OpED

My message to President Museveni: We need an overhaul in Ministry of Education

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Ministry of Education and Sports

Ms. Janet Museveni of Ministry of Education and Sports and his husband Yoweri Museveni

The Ministry of Education and Sports (MoE&S) is a cabinet-level ministry of Uganda. It is mandated to provide technical support, guide, and co-ordinate, regulate, and promote quality education, training and sports to all persons in Uganda, for national integration development, and individual advancement. It is also the responsibility of government, through the Ministry of Education and Sports, specifically in private education institutions, to ensure that the private education institutions conform to the rules and regulations governing the provision of education services in Uganda.

Against this background, Your Excellency, are you convinced, beyond doubt, that the Education Ministry is executing its duties, as required by law? Arguably, basing on what is happening within the country’s education sector, one can confidently say that the Ministry of Education and Sports has out rightly failed out on its constitutional mandate of guiding, co-ordinating, regulating, and promoting high quality education, within the country. The £1000 question here is: Where is the missing link? Your Excellency, are you aware that the people supposed to supervise and monitor the progress of education in Uganda, are at the same time players in the industry? Ministers, commissioners, District Education Officers (DEOs), and head teachers of public schools, among others, are all running schools of their own. These people are using state-owned resources to run their institutions, and nobody can touch them, because they are their own supervisors. Teachers of public schools, specifically secondary school teachers only show up for business, when they have lessons; they spend most of their time in private schools, a clear indication that they do part-time work in public schools. And because the people meant to counter this vice equally benefit from their services, the vice goes on uninterrupted. To this end, public schools have greatly suffered, while private schools have remained afloat.

The Ministry of Education and Sports has TOTALLY failed to regulate, direct, and control business in private education institutions, as required by the Constitution. By and large, private education institutions are operating under the laissez-faire (leave us alone) arrangement, despite the fact that Uganda is operating as a mixed economic system, and not a free enterprise economy, per se. Ministerial directives are passed just for the sake of it, for the biggest percentage of these directives are never implemented. Because the players are at the same time the managers/administrators of education within the country, you definitely cannot rule out the aspect of conflict of interest.

Your Excellency, there is no doubt, all the underlying problems facing our education sector, as a country, emanate from here. Despite the fact that Parliament has passed a couple of laws governing education in Uganda, this has just been done as a fashion, for these laws, are simply left on paper. A case in point is the Education (Pre-primary, Primary, and Post-primary) Act, 2008. Honestly speaking, one wonders why Parliament wasted taxpayers’ money on this Act, for over 90% of the clauses in this Act have been out rightly abused by the Ministry. Your Excellency, while addressing the nation after the NRM’s Central Executive Committee (CEC) elections, you said, “If parents do not have money, let the children study for free in government schools.

I have been talking about this for 20 years, but it has never been implemented, because it is opposed by the local elite who are looking for business”. Your Excellency, have you heard of the common adage, “free/cheap things are expensive in the longer-term?” With all due respect, Your Excellency, would you encourage General Muhoozi, Natasha, Patience, or Diana, to educate your grandchildren from any of Uganda’s public schools, specifically at the primary school level? Could there be any of your ministers who is educating their children from public primary schools, specifically those of Universal Primary Education (UPE)? Needless to emphasize the fact that the best facilitated and/or performing public secondary schools, are even much more expensive than a number of private schools, within the country.

Your Excellency, must we simply go in for free education, regardless of its quality, and all those other things that come along with education, so as to make a holistic child? Needless to emphasize the fact that the situation is not any better even in private schools, for our education system, has time immemorial placed a lot of emphasis on rot learning, than critical thinking, analytical reasoning, and logical problem-solving, which are core aspects of an ideal teaching-learning process.

ALSO READ: Open Letter to Education Minister, Janet Museveni; Online Examination, at whatever level of instruction, is broad-day examination malpractice

Teachers/educators, at all levels of study, are simply teaching what they have crammed, and not what the learners are supposed to know/learn. To a large extent, this explains why we have been introduced to a lot of wrong information, in our academic journey.

Your Excellency, have you laboured to study the numerous reports published on the progress of education in Uganda by the National Planning Authority (NPA) and the Uganda Bureau of Statistics (UBOS), including the National Assessment of Progress in Education (NAPE) reports? If so, are you convinced with what is going on with our education, as a country? If not, I pray you find time, despite your busy schedule, and study these reports, starting with the 2013 and 2015 NAPE reports. Your Excellency, I pray through Parliament, you enact a law barring all those persons operating private businesses, from serving in the line ministries and/or government agencies, where their businesses belong, as a way of fighting against conflict of interest and, of course, corruption. Honestly speaking, you cannot own and/or manage a chain of schools and be a minister, D.E.O, or head teacher of a public school, at the same time. Your Excellency, I pray you reflect on the common adage, “You cannot serve two masters at the same time”.

I just do not know of any school proprietor, who can allow any of their teachers/employees to operate a parallel/competing business. In fact, in all private schools where this has happened, such individuals (teachers/employees) have had their contracts terminated, forthwith. Your Excellency, the local elites fighting your 20-year old idea of promoting public education in Uganda are not very far away from you, for these are within the Education Ministry, itself. Truth be told, Your Excellency, none of the agencies under the Ministry of Education and Sports is convincingly executing its constitutional mandate.

There is overwhelming evidence to prove this assertion. Unless an overhaul is done at Embassy house, I can guarantee with certainty, Your Excellency, your idea will remain on paper, and will soon vanish, like water in the desert. It is also my humble prayer, Your Excellency, that you get us a minister who is readily available; a minister who is accessible. Your Excellency, we need a minister whose security detail is not as detailed as that of the current minister. Your Excellency, perhaps, if I might ask, of course, with due respect, given the security detail of the Education Minister, is this (security) for a minister, or the First Lady? Your Excellency, how possible is it for one, regardless of status to easily knock at the gate of State house, purposely to meet the Education Minister, of course, for official business? What is the appropriate time (or day) for one to officially interact with the minister at Embassy house? There is no doubt, Your Excellency, the Education Minister’s, Janet Museveni (Mrs) humility, is second to none, but the danger is, by virtue of her status, as the First Lady, she cannot serve in this position to the expectations of the common citizenry.

The Ministry of Education and Sports is a very sensitive ministry, which requires a person who, as already mentioned, is readily available and accessible. The Education Minister should be a person whose residence can be easily accessible to the common man. S/he should be a person whose mobile telephone contact is available to the general public, 24/7, for purposes of easing communication. The Minister in charge of education should be a person whose car, under normal circumstances, can easily be intercepted by the common citizenry, purposely to share with him/her (the minister) issues concerning education in their respective areas. The Education Minister should be a person whose security detail is not any different from that of an ordinary minister. S/he should be a person readily available in office, during clearly defined time periods for easy access by whoever needs his/her service. Your Excellency, it is common practice to hear and/or listen to various ministers addressing the general public about issues concerning their respective ministries on the various broadcasting medium houses, an opportunity that we have missed out in education, since the Education Minister cannot easily be reached out by the press. Your Excellency, with all due respect, we need a minister who is readily available, and easily accessible to the press. By and large, Your Excellency, there are numerous issues concerning our education sector, as a country, but we have nobody to share them with, since getting access to the Education Minister is a real tag of war. I know one can easily talk of the state ministers; Your Excellency, there is a huge difference between a minister and a state minister.

The numerous issues concerning education in Uganda need the attention of the Minister, and not merely a state minister. Your Excellency, I am convinced beyond doubt that whatever you are doing is for the good of our country, education, in particular. I, therefore, pray that you treat this correspondence with the urgency it deserves. Arguably, your timely intervention, will go a long way in solving the problem.

Jonathan Kivumbi.

 Educationist; communication and language skills analyst. 0702303190/0770880185. [email protected]

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