfortunate decision, as earlier stated), ILL-ADVISED you, and once identified, this person needs to be condemned in the strongest terms possible.

Actually, this person is, without doubt, more DANGEROUS to this country than even coronavirus (COVID-19) —the reason he/she needs to be avoided by anyone passionate about education, the young generation, and above all, the future of Uganda.

There is no doubt, Maama, like I have always said, throughout all my correspondences addressed to you, and His Excellency the President, the jigger eating up Uganda’s education is deeply rooted, in what Organizational Management scholars, world-over, have described as CONFLICT OF INTEREST, and before this jigger, is plucked out of Embassy House, the problems of Uganda’s education, and, of course, Uganda’s economy, in general, will be here, to stay.

People at Embassy House, and, of course, those serving the ministry from elsewhere, are no longer mindful of the future of the young generation; their sole concern is all about making money.

Maama, with ministers, commissioners, district education officers-DEOs, district inspectors of schools (DISs), and headteachers of public schools, all joining the marketplace, as school proprietors, and embarking on an aggressive campaign of competing with their chief employer, that is, government, where should the aggrieved parent, guardian, school-going child/adult, name it, seek refugee?

Precisely, among the persons listed here, who exactly should the population now turn to  run to when it comes to issues related to education?

Maama, believe it, or not, majority of the people with whom you are working with, in the ministry, are not after serving Ugandans; these people, are simply thinking of how to grow their business empires, such that, their children, grandchildren, and great, great, great grandchildren, are in position to eat up this world, today and tomorrow, while the average Ugandan child continues to languish in poverty.

Maama, these people want our children to serve theirs, of course, not as masters, but, as servants, in future. Maama, there is absolutely no way, we can carry out the admission of students in S.1, prior to the selection exercise.

Maama, allow me address the following questions to the architect of this very controversial arrangement, of course, on behalf of the people, I am speaking for (call them the voiceless, who of course are the majority):

(1). What compelled the ministry, go against your words, concerning the re-opening of schools, and more so, the conducting of the selection exercise?

Precisely, what forced, as a ministry, make a U-turn, about the S.1 selection exercise?

(2) Is the selection of students to their next academic level, a MUST happen activity, or it can be treated as an option, specifically during times of a crisis, like the one at hand?

(3) Did the person who advised you, leave out the selection exercise, endeavour to dig the archives, to find out, exactly what the designers of this very important activity, had in mind, ahead of throwing it in the dustbin, surely?

Precisely, did she/he labour to find out the reasons why, time immemorial, we have had a selection exercise for both senior one and senior five conducted, before these students can proceed to their respective schools, or next academic level?

(4) So, having rendered the selection exercise worthless, what criteria, now, are all these schools splashing their admission letters/application forms, following to admit students to their schools?

(5) And now that admission of students is being done online, what must a child whose parents cannot access this facility do, so as not to be left out if this whole arrangement, as well?

Certainly, I know some people are going to say, we are in a world of technological change, but thank God, even when you were releasing these results two weeks, ago, you also acknowledged the fact that majority of our people do not have access to the Internet, and you, in fact, made it categorically clear that government does not have the capacity to provide everyone with Internet and electronic gadgets-the reason, even while, some children were studying with the aid of Zoom, many others had to rely on the learning materials, distributed to their respective localities.

Without doubt, this is evidence enough, for anyone fronting this very controversial arrangement, of S.1, to understand that, hundreds of thousands of beneficiaries are going to miss out on the exercise.

In fact, like I have said earlier, whoever designed this very controversial arrangement, is simply looking at money, and nothing else.

Whether a child who fits to join a school of their first choice,  joins or not, it is none of the former’s business, provided someone will show up with money, to buy off this boy’s/girl’s vacancy, who has not yet, that the admission exercise for S.1 students is already on.

Maama, I can guarantee, with certainty, many children in the rural districts, or areas that qualify to study from any school of their choice, of course, based on performance, are going to have their vacancies SOLD off (and please kindly mark the word ‘sold’) to those in the urban areas, regardless.

Maama, without doubt, this whole arrangement, is a design of a TYPICAL CAPITALIST, desguisely referring to him/herself, as an educationist, as well.

This person, without doubt, joined the ministry, to do nothing, and nothing, at all for the average citizen, but, as already discussed, to grow his/her business empire, and, of course, also serve the interests of his/her accomplices (fellow capitalists)-the reason, he/she comes up with policies, that favour his/her interests, at the expense of the taxpayer who has been charged with the responsibility of sustaining him/her

People are seated at Embassy House, not to serve the taxpayer, but to simply ‘cut deals’, as the saying goes.

Maama, I have personally been to Embassy House, on many counts, and, take my word, year-in-year-out, whenever results are released, you will see many people in the corridors of different floors, looking out for the different capitalists there, who can either admit their children to their schools, or assist them find them vacancies, elsewhere, of course, in particular schools.

People have turned public offices into personal offices, and, most worrying, is that, as all this is happening, those concerned, are just looking on, and simply clapping them, instead. Maama, thank God, this time round, I had you swear-in, as minister, and, if I can still remember, very well, of course, in the oath you took, you swore to give the President, including his successors, free advice and counsel; for this reason, therefore, allow me take this opportunity, of course, on behalf of that boy/girl in Ntoroko, Bundibugyo, or Buvuma districts, whose hope of having a better tomorrow, has been shuttered by the deadly monster called CONFLICT OF INTEREST, that has invaded our education, to please do the needful, because, I can assure, this (conflict of interest) is the ELEPHANT in the room, and the person with the sharpest spear, that can spear this elephant, to death, of course, is none other than the President. Before this ELEPHANT is evicted from the room, I can assure you, Maama, no amount of government intervention is going to enable us, as a country, deal with the countless problems evident in our education.

In fact, before I can proceed with my submission, Maama, permit me throw in more questions, of course, to the mover of this very controversial arrangement, of admitting students, exclusive of conducting their selection.

ministry is now ready to reopen the schools

Education Minister for Higher Education CJ Muyingo

(6) Aware of the fact that the current ‘S.1’ students have barely studied anything, since they joined secondary school education, last year, what arrangements does this person have in mind, to ensure that these youngsters get what they deserve, and that their parents, guardians, and sponsors, also get value for their money?

Maama, are you aware, the 2020 S.1 class has barely studied anything, since they joined school, last year? And is the person that came up with this very controversial arrangement of admitting students exclusive of conducting selection, aware that these students are supposed to attend to the new curriculum, which curriculum still has a couple of gaps to fix?

Does this person know that even teachers meant to take on students in this new curriculum, are yet to undergo, meaningful training? Is he/she aware that, we even do not have authentic literature, call them, teaching aids, or text books, meant to aid the teaching-learning process, on market, yet?

(7) For goodness sake, why don’t we first plan for what we have already, before jumping onto something else, altogether? Just asking, Maama! Thankfully, the students we are rushing to admit, have completed their primary school, level of education, and like you said, while releasing their results, this is an achievement, that nobody, unless otherwise, can take away from them.

But, while we are celebrating the achievement of these ones, we need to be reminded that there are those that have not achieved anything, yet (the 2020 S.1 students); so, before filling up our plates with food, which, if we are not very careful, might be difficult for us, to eat, and finish, why don’t we, get back to the drawing board, and plan first, how we can get the current S.1 students, out of our way, of course, as we also think more, about those, yet to join?

(8) Maama, also, allow me pause this question to the architect of this whole confusing arrangement, what exactly is the underlying motive of government/the ministry, behind education?

Precisely, are we looking at education, in terms of creating a work-force, that we are going to rely on in propelling this country to the level each one of us desires to see, before finally going to our final resting places, or our intention is to simply see people go through the system, of course, after completing, a given academic level?

(9) As the minister in-charge, are you convinced, beyond doubt, that the current happenings (which, of course, are not new to the industry), in the sector, are going to enable Uganda, sail through, smoothly, to her Vision 2040, smoothly?

Precisely, with universities passing out students who have not been examined, as required; the Law Development Centre (LDC) raping the law, they themselves, are meant to protect, and moreover, jealously, even more than Parliament, passing out students, and releasing their results, at a later date; school-going children studying, while others (who are the majority, moreover), watching the happenings, from afar, and, of course, the latest ‘innovaton’ of admitting S.1 students, online, worst of all, without following, the rightful procedures, do you see us as, a country, jumping onto the wagon of middle-income, in the next 1, 2, or even 5 years, surely?

(10) Is the person who designed this programme, staying here, with us, surely? Precisely, was this programme designed by someone situated in Uganda, or by an expatriate/Ugandan, abroad?

And I want to strongly believe, this person is a Ugandan, residing here. So, having arrived at this conclusion, allow me pose the following questions, this person:

(11) Maama, is this person, who designed this very controversial programme wof admitting students without conducting the selection exercise aware that we are even still in lockdown, as a county? Is he/she actually aware that, quite a number of people are not working, and that many have been struggling to even find what to put on the plate, since March 20, 2020, when the country went into partial lockdown, and, of course, total lockdown, 11 days, later?

(12) Surely, with arcades, countrywide closed; taxis and buses, countrywide parked; education institutions, closed; salons and bars, closed; discotheques, cinema halls, theatres, and all-sorts of recreation centres closed, how does this person expect children whose parents belong to any of the aforementioned businesses, to react whenever they hear their counterparts, whose parents have not experienced even the slightest adverse effect of CoViD-19, specifically, when it comes to cash flow?

(13) For the all the years this person has lived in Uganda, when has he/she ever seen Kikuubo, empty, of both people both people and, in fact, any open shop, surely?

So, now that the persons working in Kikuubo, but, of course, with children supposedly to join S.1, ‘this year’ are home seated, according to the designer of this very unrealistic arrangement, does it, therefore, imply that their children have to wait till the next opportunity presents itself?

(14) Maama, I have done an empirical study around food markets-using Kalerwe, Matugga, Kawempe, Wandegeya, and Bwayiise markets, as the case studies, and I can assure you, there isn’t any meaningful business going on, in these markets, as government might assume.

Vendors that used to make sales in hundreds of thousands, today, are struggling to even raise shs. 10,000/-, a day. Just spare some time, Maama, and visit your parents, now that the markets, are not congested, as always, in any market of your choice, and you will see people throwing rotten foodstuffs, while many others, will be seated at their stalls, gazing at nothing, or simply sleeping.

Obviously, with the biggest percentage of businesses closed, we do not expect business to go, as expected, in food markets. Of course, needless to emphasize the fact that, market vendors, were directed to sleep at their workplaces, as they still wait for the President’s pronouncement, on lockdown.

Therefore, according to the person that came up with this very controversial arrangement, does it, imply that the children of market vendors, meant to join S.1, have to also wait, until the next opportunity presents itself, or …?

And by the way, even if it means selling off their property, or going in for borrowing, so as to catch up with the ongoing wave of S.1 admission, of course, just like their counterparts, in the civil service and those in the corporate, how will they do this, yet, poor them, are sleeping at their workplaces?

(15) Why have Ugandans become so selfish, surely? So, does this mean that we are leaving education only for the children of the civil servants and those, whose parents and guardians, belong to the corporate world?

(16) Maama, as the minister in-charge, and still, as the mother of this nation, are you comfortable with schools in Kampala, Wakiso, Mukono, and all those urban areas, carrying on with their education, specifically the ongoing online admission of students to S.1, while schools in the rural districts of Nakaseke, Kwen, Bukwo, Namissidwa, Ntoroko, Bugweri, name it, are simply watching the proceedings, surely?

UNEB chairperson, Prof Mary Okwakol (PHOTO /Courtesy)

(17) While flagging off the e-learning programme in the higher institutions of learning, the National Council for Higher Education (NCHE) was NEVER mindful about the students hailing from humble backgrounds-the reason, why even after these institutions, including universities, of course, marginalizing them, NCHE, has decided to mute, and simply watch the happenings from the pavilion, moreover.

And as if, segregation of learners at higher level is not enough, even the ministry, that we would all run to, for rescue, has put the final nail in the coffin, after flagging off the admission of S.1 students online.

Maama, does this, therefore, imply that the advent of technology in the education sector, has taken course, purposely to eliminate the poor, and, their children, of course, with the intention of creating cheap labour-force for the propertied class?

(18) Why should a student be denied access to education, simply because their parent cannot afford to avail them with a computer, I-pad, or smartphone, surely? And why should a student, miss out on the school of their first choice, simply because admission to secondary school is now happening online, moreover, without following the rightful procedures, as it has always been the case, simply because, they cannot follow-up, on the proceedings, due to reasons beyond their control?

(19) Maama, are you aware that since the first lockdown was announced, pre-primary schools, including the lower section of primary schools (P.1-P.3) have never been re-opened, even for, just an hour?

So, does the person fronting this very controversial arrangement of admitting students exclusive of conducting the selection exercise, moreover, online, want to tell us that education for S.1 students, is more important than that of pre-primary and lower primary, surely?

And if so, what criteria did this person follow to arrive at their conclusion, surely? For heaven’s sake, since when did a particular academic level, become more important than the other, specifically when it comes to learners being in school?

(20) Maama, if pre-primary schools, together with the lower section of the primary schools, can stay put, for 16 months, now, why can’t this happen with secondary schools?

And if S.1 and, of course, S.5 students can stay in class for two years, without, having any meaningful academic programme, what is so special with the ‘current’ S.1? Precisely, what is the hidden agenda behind rushing the admission exercise of the S.1 students?

(21) And now that, the admission exercise of S.1 students is on, when should we expect that of P.1 to start, aware of the fact that pre-primary schools have been closed, for 16 months, now?

Don’t you think, Maama, by flagging off the S.1, very controversial admission exercise, you are indirectly telling primary schools, to also open up, admissions for P.1?

Are you aware, if this happens, there is to be a lot of chaos and confusion, not only, within the education sector, but also, in the country, at large?

(22) So, now that admission of students to S.1, is on, when should we expect them to report for school? Precisely, when is term 1 for S.1 starting?

And if, we do not actually know when this youngsters are supposed to resume their studies, why are we raising their anxiety, surely? And why are we pressing, the already pressed, tensed, and stressed parent, surely?

Maama, I pray you present this question, to the architect of this highly unrealistic arrangement. How realistic is it to embark on the rigorous exercise of distributing wedding invitation cards, when you even do not know, when the wedding is to take place?

I have seen all letters indicating that, regarding the reporting date, parents/students should wait for the President’s pronouncement on the re-opening of schools; so, aware of the fact, even the people splashing out these letters do not know yet, when studies are to resume, what are they admitting?

(23) But surely, do we have any educationists in this country? Are there any people who have studied education management, more so, at a doctorate level?

So, is this what is covered, of late, in education management? For heaven’s sake, must one be at the stage of defending their PhD thesis report in education management, to know that the ongoing online admission exercise of S.1 students is NULL AND VOID, since, besides being highly discriminative, the whole process is, in total contradiction of the very policies, that we ourselves passed, and approved?

(24) Where are the scholars, more so, doctors (PhD) and professors, surely? At a time, when everybody, including those who have retired from active service, with the title teacher, more so, our seniors (PhD holders and professors) in the field, would be scratching heads, holding endless (Zoom) meetings, at whichever level, to see how we get out of this crisis, people are thinking of themselves, absolutely.

This is embarrassing! Actually, this is a BIG SHAME to each of us, in the education fraternity. Indeed, like one of my colleagues whispered to me, CoViD-19 has stripped the education sector, naked.

Schools are extorting from parents, openly, and nobody is coming to the rescue of this innocent parent. What a pity, this is!

(25) Speaking at the release of the 2020 PLE results, UNEB’s executive director, Dan Odong, clearly emphasized to schools that the Board will be giving out pass slips and the rest of the hard copies (documents) that come along with results,  at a later date, implying that the students being admitted, do not have pass slips, yet.

Therefore, based on this undisputable fact, which documents are schools using to admit students? I thought the idea behind UNEB releasing pass slips on the very day examination results are released, was to eliminate all sorts of forgery that characterized recommendation letters, issued by schools; so, have we now forgotten this?

Uneb secretary Dan Nkorach Odongo (PHOTO /Courtesy)

Are now moving back to where we came from? No wonder, UNEB is of late registering candidates for both UCE (S.4) and UACE (S.6) exams, even when they do not have their pass slips, on them.

Pass slips have been replaced with marks on the phone. Hmmmmmm! Surely, if schools are admitting without pass slips; UNEB is registering students in the absence of their pass slips, why would one blame LDC for passing out students without results?

(26) So, according to the person misleading ministry, by admitting a student using WhatsApp, are we really propelling Uganda towards her Vision 2040, or? But, who is this person confusing the entire ministry, surely? And surely, what makes him/her untouchable? By what magnitude must he/she destroy education, so as to have him/her thrown out of Embassy House?

(27) When schools were re-opened, following the phased re-opening exercise, in March, this year, the Health Ministry, of course, in conjunction with the Education Ministry, came up with standard operating procedures (SOPs) for schools to follow.

However, these procedures were abused by almost each and every school, to the dot, and the offenders, to-date have neither been reprimanded, or even cautioned.

Our children contracted the deadly virus (COVID-19), and the best schools could do, was to cut off communication between the children and their parents, alongside hiding the patients in their sick-bays, that specialize in only giving out pain killers.

Of course, needless to emphasize the fact, the biggest percentage of our schools, including boarding schools, are operating without these all-important health facilities. One wonders how a boarding school can operate, convincingly, in the absence of a health facility.

Even though, the school buses, and, of course, all  the other means of transport, that most of these schools are so proud of, have been bought by parents fully, when the President announced an abrupt lockdown, only a handful of them transported their students to easy-to-reach destinations, to the biggest percentage, it was all about ‘to whom it may concern’.

As a result, hundreds of thousands of students, got caught up, in the different taxi and bus parks, with Kampala taking the lead.

A big applause to the Police chief-Martins Okoth Ochola and Colonel Edith Nakalema, who later intervened, to have the situation rescued. Unfortunately, by the time this happened, many of our children had already contracted the virus, and obviously, in the course of their movement back home, they ended infecting their parents, and people, as well.

Arguably, this has not only contributed to the rising number of COVID-19 patients, but also the death toll. So, according to the person that designed this programme, does this mean that schools have been allowed to admit students online, in appreciation of the good work done, in as far as containing the spread of CoViD-19 was/is concerned?

(28) Maama, are you aware that, despite the lockdown, a number of schools, including those of top-notch officials of the ministry, remained operational, and while, Police kept on harassing the common man, and having him prosecuted for not having a mask, or abusing curfew time, by a minute, or two, business in these schools, went on, uninterrupted?

You cannot imagine that, even when
the President, made it clear, that term 2, for the S.4 and S.6 students was supposed to end on December 18, 2020, some schools, mainly those, in Mukono district, had their term run up to January 9, 2021, uninterrupted.

Maama, without doubt, this is embarrassing! Actually, these schools did not even break-up for Christmas.

(29) And now that the low-cost (urban) schools are conducting admissions, online, what alternative measure, or measures, has the designer of this very controversial admission arrangement, come up with for the high-cost (rural) schools? Precisely, how should these schools, go about their admissions?

(30) So, according to the designer of this very controversial admission arrangement, does it, imply that we are first going to have students admitted, and, thereafter, come back, and have them selected?

(31) Besides, aware of the fact that, there learners whose results were withheld by UNEB, how are these people going to catch up with the ongoing exercise of admission, surely?

But surely, why has UNEB continued to marginalize, exploit, and oppress the poor? Precisely, have they insisted on releasing results, prior to completion of the entire assessment exercise?

Maama, I have already written to you about this issue, officially; I pray you study my submissions, and act accordingly, for I strongly believe, all children deserve equal treatment.

Maama, let us not address education matters in court, more so, those that can be handled, internally, as though we have no leadership.

It is unfortunate, almost everyone has their eyes on you, since the biggest percentage of the people you work with, have turned against the people they are meant to serve-the reason, I promised to keep you busy these five years, regardless.

Maama, let UNEB release all students’ results on the same day. Ideally, there should only be two categories of results, that is, those released, and the ones cancelled, if fairness, which is a principal requirement, for any authentically administered assessment, is to prevail.

Conducting admission of students either to S.1, or S.5, while some (no matter the number) are still waiting for UNEB to decide their fate, which decision, does not, come overnight, is not only unfair, but also WRONG.

For this reason, Maama, I pray you direct UNEB to stop releasing results, prior to completing, whatever they want to do, with the results, ahead of their release.

(32) And now that admission of S.1 students is happening without selection of these learners, what avenues are schools going to use to inform students who will not have been admitted, for whatever reasons, about their fate?

Precisely, aware of the fact that whenever selection of students is done, there are learners who are not taken on, by their first, second, or third choice schools; in this case, how are these students going to know the schools to which they have been sold?

(33) While making this announcement, as already discussed, the minister, of course, on behalf of the ministry, warned schools, against conducting online classes.

Perhaps, the one million dollar question, here, is: According to the person, who, without doubt, misled the ministry, why are these schools admitting students, then? Precisely, what are they going to do with them?

What is the essence of giving this student a vacancy, and they wait, for an unknown period, to even the movers to the whole programme, surely? For goodness sake, why the rush?  But surely, according to the mover of this highly controversial arrangement, how possible is it, for a parent to give away their daughter in marriage, and thereafter bar them from having sex, at the same time? Precisely, why are we admitting these students yet they’re not starting school, soon?

(34) Maama, are you aware that there are schools that have cheated parents, twice, if not thrice, or even more? Yes! You will realize that by the time the President sent all learners home, last year, the S.1 and S.5 students had just reported to school, and arguably, had hardly studied, anything. And this year, the S.1 students were yet to report to school, before the President second closure of schools.

Of course, needless to emphasize the fact that, even the S.5 students had barely covered sufficient work, by the time schools were closed off again.

Then we have schools that mercilessly sent their learners home, so that they could still do business with UNEB, in the name of giving away their premises as marking centres.

Then we have another category of the zoom schools. In all this, school proprietors, interestingly, including government schools, that are still funded by the taxpayer, claim that they need money to rescue their investments from the banks, that are often on their neck, over unpaid loans.

So, because a given bank is taking away one’s personal property, must it be the parent to suffer the consequences, surely? Why must parents be used by school proprietors to shoulder their (proprietors) personal problems?

Do these schools want to to tell us that parents in arcades, taxi business, and elsewhere, do not have loans with banks? Is it parents who tell these proprietors to go in for borrowing, surely?

Maama, it is really hurting for a parent to part of, with whatever amount of money, to have their children in school, and the next day you hear, the school has been closed due to UNEB marking, as if UNEB cannot do its business with other entities.

Maama, even though the second lockdown was announced when schools had just opened, parents who endeavoured to ask for their money, where not listened to, by these MERCILESS businesspersons, regardless.

You cannot imagine that even though no student has moved to the next class yet, schools have had to squeeze parents to the wall, for UNEB registration fees, which fee, has been grossly inflated, almost by every school, and money for the Public Universities Joint Admissions Board (PUJAB) forms.

Maama, despite the fact these forms go for as low as shs. 50,000/-, majority of the schools, despite the difficulties that, almost every parent, is going through, schools, have still MERCILESSLY inflated this figure, with many charging up to a total sum of shs. 150,000/-. So, Maama, based on this analogy, does it imply, that the person fronting this very controversial admission arrangement, still wants to parents to lose more money?

I am sure, you have heard the World Health Organization (WHO), talking of the third wave, which is likely to be similar to the first, and while all this is going on, we need to be aware that none of the students, has been vaccinated, yet.

Needless to emphasize the fact, that, just a handful of teachers has undergone the process. Maama, let me also remind you that the President, in his latest remarks, about the state of CoViD-19, in the country, made it very clear, that no teacher/lecturer, SHALL be allowed in school, prior to being vaccinated.

Maama, my question, here is, rather than, doing things in panic, and coming up, with highly hasty decisions, like the ongoing online admission exercise of S.1 students, why don’t we engage the relevant stakeholders-the President, Parliament, the Prime Minister, of course, with her team on the National Task Force, and the Health Ministry, to ensure that they bring in the required vaccines, such that all education stakeholders, of course, starting with teachers, support staff, parents, and learners, get their first dose, of the vaccine, prior to re-opening of schools, and the second dose, on return for holiday, since it is given out, after two months?

Maama, are we going to keep, opening, and closing schools, while one side is losing (the parent) and the other is gaining (the school)? Believe it, or not; take it, or leave it, Maama, any decision taken in the name of re-opening education institutions, ahead of vaccinating the aforementioned categories of people, of course, in their rightful numbers, will be a decision taken in the WRONG direction, unless, the person fronting the admission exercise of S.1 students wants to tell me that, we are done with COVID-19.

Maama, apparently, what is needed, in the sector is not of admission of students, at whichever level. It is not graduation of students, at whichever level. It is not recruitment of teachers, at whichever level. What we need, and VERY URGENTLY is a worked out, of how the persons listed herein, are going to be vaccinated.

Maama, this should be written, and in bold, on the face of each , and every person, within the ministry, mindful of the county’s education. Yes! Of course, other ministerial programmes should go on, but, none, should supercede VACCINATION-for without, it is the only constant now, if we are to be seen to start thinking of any business, in line with re-opening of schools, and education institutions, in general.

Anything outside this, Maama, is considered misplaced priority.

(35) And lastly, of course, but not the least, now that the admission exercise of S.1 students is happening in the absence of selections, should we then, assume, this is what is going to happen with the S.5 students, and those that will be joining higher institutions of learning, including university?

Precisely, has the ministry, now phased out, this all-important, arrangement of selection of students, to the next academic level, at all levels?

Or, does it mean, that students shall now, first be admitted, and selected, later? Maama, unless, answers, to all the aforementioned questions and concerns, raised, therein, are found, one cannot be crucified when they conclude that whoever advised you, as the minister, or the ministry, to flag off the admission of students to S.1, for whatever reasons, ILL-ADVISED you-the reason, as earlier stated, this person should be condemned in the STRONGEST terms possible.

Arguably, this person is not for, Uganda; he/she is serving someone else’s interests, but not the interests of the person (taxpayer) sustaining his/her stay in office. Maama, this person’s major is to destroy, of course, and the President, in the face of the taxpayer.

No wonder, even the eminent problems, of our education, that have been here, time immemorial, are all blamed, on one person, who has been to this ministry, for only five years, and that is none, other than, Janet Kataaha Museveni.

Maama, I am on the ground, and take my word, nobody is pointing fingers at any of your deputies, commissioners, or any other official, within the ministry; whatever problem is with education, is all placed you-the reason, you should act, accordingly, and now-lest these people (your subordinates) eat you alive, like I have said before.

Truth be told, Maama, the ELEPHANT in the house, is more than ready, to do anything, provided he/she achieves his/her intended goal. Maama, this ELEPHANT has invaded all agencies of the ministry-the reason, your subordinates in all these agencies, consider themselves UNTOUCHABLES.

For whatever reasons, Maama, the decision taken to allow schools start admitting students, exclusive of following the rightful procedures, was/is PURELY a CAPITALISTIC, DECISION, whose idea was crafted by a CAPITALIST; packaged, by a CAPITALIST, fronted by a CAPITALIST.

All signs indicate, Maama, that, as a country/ministry, we are not ready to accommodate learners, at the next level of education, whatsoever. For this, reason, therefore, let examination results be released, but let learners, stay put, until such a time, when we feel, we are ready to accommodate them.

Take it, or leave it, Maama, the ministry, is not ready, yet for S.1 and S.5, including First year students, meant to join tertiary institutions, and university. Truth be told, Maama, the earliest, we can accommodate S.1 and S.5 students is February 2022. Certainly, whatever arrangement is out of this date is going to hit a snag; this, I can guarantee with certainty, basing on what is happening within the country, and ministry, in particular.

Let us focus at VACCINATION, as already stated, of the persons mentioned above, such that, even those whose businesses are still under key and lock, are allowed the opportunity to resume work, and look for money for their children’s school fees. Remember, article 30 of the Constitution, states that ‘Everyone has a right to education’.

This way, hope, shall have been restored, Maama. Maama, please kindly, do not give room to the CAPITALIST to take over your rightful, position. Yes! You can lead from the back, but keep an eye, on this ELEPHANT in the room, for, without doubt, as earlier discussed, the public’s confidence lies in you.

To my fellow colleagues in the profession,  the teachers, of which Headteachers are part, I’m not fighting you, but aware of the fact that you’re also parents and/Guardian, I’m actually fighting for you.

I beg to submit!

For God and My Country!

Jonathan Kivumbi Educationist-communication and language skills analyst

0770880185 (WhatsApp 0702303190) [email protected]

 

 

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