“I am confident that I am exactly where God wants me to be, at the Ministry of Education and Sports. I also know with no doubt in my mind that God put me at the ministry of Education and Sports and he is using me to rebuild the education of this country, COVID-19 notwithstanding,” said Ms. Kataha in a press release on August 30th
That statement is bemusing for many reasons but it is quite telling about her persona. Ms. Kataha has oftentimes been shrouded in controversy. She always comes off as being out of touch with reality. Back in the day, shortly after her appointment as education minister, in response to the plight of hungry pupils in government schools, she obnoxiously suggested that the parents need to “pack food” for their children so as to curb the issue. This obviously didn’t sit well with many Ugandans referring to her as “Uganda’s Marie Antoinette”.
In February this year, she said that the way to improve our education system was by painting both primary and secondary schools, including universities so as to make them clean and attractive for learners. I mean, to her that is the most pressing concern to address in the education sector which is grappling with high drop-out rates, low completion, low performance, and transition rates. The education outcomes are so appalling in all regions across the country.
Joseph Kabuleta sorrowfully reminisces; “Uganda’s education system was once the envy of the region. During the 70s, 80s, and early 90s, at the beginning of term, dozens of buses brought thousands of students from Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda, DRC, and even further, into our secondary schools and universities and our fragile economy benefited from the billions of foreign monies. Then the first couple happened!” This followed a report by NBS Television about Ugandan parents turning to Kenya for the quality education of their children.
The COVID-19 pandemic has revealed a lot about the rot in our education stewardship. The education minister and wife to “Sabalwanyi” recommended online education for learners in the COVID-19 era, notwithstanding Uganda being a country where internet usage doesn’t reach even 30% of the populace. This means that lessons conducted via online platforms are just but a drop in the ocean. Not even the old media is able to serve all learners’ needs.
The incompetence of the education sector leadership leaves a lot to be desired especially regarding the continued mystery as to when the schools will be reopened. Parents do not know how or when to plan for their school-going children who have consistently been redundant for the past two years. Schools in all our neighbouring countries continue with studies despite the pandemic. Should we continue waiting for our “honourable minister” to receive spiritual guidance from her “god” before we can find a lasting solution?
Janet’s remarks about her divine entitlement to run the education arena; the most important ministry as far as modeling the future generation is concerned, is quite telling. She believes her approach is beyond reproach and her authority unquestionable since it is divinely awarded.
There’s no question about who her “god” is. Like she says, he wouldn’t have appointed her if he found her lacking. But the plight of Ugandan parents remains unanswered more than half a decade after her appointment to the ministry. There’s a need for results, not divine proclamations!