By Oweyegha-Afunaduula
To abhor is to regard something with disgust and hatred. That is exactly what I do when I sense that discrimination is being introduced in education in Uganda, which unfortunately, is now the case eversince President Tibuhaburwa Museveni introduced Universal Primary Education (UPE) and later Universal Secondary Education (USE).

It looked like President Tibuhaburwa Museveni was acting altruistically towards the absolute majority of our poor and needy who could not afford fees for their children. Of course the numbers of children in school rose supersonically, and President Tibuhaburwa Museveni has persisted in boasting about the numbers of pupils and students his Government has been able to get into school through UPE and USE However, he has completely ignored relating the falling quality of education and the high dropout rates in government primary and secondary schools, with declining quality of education being recorded in higher institutions of learning, which absorb UPE and USE products.

Besides, the quality, intellectual capital, knowledge production, debating and priotisation of issues is plummeting. Critical thinking and analysis seems to be a thing of the past. Scholars who engage in some critical thinking and analysis, out of fear, avoid those topics considered politically sensitive I, or that would create knowledge to challenge the mushrooming knowledge of ignoramuses in governance.

Discrimination in education in the country is making our situation abominable. Those who are supposed to lead and decide for us cannot do so with necessary knowledge. They proceed by trial and error to the detriment of our present and future generations.

Take, for example, the decision to pay science teachers higher salaries at the expense of Arts teachers and numerous government workers, including very senior ones, thereby stifling supervision and the pecking order.

In the biological sciences where I belong, the phrase “pecking order” refers to the order in which the animals eat, dominant first and so on down to the weakest. What the decision to pay so-called Science teachers bigger salaries than Arts teachers has not only deliberately introduced the crude divide and rule tool of governance in government schools, thereby Institutionalizing chaos in the school system.

However, it has also disorganized hierarchy in other systems of government. It might erode motivation everywhere and lead to decline in productivity of those institutions of Government that produce rather than consume.

Labour unrest might become a mainstay in the country. Even administrative and support workers across the board might express their disgust by sit-downs or by demonstrating with plackards or both throughout the country.

I cannot support a practice that divides Ugandans, and violates their human right to earn a living wage and develop.

As if what has happened in the education sector is not enough, President Tibuhaburwa Museveni, a latter day convert to preferentially treating knowledge workers with roots in natural science as a special category of workers, has been dividing the academia in Universities too.

He has influenced the University Councils of the State Universities to change their Salary Structures to ensure that lecturers and Professors in the Natural Science based disciplines and professions get higher salaries than their counterparts in the Arts (Humanities) and Social Sciences).

What he is doing – institutionalizing hatred for the Arts and Social Sciences – was also done by dictators Napoleon Bonaparte of France and Adolf Hitler of Germany. They wanted a docile, silent academia, that offered no critical thoughts and analyses of their power and practices.

They preoccupied themselves with technology and militarization to marginalize the citizenry and dominate it. Already, at Makerere University several disciplines in the Arts and Social Sciences have been abolished.

The academia have become docile and silent as if they are committed to a conspiracy of silence when many issues in the country beg intellectual guidance and critical thought and analysis. I cannot love practices that reduce knowledge workers to robots and condemns them to research topics that do not have value to change in favour of our citizenry.

What is happening is due to ignorance of what science is. As I have repeatedly stated, science is one with three dimensions: natural, social and humanities (Arts). The dimensions are not mutually exclusive; they are mutually inclusive.

They are also multidimensional. Each dimension and the multidimensions interact dynamically and benefit from each other. For example, natural science is in social science and political science in the natural sciences, and there is natural science in both social science and the humanities.

All the dimensions, for example, share the science of Ecology, and they all share the social science of Environment. Indeed a natural scientist who has studied Ecology and Environment, like I have, can feel at home in both the Humanities and the Social Sciences, like I did when I was a knowledge worker at Makerere University.

Therefore, I cannot endorse any discrimination among knowledge workers; neither can I see any sense in discriminating between the broad sciences: Humanities, Social Sciences and Natural Sciences.

In the history of knowledge, when all knowledge was pbilosophy we had no people called scholars. Teachers, such as Socrates, taught everything, which was quite natural because the human brain is capable of learning everything learnable and can even unlearn and relearn.

Scholarstism and academicism, which arose to challenge philosophy, created disciplines out of wholistic knowledge, which philosophy (literally the love of wisdom) as the whole knowledge, advanced.

Apparently, our indigenous communities also took a philosophical approach to education. They taught everything – asocial, humanistic, natural, ecological, environmental, lingual, cultural, medicine, engineering, creativity, innovation, et cetera. Of course God’s creation, innovations and teaching are/were non-disciplinary.

Therefore, I am not a fan of disintegration of knowledge, academically and politically. My experience in education determined my attitude towards knowledge production and knowledge practice, which also determines the way I approach issues, problems and challenges in our society: wholistically.

When I started school at Ikumbya Primary School in 1957, after Subgrade School ( Kindergarten) in 1956, during the colonial times in Uganda, I was taught everything: singing, playing xylophones, playing the long drum, dancing, poetry, nature study (natural science), agriculture, sports, design, Christianity, making pots, making ropes, making baskets, etc.

The aim was to develop my brain as broadly as possible, in order to have a broad view of life and the World beyond my family and the immediate environment. Nature study enabled me to go to other communities, acquainting myself with the diversity of Nature. I was developed into a wholesome being early in life.

All this made me fit in Junior Secondary Education at Mwiri Primary School between 1964 and 1965, and Secondary School and Higher School at Busoga College, Mwiri between 1966 and 1971.

I am largely what I am because of the early education I was given, beyond what my parents and grandparents gave me. I credit my parents and grandparents for teaching me courage and hatred for fear, and my Primary, Junior and Secondary School teachers for upstepping my courage even further, and squeezing fear our of me. As such I was able to take on what seemed impossible.

For example, at Busoga College, Mwiri, I did not do Arts and Science subjects at O-Level, but when I joined A-Level, I did Biology, Chemistry and a humanities subject, Geography, and I was able to be Head of House (Hannington) and at the same time serve as Prefect in-Charge of the Cafeteria, President of Dramatic Society, Debating Society and Social and Cultural Society simultaneously.

I may say I was made by Mwiri. Mwiri was responsible for me serving as Secretary General of Makerere University Academic Staff Association from 1997 to 2002, and for serving as Chairman, Nile Basin Discourse, a regional NGO for 11 countries, from 2008 to 2010.

When I joined the University of Dar-es-Salaam in 1972, I did Zoology (study of animals), Botany (study if plants), Geography (study of Lands, inhabitants, features, and the phenomena of the Earth and the Planets) and Development Studies.

This way, my mind continued to broaden. Development Studies was a multi-disciplinarity field of study in which all scholars across the University curriculum participated and students composed the same audience to interact with the diversity of scholars. We were introduced to the evolution of nations from political, cultural, geographical and socio-economic perspectives.

So, if I am from the biological sciences with adequate knowledge, wisdom, understanding and insight in the workings of society, this partly explains it. It also partly explains my capacity to write the way I do.

Unless I tell you that I am from the biological sciences, you will be perplexed immensely. So I cannot endorse disintegration of knowledge. Otherwise the explanation of Oweyegha-Afunaduula is God who made me.

There is something about my background education that makes me abhor segregation and discrimination in education, and this is it. When in 1980 I joined the University of Nairobi for a Masters degree in Zoology, my field of study was the Biology of Conservation or Conservation Biology, developed to address the loss of biological diversity.

At that time this multidisciplinary, interdisciplinary study field was located only at the University of Nairobi in the whole World. It was an arena of interaction of scholars from across the University curriculum and field professionals from diverse fields of practice.

While its foci were Environmental Management and Conservation of Natural Resources and Ecology, it also concerned itself with certain aspects of Human Society and Culture (i.e., Humanities). Besides, two of the key units of the programme were Political Science for Conservation Biologists and Social Science for Conservation Biologists.

Therefore, someone who went through the programme was superimposed at the intersection between the Natural Sciences, the Social Sciences and the Humanities. I would be the last to endorse and celebrate discrimination in education.

If we want integration of and interaction in anything, we must promote integrated and integrative education. When we do, we shall begin to produce graduates at all levels of education that will be agents of integration.

Such graduates will not be docile onlookers when their country is being disintegrated into meaningless small unviable districts. They will be advocates for a more wholistic, integrated country, and an integrated and integrative education system.

They will be able to work in integrated and integrative teams. If we talk of an integrated East African Community they will be the ones to explain it to East Africans more meaningfully and effectively. Discrimination is an antithesis of all this. I cannot endorse discrimination in education. Can you?

For God and My Country.
The Writer Is a Ugandan Scientist And Environmentalist

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