55 years of Independence: NRM's education revolution since1986

The advent of Yoweri Museveni’s administration in 1986 breathed new life into, among others, the education sector.

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By Henry Mayega

The insecurities of the late 1960s, 1970s and the 1980s had imposed on our statehood and Psyche an indelible blight that debilitated all national sectors including education.

The advent of Yoweri Museveni’s administration in 1986 breathed new life into, among others, the education sector. Museveni’s vitalising industry, moral vision as well as unexampled ability, in a combination, reversed that downward spiraling of national progress. 

By 1986, the only body in charge of pre-university examinations, the Uganda National Examinations Board (UNEB) was performing dismally with massive leakage of examinations due to graft. The slung “scud”,  gained prominence in the early 1990s to mean leaked examination papers. The crafters of that term drew inspiration from the then Iran-Iraq War that had seen unprecedented use of scud missiles. The administration, through its intelligence community, rid that body of graft relating to examination leakage and restored its integrity and indomitability.

In the ensuing years, the Public Universities Joint Admissions Board (PUJAB) was established to manage enrolment into the mushrooming universities, a sequel of a well thought out measure to increase access to higher education and eventual massification. That was a dauntless step that would later be accompanied by awarding 1.5 points to the girl child on admission; that signified a big milestone in Uganda’s efforts to promote gender equity and access. The glittering AK47s used while liberating Uganda in 1986 and looked like a solid mass of steel moving at the regularity of a pendulum were not in vain. When one surveys the composition of Yoweri Museveni’s then fighting force, the NRA, without a jaundiced eye, women were given prominence; ideally because he called both men and women to his side, affording them equal opportunity to exercise their talents to the fullest and to share in the labour and eventual glory of a transformed Uganda underpinned by a good education system. A new chapter was opened for women and for the first time we got the first women as vice-president and Speaker, Specioza Kazibwe and Rebecca Kadaga respectively.

As we celebrate the 55th Independence Anniversary, there are success stories to tell; one of them, a robust education system. The visitation committee appointed by President Museveni and headed by venerated educationist, the late William Senteza Kajubi, penned the “Kajubi Report”, whose recommendations have had far reaching reforms to Uganda’s education system.

In 1997, the Universal Primary Education (UPE) policy was implemented by the administration thereby burgeoning enrolment from 3.1 million pupils in that year to 8.4 million in 2013. Other spin offs of the measure included the inception of the TDMS programme, teacher development management system, increased construction of storeyed administration and class room blocks. The UN commended Uganda for achieving 90% of millennium goal 2. Two beasts emerged in the jungle, though, and have been recalcitrant namely: the resultant unemployment and parents who have not cooperated in providing “entanda” to the UPE children over which Zac Niringiye declared a “fast”.  Has he resumed his meals? Legendary, magnanimous and using his moral power, Yoweri Museveni and his administration implemented the Universal Secondary Education (USE) in 2007. Uganda was the first to do so in Sub-Saharan Africa. The measure increased enrolment, in that year, by 69% and by 54% in 2010. By 2010, enrolment had risen to 265,000 from 2006’s 172,000. Again as in the case of UPE, USE has seen greater teacher recruitment as well as astronomical construction of storyed administration and class room blocks; relatedly, by demands of public commission, secondary school construction at sub-county level is being rolled out.

The exigencies of state have also led to the construction of more laboratories and simultaneously starting both day and evening classes to accommodate Uganda’s ever increasing population due to an administration environed with political as well as social-economic stability, a consumable by all.

And yet Yoweri Museveni’s opponents are petrified by these achievements. He has won the veneration of the Ugandan voter by rendering himself worthy of their esteem through hard work; he restored credibility of and accessibility to   education where upon private sponsorship in universities has astronomically increased access. On the other hand, more public universities have been opened and have espoused regional balance. Muni, MUST, Soroti, Kabale, Gulu and Busitema Universities are a case in point here.

The administration’s policy of privatisation birthed Islamic University in Uganda (IUIU), Uganda Christian University (UCU), Nkozi, Nkumba, Mountains of the Moon, Uganda Pentesostal University; providence intended it as the instrument of effecting these achievements at this time because Yoweri Museveni and colleagues increased our national pride and sovereignty and united us by indissoluble tie. They, without waiting for many people of many minds to shape these policies, acted in time.

The inception of the National Council for Higher Education (NCHE), Functional Adult Literacy Programme, School facilitation grants, the loan scheme for university students, revival of technical schools (like Laibi, Atiak Kichwamba, Kisubi), Skilling Uganda Programme and many others point to one thing, a revolution in the education sector since 1986. Yet it is a night mare to Museveni’s light-weight opponents who have had an impropriety of cultivating violence and goading into the madness of smuggling our former colonizers into our political realm via civil society organizations like the ones which were raided recently by Uganda’s keepers of law and order.

The sum total of all these interventions is a successful revolution because Yoweri Museveni entered the great theatre of action without indolence but with the rare skill of fixing our country’s Gordian knot without terminating his virtues and he had a strong disinclination to mediocrity, yes.

The writer is the Uganda’s Deputy Head of Mission in Beijing, China


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