Uganda Peoples Congress
Plot 8-10 Kampala Road, Uganda House,
P. O. Box 9206, Kampala
Universal Secondary Education Like UPE is Doomed to Fail
21 February 2007
While launching the controversial Bonna Bagagawale programme in Masindi District yesterday, President Museveni warned head teachers of USE schools not to charge any fees or other dues above those prescribed by Government. It will be recalled that government is to pay a maximum of shs 75,000 per student per term.
The USE policy of offering substandard, cheap and populist "education" to the poor like UPE before it, is doomed to fail. It is part of NRM policy to keep the majority of Ugandans in poverty and deprivation while a small patrimonial and parasitic class that thrives on state patronage and corruption benefits from first class education by attending first world schools.
The Government policy is to keep the children of the peasants, rural and urban workers who constitute over 90% of the population in poorly funded UPE schools. The majority of these children of peasants and workers study in "schools" without basic requirements such as text books, exercise books, pens and even motivated teachers. After seven (7) years of neglect, they pass in division three or four from where they are admitted to equally poor USE schools.
The USE schools which charge less than Shs 25,000 have no libraries, textbooks, or motivated teachers, let alone, laboratories, equipment and other accessories. According to last years senior four results only 813 schools out of 1,929 had at least 5% of their students passing in first grade. Indeed 406 schools had no single first grade. The situation in these poor schools is bound to worsen under USE.
Intakes under the two UPC administrations were such that, the gap between the poor and the rich was very narrow and access to quality education was more widespread. However the NRM policy of keeping the majority of the people of Uganda poor, has led to the growth in disparity between the rich and the poor. Under the UPC administration, children of the poor parents had opportunity to study in good schools funded by the government. The likes of President Museveni and several of his Ministers and Generals would never have had quality education if UPC implemented UPE and USE in such haphazard and thoughtless way. In their ungratefulness to the people of Uganda, they have put in place policies to keep the poor in a vicious cycle of poverty.
The government policy is ostensibly to promote science education. However the practice is to pay lip service to education let alone science education. The failure rate of science subjects at primary seven and senior four attest to the NRM's failure to put in place any credible science oriented education. The USE, poorly funded as it is, will result into worse performance in science subjects and promote mediocrity. Large numbers of students with poor science backgrounds at primary level will study in schools which have no functioning laboratories.
With the growing rot in public universities, including Makerere University, the education sector right from primary school up to university is destined to collapse. Before the NRM came to power, there were no incidences of exam leakages, forgery of University diplomas and degrees. There was good quality control in education in tertiary institutions. Today, the NRM mafia have invaded even the former bastion of quality education and research.
General Museveni's populist education policy which is based on quantity rather than quality has resulted into a stunted nation manned by poorly trained manpower. Coupled with poor terms and conditions of service, the semi educated graduates of the NRM'S educational system cannot be the backbone for a growing and enterprising economy. They are the very cause of poor economic performance.
Our education system that has been wrecked by 20 years of movement mafiaism has reduced Uganda into a net importer of skilled labour in the name of technical assistance. Today even a VIP latrine is designed by a World Bank consultant. How can this economy and its educated people compete in world job market?
The Uganda Peoples Congress calls upon the people of Uganda and its friends to rescue the education sector from the predatory hands of the NRM by relentlessly exposing the rot in the education and working to remove the NRM regime from government.
For God and my Country
Mama Miria Kalule Obote
President, Uganda Peoples Congress