We prefer being in the dam, not the swimming pool

26 Jan

By Stephen Twinoburyo

When a frog lives in a bucket and it’s thrown into a swimming pool, it’s easy to convince it that it’s living the best life ever and should forever be grateful.

If it finds other frogs, it’ll be difficult to convince them that they can actually live better in their natural dam nearby but the proprietor is keeping them in the pool so as to harvest fish in the dam – and show other animals that these frogs are living a superb life.

When by a matter of chance, I started looking at Ugandan stats recently, I was horrified to find that much as we have moved from a bucket to a pool, we are doing badly – even in the region.

The graphs below show the number of people living below $1.25 as well as the poverty gap at $1.25.

Poverty Trend

The trend shows a worsening situation – i.e more people living under $1,25 while the rate of reduction of the poverty gap has almost come to a stop.

It appears as if Ugandans have been lied to in various ways and we’ve swallowed everything that has been thrown at us. For instance, along we’ve been told that Universal Primary Education (UPE) was the creation of NRM. This is however a UN project across many countries and Uganda has not managed its part well. UPE is the second goal of the UN Millennium Development Goals that was aimed at “ensuring that by 2015, children everywhere, boys and girls alike would be able to complete a full course of primary schooling. Of course this target has been missed. According to the Global Competitiveness Report of 2015-16, out of 140 countries, we are number 88 in the primary education enrolment rate and number 113 in the quality of our primary education.

The UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco) estimated that 68% of children in Uganda who enrol in primary school are likely to drop out before finishing the prescribed seven years. Last year it was reported that since 1997, the government had not revised the amount of money it paid to educate a child annually, which stood at 7,560 shillings. A 2012 study found that in primary seven, two out of 10 pupils could not read a primary two-level story. This is compounded by the low salaries paid to teachers.

In 2007, Uganda became the first country in sub-Saharan Africa to introduce universal secondary education (USE), a very commendable step. At the time, a UN report said Africa had the worst secondary school enrolment rates in the world. Only 34% of secondary school-age children were enrolled in class.

It’s the management of USE that has been our problem.

According to the 2014-15 Global Competitiveness report, our secondary school enrolment rate stood at 27.6% putting us at number 138 out of 144 countries and at number 132 out of 144 in the quality of education.

A year later, the 2015-16 Global Competitiveness report put our secondary school enrolment rate at 26.9%, showing a drop to 138 out of 140 countries (only Mozambique and Chad were worse than us), while the quality of education dropped to 133. Note: Note: only 133 countries were recorded in this section and we were last. On a scale of 1 – 7, with 7 being the best, we scored a 1.

Some of the challenges USE faces are inadequate teaching space and materials, improper teaching infrastructure, a shortage of properly trained or knowledgeable teachers, a poor quality education, low pupil achievement, and inadequate and late disbursement of government funds. Of course there is also corruption and red-tape. As such, standards have fallen. However, it remains an important development if only it can be well managed.

When I was in Uganda recently, I was happy that we no longer in the tiny waters of the bucket and were now in the sparkling blue waters of the pool. Having subsequently looked at the bigger picture, I’m now convinced that the pool is not where we should be.



Posted by on January 26, 2016 in Stephen Twinoburyo's blogs


3 responses to “We prefer being in the dam, not the swimming pool

  1. Roberto KJ

    January 27, 2016 at 19:54

    I would have really loved to also comment on your blog here, but i am barred by my conscience because i am a principled person and i stick to what i think is right and correct regardless of who does what or not and not merely money and cheap manipulation with a hope for some pecuniary benefit or otherwise. You started a very serious blog discussion forum which was working well but you reneged and backslid into a terrible coma of either fear of the dictator Museveni and his henchmen or i dont know what happened and now here you are for whatever reasons you want to try a come back!! Wel, for me as an individual, i really need assurance that you will stick to your guns…thankyou bro

  2. Twino Speaks

    January 28, 2016 at 07:39

    Thank you Robert for the reply.

    You are very right. For a long time I did not write on the blog – though to an extent I wrote my thoughts on social media, especially facebook. many people, surprisingly including some in the NRM, asked me why I had stopped writing on the blog. It’s not just on the blog but also the articles I used to write in both SA and Ugandan media greatly reduced.

    Writing and maintaining a blog requires time. It also requires research as you can see the figures in the above post. The long and short of it is that I had career (business) demands that required my full attention and I had to put writing aside for a while.

  3. Roberto KJ

    January 31, 2016 at 17:36

    Well..that is a fair reason for your absence; but other public circles provide other reasons for your creation of the blog and this being that you wanted the dictator Museveni to hear your critical comments, if at all they were and then later bribe you off to silence you since this is the game he has played for a long time on some cheap, unprincipled populists who put their stomachs first before nation!! It was even asserted that actually you had been bribed….and it was also indicated that you set up appointments in Uganda to meet some of the dictator’s close family henchmen like Rwaboogo, etc to your disappointment.. Whether these allegations are true or not, it appears you had them in your thoughts. Since we cant know what takes place in the deep dark heart of a person, we give you the benefit of doubt. But as for me, i still think this dictator does not deserve to even eat anything with together with his cahoots and family henchmen just because they have sinister agendas against the people of Uganda. It is better for me to eat nothing and die of hunger than dine with this cruel, senile dictator Museveni and his appendages of family and friends who hope to establish a clan kind of superiority of certain people who we know and who are useless people to us and just too inferior to us. We shall finish this dictatorship…take it or like it and hold all those crooks in his family directly responsible for all the wrongs of thirty years…So if you are with us don’t shift because at the end you may be a wanted man for no apparent reason. However, you must show the side you belong to clearly for your safety and without fear or favour. Thankyou Ndugu


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