JINJA – A friend claims Uganda qualifies for the World Guinness Book of Records, 2024; that she has become the first country since the Medieval Era to award perishable academic degrees.
Anyway, there was a time during the times of the philosophers when degrees were not necessary to produce knowledge.
Now I understand Uganda has also made it to the Guinness Book of Records as the topmost consumer of alcohol in the world. Is it true? If this is true, why doesn’t Government strategize to combat alcoholism before it invests more public money in the much hyped Parish Development Model? It is possible earlier such schemes aimed at fighting poverty without targeting whole communities but individuals such as Myooga and Bonna Baggagawale failed because of alcoholism. Many who benefitted from the money bonanzas involved may have diverted easy for money into satisfying the urge to drink alcohol.
A country where reportedly on the average each individual drinks 12 litres of alcohol annually, people allocate considerably far less time to production and far more time on drinking and consumption of all type and manner. This to a large extent explains why Uganda has little to offer on world markets for sale and why Government has made Uganda a topmost borrowing country globally and domestically to make the country’s ends meet.
Unfortunately the country has become trapped in a debt web it is unlikely to extricate itself well into the future if government continually fails to create policies to spur production and engage most able-bodied people in productive employment. Instead, Government is encouraging grabbing of traditional land, where agricultural production made Uganda a dynamic economy in the past, by people who were not in the past land based but grass and cow based and who are just learning to settle and cultivate the land.
Government is exacerbating the consumption culture by popularising money bonanzas as the preferred strategy of fighting poverty in Uganda. However, those who are lucky to get the easy-gotten money are spending it the way they see best for them: consuming alcohol, marrying additional women or generally engaging in social activities to make themselves happy. Without paying attention to alternative ways of fighting poverty that involve whole communities Government has for years has moved from one failed money bonanza to another without learning from the mistake of giving money to individuals instead of creating an environment of possibilities, opportunities and hard work.
It is wrong to maintain that such a country is a happy one simply because its people excessively engage in alcohol consumption and in pursuing other non-productive ventures, such consumption of illicit drugs. Such a country is a sad one. The sadness of Ugandans and their country is due to many interacting factors, including: poverty, alcoholism, imposed leadership and choices, numerous denials, politico militarism, milt politics, ethnic politicisation, political ethnicisation, Apartheid-like governance, depreciated health care, corruption, an anti-people, pro status quo National Budget, modern slavery, violence, refugees and former refugees, hereditary politics, inequity, various injustices, individualisation of national resources, mushrooming national debt, multiple taxation, overconsumption, ecological decay and collapse, environmental degradation, climate change. Numerous insecurities (including physical, academic, intellectual, cultural, economic, ecological, moral, etc), diminishing pluralistic society, nepotism, bad governance, and an education system in crisis, to name but a few.
Let me focus on education. It has become increasingly clear that Uganda’s education enterprise is a one in crisis. It is important that Government addresses the University curriculum issue. Knowledge is changing so fast to become integrated and integrative, with knowledge producers tending to be integrating and integrative in their production of knowledge, but in Uganda in particular and Africa in general, we overwhelmingly produce, transmit and acquire knowledge disciplinarily as if we are still in the 20th Century.
Elsewhere, the approach to education in Universities has transformed to be integrated and integrative, with more integrating and integrative scholars. Education has thus become interdisciplinary, trans-disciplinary, cross disciplinary and non-disciplinary. Interdisciplinary, trans-disciplinary, cross disciplinary and non-disciplinary professors now abound. At our universities, disciplinary, or else multidisciplinary professors continue to predominate. They continue to produce students as if they are all going to become little professors. They continue to produce for us graduates we do not need. When we task them to provide solutions to our problems, there solutions be one the new problems because they provide disciplinary solutions that cannot be reconciled. It is worse when wicked problems are concerned (i.e problems that do not lend easily to disciplinary analysis and solutions such as environment and climate change.
Our Universities must change with the times or perish. We need to assign the slow professors and other academics (i.e those who want to stick to disciplinary and multidisciplinary knowledge production and transmission) to the past, because they do not want to keep peace with the era of new knowledge production. New knowledge production implies new kinds of scholars and graduates in a changing knowledge environment more welcoming to change in the education enterprise.
In conclusion, Uganda is a country in multipronged crisis requiring openness to alternatives in approaches in terms of policy and action. Thinking and rethinking must be taken seriously. Every effort must be made to reduce dependency syndrome, which is disabling us in a difficult fast changing Century driven by information and communication and ever threatened by arms race and militarism.
It necessary to encourage academics in both public and private universities to study:
- The Influence of the disciplinary University Curriculum on the Acceptability of Uganda Degrees.
- The relationship between Money Bonanzas and alcohol consumption in Uganda.
- To review University curricula more regularly in accordance with current trends in new production of knowledge and a new graduate.
For God and My Country.