I have over the years maintained that behind every problem is the problem of leadership. The leaders choose the policies to guide them in how to govern their countries. Frequently however, they may choose policies that would have even been more suitable in the 20th Century and impose them on the 21st Century, which therefore, manifest more as a pollutant than suitable blueprints.
Unlike the 20th Century, which was more suitable for influencers that preferred similarity, simplicity, monolithism, monoversity, non-renewability of leadership, no change and disintegration, the 21st Century is far more suitable for difference, complexity, diversity, pluralism, renewability of leadership and fast change.
So we require leaders this Century who value difference, complexity, diversity, pluralism of thought and practice, renewability of leadership, integration and change at all levels of society and all stations of life.
Such leadership is the type we require to build an integrated and self-sustaining economy. But we have not been keen, politically, to have such leadership in place, and have preferred to carry the characteristic leadership of the 20th Century over into the 21st Century.
We needed an education system that is integrative and integrating to produce leaders that would constitute such leadership at all levels of society and in all stations of life. Unfortunately, your education system decided to stay in the 20th Century, just as the British colonialists wanted it to be, and to sink its roots deep in the 21st Century.
That education system, which has refused to be displaced, was disciplinary, the whole of the 20th Century was spent breaking knowledge into small, meaningless, non-interacting pockets of knowledge. In schools we had them organized in bigger units called departments, while in Makerere University, this tendency was carried over. The more closely related disciplines were organized in form of Faculties to underlie the falsehood that they could not interact.
So we got the Faculties of Medicine, Veterinary Medicine, Science, and later, Engineering in the Science divide, and Faculties of Arts (Humanities), Social Science, Law, and Education. These days they are called Schools, but the pattern or structure of education is the same: disciplinary.
If you challenge the education designers and managers that they are defenders of an archaic education system, they will tell you that they are promoting multidisciplinary education, yet they know this does not allow integration and interaction. They emphasise individualism, individual approach to work and individual achievement, as was the case in the 20th Century.
Painfully, our aged leaders who came over from the 20th Century, and the newer ones are absolutely products of the disciplinary education, which nurtures similarity, simplicity, monolithism, monoversity, and resists change.
They make all the policy decisions, often supported by foreigners and foreign Institutions that exploit the status quo dominated by disciplinary products of the archaic education system who are responsible for our failure to fit in the 21st Century dominated by the Cyberage and exploit the newer non-traditional sources of opportunities that were not there in the 20th Century.
The non-traditional sources of opportunities are found in interdisciplinary, transdisciplinary, cross-disciplinary and non-disciplinary education, which emphasizes teamwork, interconnectivity, integration and interaction, and de-emphasize individualism, individualistic approaches and individual achievement that breed arrogance, stupidity, foolishness, greed and selfishness, and conceal the inadequacy of those produced to tackle more realistic, broad-based problems and issues of the 21st Century.
The most permeating and proliferating non-disciplinary source of new opportunities that could never be there in the 20th Century is the World Wide Web (Internet). In Uganda this is being resisted by learners, who prefer pen and paper and lecturers in front of them (a fashion in the 2by 0th Century) and is being discouraged by our leaders from the 20th Century by over-taxation of the medium, because they see it as a threat to their unfair power and a new medium for democratic struggles.
Indeed, elsewhere internet has been effective in connecting minds fighting for human rights, justice and democracy. Besides, many firms these days are internet-based; belong mainly to young people; and show the innovative and creative capacities of young people.
When a government sabotages internet via heavy taxation of those whose use it enterprisingly – the young people – it is sabotaging their participation in building the economy. That is not short of treason. In a civilized country that is what it would be taken as: treasonous.
But in Uganda, which is said to have “its owners’, those behind the plot to sabotage the country by depressing the use of internet through taxing it heavily, simply go away with it and are unbothered by exclusion of a whole generation of Ugandans from effective participation in the economy, thereby pushing them down the abyss of poverty well into the future.
They have done the same to the pensionable senior citizens by denying them meaningful and effective access to their pension, which they would use to invest in the economy. The “owners” of the country falsely believe that foreigners will build the country or our economy for us.
But no foreigner will help you without helping himself or herself first. The country ends up helping him or her, or even the so-called investing firms, while exploitation is what the country gets from them. As if this is not enough, Government gives them tax holidays to exploit and allows them to take all the money they make back to their countries.
Meanwhile we borrow from international financial institutions to deceptively convince ourselves that foreign “aid” can develop our country. Yet those who say they give us aid are not charitable organizations.
They give us money to make more money for themselves and those firms and banks that invest in them. With our high rate of greed and selfishness, most of the borrowed money ends up in the bank accounts of those who take the decision to borrow on our behalf.
We are almost 22 years deep into the new millennium and into the 21st Century.
With this background information, if you asked me to tell you whether Uganda is ready for the 21st Century, without hesitation I would tell you that we are still deeply rooted in the 20th Century. In other words, we are more backward-looking than forward-looking. We emphasise falsehoods and deceptions and think and believe that is how we shall fit in the 21st Century.
The blame goes to leadership that fears change and loves to do what they do for the sake of power rather than making us fit in the Century with quality integrated education, quality health services, quality agriculture and quality energy.
If this was not the case, it would be providing effective leadership in every sphere of life, including University education, so that we have integrated and integrating education, producing integrated graduates who do not fear critical thinking, critical reasoning and Intellectual development.
Instead, leadership wants the humanities and social science abolished in our Universities, completely unaware that in the 21st Century every field of knowledge needs nourishment from the other, and that knowledge is one and should be promoted as such.
Leadership is also not wholeheartedly promoting internet use to fit in the 21st Century, mostly by our youth. To be relevant, leadership must develop a positive attitude towards Internet and allow quality debate of issues and problems to take place at all levels of society. Later will be too late.
For God and My Country
The Writer is a Ugandan Scientist And Environmentalist
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