On May 28, 2017, death robbed us of one of Uganda’s prominent educationists in Professor Lawrence Mukiibi, the proprietor of the chain of St Lawrence schools.
Mukiibi should be recognized for his relentless contribution towards privatization of the education sector in Uganda, and his humble rise to success is quite unrivaled.
However, while bidding farewell to the fallen Mukiibi, there emanated allegations of the countless number of children he left behind. Mukiibi was at liberty to sire any number of children as he wished. However, the point of contention is that there are several allegations leveled against him of having used his position to engage in sexual affairs with his own female students.
It is not only decadent for a person with the status of the late professor to engage students, whether unsuspecting or not, into sexual exploitation but it is also detrimental to his long-term legacy.
An online newspaper, The Watchdog, reported that many people were shocked by Professor Mukiibi’s act of fathering more than 50 children whereby most of them were as a result of ‘preying’ on some of his students.
It further alleges that during his burial ceremony, over 20 young pregnant girls (probably old girls of St Lawrence Schools) were shut out of the ceremony due to the embarrassment to the Mukiibi family.
I am cognizant that these are media reports and he is not here to verify them; however, going by the various reports, including the children who were paraded at his burial, prima facie, these allegations are believable.
Needless to say, it is a total shame that the public is loudly silent about condemning the late Mukiibi’s immoral acts. It was unfortunate for religious leaders to shield the late Mukiibi since his acts strongly conflicted with Catholic values that need to be jealously respected by any practicing Catholic.
The Observer reported on June 5, 2017 that the few religious leaders contacted to comment on the late Mukiibi’s bizarre behavior shied away from condemning the acts, especially his multiple unreligious sexual affairs. One argued that people should not judge the Church for not taking a firm position against the late Mukiibi.
However, in my opinion, the Church needed to rise up against such moral decadence. Religious leaders are the mirrors of society; perhaps that is why their guidance and counsel sets benchmarks for morality. Since they are highly-respected people in society, they must live up to the task of preaching about the ‘bad’ and ‘good’ so that people can have a true reflection of a positive life.
As concerned citizens and parents (with school-going children), what we must learn from such anecdotes is that protection of our children while at school goes beyond entrusting them with school administrators or teachers.
We should often interact with them to find out whether such administrators don’t make improper sexual advances that may later culminate into loss of confidence and concentration in class, psychological torture, early-child or unwanted pregnancies and sexually-transmitted diseases (STDs).
It is high time we dealt with errant school administrators or teachers in our education system and only concerted efforts will achieve this. School administrators or teachers should parent our children while at school, and not turn them into girl or boyfriends.
The ministry of education should put in place stringent policies in schools to monitor and protect students from selfish interests of school administrators or teachers.
There are many female students that are victimized through sexual exploitation by school administrators or teachers but since it happens in the dark, it remains there. Most times the perpetrators are powerful and, therefore, the victims are at a disadvantage of raising the red flag for fear of loss of employment or having their voices suffocated.
We need to empower our children, especially the girl-child, to bravely come out and report all forms of sexual attempts caused on them by errant school administrators or teachers. Parents need to also report to police cases of sexual advances by the same people.
If we don’t break the silence about the vice, it will continue manifesting in schools, and our children will end up being victimized by malicious and morally-bankrupt school administrators or teachers. This may even escalate after they leave school and join employment circles where many women applicants have to first pass the ‘carpet interview’ to get a job.
However, this doesn’t suggest that all teachers engage in such conduct with their students. There are those who are strongly against it, and need our support.
The author is the executive director of Legal Aid Service Providers Network (LASPNET).