Uganda: Examining the policy options

Harold Schiffman hfsclpp at
Sat Oct 27 15:57:23 UTC 2007

  Examining the policy options Margaret Wokuri

Hon. Odonga Otto's article "Speaking for peace in a disturbed world" (Sunday
Monitor October 21) was insightful especially about how Japan has managed to
maintain peace since the Horishima bombing and his call for institutional
development where issues can be peacefully resolved. What sent me soul
searching however was his suggestion that state actors ought to consider
having peace studies as part of the school curriculum. Plausible as the idea
is, it brings to question how many subjects these innocent souls will have
to study in the name of bettering this country.

To highlight a few instances, as Minister of Education, Mr Fagil Mandy
recommended compulsory inclusion of performing arts, and sports in the
primary school curriculum. Later it was also recommended that besides
English language all children should learn a second foreign language and
with the East African community coming, these children will have to take on
Kiswahili. Recently the Commissioner General of URA suggested that tax
education be incorporated in the teaching syllabi to create citizens who are
tax compliant. As gender activists, we feel gender should be introduced to a
child at the time one plans to have a baby and enforced at home and nursery

Environmentalists will say the same so will those passionate for democratic
governance. Soon PLE candidates will have to contend with; English,
Kiswahili, French, science, math , peace studies, gender studies, child
rights studies, environmental studies, democratic studies, performing arts,
and many more against the constant 24 hour clock!  Key question; what
difference will the teaching of those subjects to children make? The reason
subjects are at times called 'disciplines' is because they are supposed to
provide knowledge which should transform into a pattern of life.

Take an example of literature. By the time one is through with the reading
and analysis of Chinua Achebe's Arrow of God or Wole Soyinka's Kongi's
Harvest, one of the lessons is that egoistic and dictatorial leadership
breeds misery and grief and the best such leadership can harvest are human
skulls! By the time one is done with Richard Wright's Native Son, the
message is clear that discriminative policies drive the disfavoured into
hardcore criminals who not only terrorise the fellow helpless, but whose
terrorism beats all security systems to spill into the coverts of the
favoured. History, political education, or any other humanity has the same
tale of good deeds enduring time while bad ones are punished.

We have variously interfaced with these subjects. But how many people have
condemned dictatorship only to end up worse tyrants upon assuming power?
What therefore makes us think that our children will be better citizens if
we teach them, peace studies, moral studies or what ever?
*wokure at*

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