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Prime Minister Nabbanja has the best idea for improving service delivery

PM Robinah Nabbanja

PM Robinah Nabbanja

Prime Minister Robbinah Nabbanja is onto something.

A brilliant idea to lift Uganda’s dysfunctional service delivery off the floor where it resides in chronic malaise. The crux of Nabbanja’s idea entails that for service delivery to improve, civil servants should be direct beneficiaries of that service.

During her keynote address to more than 170 head teachers and patriotism coordinators (yes, we have those in Uganda) at the Oliver Tambo School of Leadership and Pan African Centre for Excellence in Kaweweta, Nakaseke district, Nabbanja expressed concern about the high rates of teacher absenteeism in more than half of all Ugandan schools. 

According to World Bank reports, teacher absenteeism has worsened over the years in Uganda with rural areas being the most affected. In February, the ministry of Education and Sports (MOES) reported that despite the 2016 introduction of a World Bank-funded e-inspection system to curb teacher absenteeism, absenteeism is still pervasive.

In October 2023, the Inspectorate of Government revealed that Uganda’s education sector loses Shs 1.5 trillion due to teacher absenteeism. The ripple effects of teacher absenteeism spell disaster for Uganda’s development, seeing as children are an abundant resource here.

Teachers being absent implies children are not learning effectively, whose results are clearly visible in the high number of candidates failing national exams. A May 23 Daily Monitor headline rudely blazed, “64 out of 100 children in school but not learning-report”.

What do teachers have to say for themselves? Filbert Baguma, the secretary general of the Uganda National Teachers’ Union, sounds like a gloomy yet wise character in a tragicomedy, reduced to constantly repeating his lines. He told the Daily Monitor, “It is unfortunate and regrettable that we have degenerated to this level.”

He continued, “It will be worse than this in the coming days because of the salary discrepancies and the economic situation at hand.”  Baguma criticised MOES, “The silence of government on addressing the issue of teacher welfare makes it impossible for us to do away with absenteeism. We need to look into the issues and causes of absenteeism.”

Dear reader, now that we are fairly acquainted with the challenge, we return to Prime Minister Nabbanja’s wonderful idea on how to improve service delivery in the education sector. You see Nabbanja argued that teacher absenteeism goes against one of the core principles of the National Resistance Movement (NRM).

Dear reader, be calm, the core principle is neither corruption nor dysfunction. Check your patriotism for that is the core principle of Nabbanja’s idea.

Nabbanja informed her audience of head teachers and patriotism coordinators about a looming MOES policy that will ensure head teachers enroll their children in the schools of their employ as a means to ensure quality education.

Nabbanja, in her typical take-no-prisoners stance, warned, “We will see if you will allow your children not to receive a quality education. The policy is coming…You left our children in government schools ‘to whom it may concern’ while you are busy with your own business. You cannot blame the government.”

What a way to get your patriotism juices flowing. Nabbanja’s idea has attracted rather unpatriotic noises - even MOES has denied knowledge of this patriotic policy. Her critics argue that government should stop picking on head teachers and actually do the hard work of education sector reform, which includes better remuneration for teachers, improved infrastructure, and policy reform, among others.

The critics also point out that Nabbanja’s idea should be broadened. The problem with Nabbanja’s idea is that it covers only a miniscule slice of the national cake of service delivery. Let us up the ante all round and mandate that all public servants must only use government services.

Think of it as Buy-Uganda-Build-Uganda (BUBU) on Ugandan steroids. Imagine children of parliamentarians in government schools, spouses of parliamentarians flocking government health facilities, no need to go abroad for better healthcare.

Imagine the minister of Education and Sports frequenting government schools to check on her real grandchildren not the usual bazzukulu masquerading as citizens, no need for top bureaucrats to enroll their children in expensive private schools here or abroad. Imagine police bosses residing in the rotting shacks that dot police barracks.

Nabbanja’s idea is revolutionary, taking us back to the sun-kissed years of 1986 when people looked like their leaders were proud of that look. One bright and sunny day in November 2022, President Yoweri Museveni looked out the window of his impressive presidential convoy and saw unapologetic poverty.

Seated in lush comfort, surrounded by the best trappings of Ugandan political power, Museveni intimated, “I have been peeping through my car window as I travelled here … and I have kept wondering to myself how do these people (in Busoga sub-region) live through this sort of poverty?”

Dear Mr President, thanks to Prime Minister Nabbanja - you no longer have to wonder how people can look so different, so far, so removed from their leaders. Ask Nabbanja.

For you, dear reader, the words of American author, Ijeoma Olou, “When we identify where our privilege intersects with somebody else’s oppression, we’ll find our opportunities to make real change.”

smugmountain@gmail.com

The writer is a tayaad muzzukulu

Comments   

+1 #1 Remase 2024-06-09 04:24
Tayaad, just like others, Among, Mpuuga, Lubega Segona, Muwanga Kivumbi, Mao, Kyagulanyi, Besigye, justto mention a few, Nabanja has been overtaken by the M7's overstay in power that breads corruption, nepotism, tribalism and patronage.

That is the cause of poor service delivery. Not only teachers but also, doctors are poorly paid. However, a person like Mpuuga paid himself Sh. 500m for doing nothing for 2 years.

A person like Segona, moves around with over Sh. 150m in his car as shortchange, all taxpayers money, which he doesn't care to leave in his car when he takes it for a car wash! Besides Nabanja, how could Mpuuga, Segona, Kyagulanyi or Among care about poor service delivery or poor remuneration of our teachers and doctors?
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0 #2 Akot 2024-06-10 12:59
Quoting Remase:


Among, Mpuuga, Lubega Segona, Muwanga Kivumbi, Mao, Kyagulanyi, Besigye, just to mention a few, Nabanja has been overtaken by the M7's overstay in power that breads corruption, nepotism, tribalism and patronage.

That is the cause of poor service delivery. Not only teachers but also, doctors are poorly paid. However, a person like Mpuuga paid himself Sh. 500m for doing nothing for 2 years.

Segona moves around with over Sh. 150m in his car as shortchange, all taxpayers money, which he doesn't care to leave in his car when he takes it for a car wash! Besides Nabanja, how could Mpuuga, Segona, Kyagulanyi or Among care about poor service delivery or poor remuneration of our teachers and doctors?


Thanks.

Ugandans are doing everything to ensure they are slaves of the migrant family!
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