OpED

Let’s establish the actual meaning of science, prior to entrusting too much responsibility with the scientists

SUMMARY: This means, science can be convincingly described in relation to sports, a clear indication that the meaning of science to a sportsman, is totally different from that of a medical practitioner.

In the 1950s my dad, then a pupil in Nnamakwa Primary School, Mukono District, was taught that, “Science is the study of living and non-living things”. In the 60s, mummy, then a pupil in Kako Primary School, in Masaka District, was also taught the same thing. In the the recent past while still a pupil at Kyaggwe Road Primary School, Kampala, I also learnt the same.

And in 2020, my daughter, currently in P.4, moreover, in one of the top-notch schools around the city centre, is equally using the same, to describe science. Interestingly, meaningless as the definition is, nobody, including our University professors in their different areas of specialization, has ever bothered to challenge this description, that is worst of all, relating to something very ambiguous. This is too unfortunate!

Your Excellency, don’t you think your “scientists” are providing ill-advising you, with specific regard to the mitigation of the spreading of corona virus? Don’t you think for all this long we have lived with a wrong subject called “Science”, at the primary school level? I bet, not even a University Professor from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, or Harvard, can ably define science, for it (science) is not only an ambiguous concept, but it is also extremely meaningless, once used in isolation.

And even if, it was not, there is absolutely no way, all scholars in the field of science, could have zeroed-down to this outrageously wrong definition of: “Science is the study of living things and non-living things”. Your Excellency, the noun, “science” can only carry meaning when pegged to another noun, say, Biology, Physics, History, Geography, Chemistry, Politics, etc. This means, science can be described in relation to Biology (Biological science); it can also be described in relation to Chemistry, Physics, or Agriculture. We can also describe science in relation to Geography, Linguistics, Philosophy (Philosophical science), or techology. Science can equally be described in relation to Nutrition (Nutritional science), in relation to research (Scientific/Quantitative research methods), or society (Social sciences).

We can also define science in relation to Entrepreneurship, or Marketing. Your Excellency, this is the reason you will find post-graduate students at Makerere University Business School (MUBS) studying a Master of Science degree in Entrepreneurship and a Master of Science degree in Marketing.

Your Excellency, majority (if not all) of the renowned football coaches and other related sporting activities, have studied, Sports Science, in relation to their areas of specialization. This means, science can be convincingly described in relation to sports, a clear indication that the meaning of science to a sportsman, is totally different from that of a medical practitioner. Your Excellency, it is not possible for a student studying mechanical engineering at University to understand science in the same dimension of his/her counterpart studying civil engineering, despite the fact that the duo, are all students of engineering.

Even in the medical field, science cannot mean the same thing to a gynaecologist, a neurologist, or an paediatrician. Your Excellency, by and large, science is a very broad term, that nobody has ever, can ever, and will ever ably describe, unless it is narrowed down to its specifics, as previously discussed. Every field, in itself, including history, is a science. Your Excellency, you will notice that science is the mother of all discoveries and/or innovations, meaning that science and innovation, are inseparable. Like Martin Luther (Jr), once said, “Science investigates; religion interprets. Science gives Man knowledge, which is power.

Religion gives Man wisdom, which is control. Science deals with facts; religion deals with values. The two are not rivals”. Your Excellency, the two most ideal things to focus at from Luther’s words are “investigation” and “facts”.

You cannot separate these two from science, of any sort. So, against this background, Your Excellency, are you convinced with the way you are “scientists” are advising you? You will realize that I am putting the word, “scientists” in quotes, simply because I do not exactly know which group/groups of scientists, in particular, you are referring to.

Your Excellency, what facts did your advisory team, avail you with, before arriving at the conclusion that all women in the food markets should sleep at their places of work, while men in the same markets, together with men and women in the elite class, continued enjoying the luxury of their beds at home, after work?

Your Excellency, I have, personally failed to understand the science that encourages people (spouses) to sleep in the same bed, and even make love, and thereafter, maintain a physical distance of whether metres, as advised by the “scientists”. Your Excellency, what category of science did your “scientists” rely upon to convince you reduce the number of occupants in a private car to three, and now, four, regards of the size of the car? Your Excellency, do you find it appropriate for a Vitz that carries a maximum of five people and a Super Custom whose seater capacity is eleven passengers, to each carry only four people? Arguably, if this conclusion was arrived at after a consultative dialogue with the “scientists”, then, it is evident that, they (scientists) did not perform any investigation, and for this reason, their submissions on the same, were not based on facts. Your Excellency, after a family of 7, 8, 9, or 10, has had a meal on the same dining table, and they want to move out in the same car, “Why should their number now be reduced to four, at the time of travelling?”

ANALYSIS: What a dead academic year would have meant for students, institutions

Your Excellency, if two people can occupy the same seat in a private car, taxi, or bus, “Why can’t a motorcycle/boda-boda carry a passenger?” Your Excellency, you have directed boda-boda operators to strictly carry luggage, and not passengers, majorly because they penetrate deeply into our places of residence: Does this, of course, according to your “scientists”, therefore, mean that when they (boda-bodas) deeply penetrate into the communities with luggage, they cannot spread the virus? Your Excellency, the boda-boda cyclists had come up with an innovation-a fibre made material, to separate the cyclist from the passenger, which, I believe was/is unnecessary, but still your advisory team, did not see anything good with this move.

But, Your Excellency, if this virus, according to scientific findings, catches us mainly through our soft parts-ears, nose, and mouth, “With the mask and the helmet on, why shouldn’t this boda-boda cyclist be allowed to carry a passenger, who is, moreover, seated behind him, also with mask?” Your Excellency, with all due respect, if your advisory team convinced you that salons should remain closed, under the argument of attracting too much traffic therein, then, they fed you with false information. A salon is not a supermarket, a bank, or pharmacy, that allows people in, and out, all day long. Besides, I have seen many men and women, including your advisory team and ministers, as well, with their hair regularly trimmed and/or worked upon: “With salons closed, how do these people get access to salon services?” Don’t you think, a number of salon operators are frequenting our homes, something that could even be more dangerous, than, if you allowed salons to operate, of course, with well-laid standard operating procedures (SOPs) in an effort to mitigate against spreading of the virus?

Your Excellency, with all due respect, I totally agree with you on the issue of maintaining the curfew for security reasons, but on medical grounds, no! The medical argument provided to you by your team of experts is farfetched, and this can hardly proven by any research fellow, scientifically. Your Excellency, I request you engage a team of experts from Makerere University Institute of Social Research (MISR) to investigate the same (relationship between the curfew and the spread of the virus), and, thereafter, furnish you with a comprehensive scientific report, about their findings. I find the argument of people visiting one another, and turning their homes into bars, extremely wanting, for with public transport now open, and bars still closed, this is most likely to happen during the day, than in the night. Your Excellency, according to your advisory team about the maintained lockdown on arcades, “Does it imply that these shopping centres are only poorly ventilated for the interior shops, but well ventilated for the exterior shops?”

Assuming this is the case, don’t you think it is ideal for you, and, of course, the taxpayer to know, how the different authorities countrywide, notably Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA) approved plans of buildings with poor ventilation? Your Excellency, “Does this mean that the ventilation of these arcades is poorer than that of the different police stations, notably police cells, where hundreds and hundreds of offenders of the law, including those who defied your directives are packed from time-to-time?” Your Excellency, for the good of our children in school, let us avoid using the words “arcade” and “mall” to do mean a different thing. We are trying to create a difference between the two, yet it does not exist in reality. It is crystal clear that the term “arcade” is a precursor of the term “mall”, and for this reason, the two terms are used interchangeably. The only difference between the two, lies with the architectural design.

I furnished the Minister of Industry, Trade, and Co-operatives, Amelia Kyambadde, with a comprehensive publication about the same. I pray you equally find it, and acquaint yourself with the same. Your Excellency, apart from some of the Pentecostal churches and, perhaps Bukalango Prayer Centre, in Kampala and Wakiso (Kakiri), respectively, I highly doubt there was/is any other worship centre, countrywide, that used to accommodate/accommodates hundreds and hundreds of believers at the same time. Over 90% of these worship centres are manned by highly competent people, not only in Theology, but also in other disciplines, including crisis management. In fact, I find it very disturbing, Your Excellency, to allow all sorts of people, moreover, in the informal sector, to go carry on with their businesses, “normally”, while maintaining the lockdown on worship centres.

There is no doubt, Your Excellency, if your advisory team advised you that market vendors, boda-boda riders, or taxi operators can heed the SOPs put in place by the Ministry of Health (MoH), than the Anglican Church under the stewardship of Rt. Rev. Dr. Bishop Samuel Kazimba Mugalu, the Roman Catholic Church, the organized Pentecostal churches, the Orthodox Church, and the Muslim fraternity, among other religious denominations, then it is evident that, they provided you with false information. Honestly speaking, if St. Bbalikudembe (Owino) market can heed the SOPs, why not Namirembe Cathedral, Lubaga Cathedral, Kibuli Mosque, or the Bahai Temple, in Kikaaya? Your Excellency, are you convinced, beyond doubt, that worship centres accommodate people from all walks of life more than taxi parks, food markets, or even Kampala city itself, as convinced by your advisory team? Could we be having people who travel all the way from Mbarara, Rukungiri, or Masaka to attend mass at Namirembe, or Lubaga Cathedral, every Sunday? And even if we did (which is obviously, very unlikely), “What percentage of the congregation do these people constitute?” Your Excellency, I can guarantee with certainty, even without any scientific study performed that over 90% of the members of most of these worship centres (save for some Pentecostal churches), are from within the areas where their centres of worship are situated. I pray you consider opening up these places, because I am convinced beyond doubt, they cannot let you down, in as far as fighting against the spreading of the virus is concerned.

The rate at which society is morally decaying in this lockdown, is unbearable. Please kindly heed the public outcry, and consider lifting the lockdown on all worship centres, of course, with SOPs, in your next address to the public about the government’s progress on CoViD-19. Your Excellency, if we are going to assess the P.7, S.4, and S.6 students of the year 2020, basing on what is going on, on radio, television, or WhatsApp, then, I can confidently, say: It is very unfortunate! Your Excellency, I can guarantee with certainty, if radios meant to be issued to each homestead, is intended for education, then, this will be money wasted. I believe if this money is to be diverted to some other productive venture, say, buying the already starving teachers food, it would serve the taxpayer better, than spending it on radios, whose intended purpose of education can hardly be realized. Your Excellency, there is no way absolutely a student who has failed to understand what is being taught in class with the teacher before him, can again ably follow what is happening on TV, radio, or zoom. The phrase, “Keep quiet” is used by teachers right from Baby class to S.6, and beyond. I am wondering how a student who is always reminded to keep silent, and concentrate on his/her studies, moreover, by a teacher well-known to him/her, can do so on TV, or radio, before a stranger, that they can’t even see. Anybody who wants to confirm that the people moving to the different radio and television stations under the guise of teaching are actually talking to themselves to the largest extent, should begin by doing some kind of scientific research around his/her place of residence.

Just opposite my home is a building being erected, but all the casual labourers on the site, are secondary school students. Your Excellency, I am yet to establish which that specific type of science that is going to be relied upon by your advisory team while advising you on the next course of action about whether to avail each village with a TV set in a bid to foster the teaching-learning process, or not. Your Excellency, with all due respect, kindly let us not invest the already available meagre resources in things whose net pay back, is not only clearly defined, but also highly negligible. Apart from increasing immorality (sexual relations, amongst these youngsters), and, definitely, increasing the danger of spreading not only corona virus, but also sexually transmitted diseases, notably HIV/AIDS, there is nothing tangible, absolutely that is going to come out of these gatherings around TV, under the disguise of studying. According to Albert Einstein, education is not the learning of facts, but rather the training of the mind to think. Your Excellency, if this has failed with the conventional method of teaching, over the years (reflect on the definition of “science” given, above), there is no way, it (critical thinking) can again happen via television, radio, or any other form of non-conventional teaching method applied, moreover, in such an abnormal situation.

Fortunately, together with the Education Minister, Janet Museveni, you have always heed my advice, and I am very certain, even this time round, you won’t disappoint.

Jonathan Kivumbi, Educationist. 0770880185. [email protected]

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