Kibuli S.S@68:Is It still the Mini-Harvard of Uganda? What happened to being the best in Sciences and Sports?


Friends,
We Thank the Newvision for publishing the photos of Kibuli.S.S @68 and it’s nice to see my friend and former H/M,Hajji Kawaase still in shape. He has kept a smile on his face from the time i got to know him up to now. He is such a good man who had a lot of influence on a lot of people who are now important.I will spare you the ugly details but he is arguably the most respected former H/M in Uganda at the moment.

I didn’t attend this event though i was informed about it in advance. As you know, Kibuli S.S. is in my blood and I was there in spirit with those that attended. I have seen a few oldies I know in the photos including Dr.Badru Kiggundu of the EC. May be, we should wait for the next one inishallah as the stage is still dominated by our elder brothers and sisters. Was that Hajjati Saida Bumba who is seated opposite Dr.Badru Kiggundu? I have not seen these people for a long time and I’m in touch with only a few of them. Some look older and others look they have got pills that make someone immune to the old age. They need to tell us the secret please!

I had already received a few photos of the OBs that attended but i didn’t see anyone from the UK there. So, may be they will need to organise another one in the next decade inishallah when most of us,the NKUBA KYEYOs, have gone back home.

I have to insert here that what I have heard more often is that our standards in Kibuli S.S. have dropped down ever since Hajji Mukasa left.My intention isn’t to weaken or water down what Brother Alhajji Matovu has achieved at both Kawempe and Kibuli S.S but we have been told that Kibuli.S.S is not the same Kibuli we all used to be proud of. Kibuli used to be a mini-Harvard throughout the time i was there and we were competing with the likes of Namagunga, Gayaza, Buddo and others in that league, but i didn’t see it listed among the schools with those students that got quadruple As in their A’levels. I no longer see its headlines in sports in newspapers? What happened?

I think UPE is partly to blame as it has kind of affected the Muslim based primary schools that used to feed students to schools such as Kibuli S.S and Kawempe. It seems local school boards are now made up of politicians who wish to fulfill the president’s manifesto than anything else. I believe about 60% of Primary leaving students are functionally illiterate, and unable to do elementary mathematical computations or write and read English properly.Those who can read, write, and compute, can be self supporting but they are not as equipped as kids during our time. Standards have gone down especially in rural based schools particularly the UMEAs.

Kibuli S.S used to be among the best in sciences during Hajji Mukasa’s time. I think it was partly due to better laboratories and teachers we had. Unfortunately, I was told that most of them passed away. I didn’t do sciences at A’level as adolescence made me pursue other dreams, but I know for a fact that sciences are good for a kid’s future and I would encourage anybody with a brain to do them, to go for it. Anyway, I didn’t like the A’level Math teacher then……… so I went for Arts, but it was probably a silly adolescent decision. Kids should be encouraged to do science subjects rather than arts……. life becomes a bit easier in future.

Science is a neutral mechanism for describing how nature presents itself to our senses. It has no purpose other than find the best theory that sheds light on nature. Einstein’s relativity,Newton’s gravity,Darwin’s natural selection, Hutton’s superposition and cross-cutting relationships, etc., are all theories. They just happen to be the best formula for working out the problems seen in nature.

Science is no different than math. To discover keys behind the mechanisms that produce what we see is exactly the same as banging out mathematical formulas to describe shapes. Nobody expects gravity to suddenly reverse, or the general theory of relativity to fail. As a matter of fact, we expect these theories to fail with the same regularity as
A= (pi) (R^2) will fail to describe the area of a circle.If we are not meant to find the best way to describe nature to gain an understanding of the mechanisms behind it, science would not exist.

I really hope that the representatives of the Uganda Muslim Teachers Association (UMTA) look into this matter and see to it that Muslim schools improve on their standards in science subjects. Kawempe Muslim Secondary School used to do well in arts but it seems they are also in some sort of a decline. Anyway, someone should look into these things as some of us are fed on street talk only. Thank you!

Byebyo ebyange


Abbey Kibirige Semuwemba
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‘”The three separate branches of government were developed as a check and balance for one another. It is within the court’s duty to ensure that power is never condense[d] into a single branch of government.” – Judge Anna Diggs Taylor

Does Speaking English fluently measure someone’s intelligence in Uganda?

Dear readers,

Some Ugandans have been criticizing Vice president, Dr.Bukenya’s fluency in the English language, particularly when he appeared to be struggling with English at a business forum in India as indicated in the YouTube video:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yNdb1n4MyWM&feature=related

The same groups have called for president Museveni’s press secretary, Tamare Mirundi’s head, because he cannot also express himself properly in English during press conferences. Others have also been mistakenly praising the president of one of the DP factions, Norbert Mao’s oratory skills for intelligence. Some have even, out of ignorance, said that Mao is more intelligent than the Mayor of Kampala, ‘illiterate’ Sebagala. But what is the truth in whole this?

Normally a person growing up just hearing a language will not speak it as a native speaker or someone that language is a mother tongue. However, if one begins speaking a language on a regular basis, one usually keeps an accent all their life. For instance, some of us have developed funny accents because of the regions where we live in Britain but does it mean that we can express ourselves better than Bukenya or Tamare Mirundi(presedential Press Secretary)? The answer is ‘no’.

For all practical purposes, a person speaking a language at mother tongue level is a native speaker. Therefore, Dr.Bukenya cannot speak English in the same way as an English man or like some Ugandans who have been abroad for ages. A native speaker may once have meant “native” in the original sense of the word, i.e. born in that country, but now it just means a person who grew up speaking that language – which is the only way to get perfect in one language.

Indeed, a lot of people that pass through educational institutions in Uganda can express themselves in English, but are not (and may never be) as good at English as a “native speaker” or someone who has lived abroad for years. So when Tamare Mirundi speaks English, he represents a large group of elites in Uganda, and this is ok as long as people understand what he is trying to say.

Again, it is not just about grammar. Understanding the various regional differences of English or American English can be quite challenging as well. For instance, I can bet several Ugandans would not understand a thing when they hear an English man from Yorkshire or Liverpool(UK) addressing them because of the accent. In the UK itself they accept people that know how to express themselves in good English but they don’t demand them to be from Anglophone countries, or speak English fluently. This means that Dr.Bukenya or Tamare Mirundi can get any job they want in the UK with their level of expression in English.

I am no expert on all these matters, but my personal experience is that there are really big differences between individual people. There are  those who live in a country for more than 20 years and still speak the local language with a heavy accent while others are really hard to identify as non-native speakers after only three or four years. I don’t know what the reason for this is.

But of course it does not often happen that people have to be perfect in the language, and I don’t really think this is necessary. If we want an open society in Uganda, we have to be more tolerant against people not perfectly speaking our languages or any foreign language such as English. For instance, there are many people who are native Luganda speakers by birth, like me, but who speak a highly ungrammatical language that is not really rich on vocabulary. Many non-baganda beat their level of language.

It can also be proven that even a native speaker’s fluency is his/her own language can diminish given enough time in another linguistic environment.  There has been several notable Ugandans example of this, but I won’t go into it.

Is Ssebagala Illiterate?

Let me also correct people one thing: Ssebagala Nasser is not an illiterate man as he can read and write. He can read and write Luganda fluently. He can read English but cannot speak it fluently. So their use of the word ‘illiterate’ is totally misplaced. But then again, history has shown that illiteracy is not in any way a measure of one’s intelligence. For instance, according to Islamic scriptures, prophet Muhammad (SAW) never knew how to read and write but he managed to spread Islam under very difficult conditions, and Islam today has got second biggest following after Christianity.

Wealth and intelligence

It is true that wealthy people are generally more intelligent than average all over the world. But this is not the same as saying that the current Mayor of Kampala,Hajji Sebagala, is more intelligent than  Mao, but it is very possible. I don’t know, but it’s very possible, since intelligence is very difficult to quantify.My argument here all hinges on the word “generally,’ and I hope some people don’t equivocate on the meaning of that word. Yes, there is a distinct subset of wealthy people that are less intelligent than average but overall the rich tend to be smarter. That is a fact!

Alhajji Ssebagala, James Mulwana and most rich Kampala men are more street smart than the likes of Mao, and they are probably more intelligent than the likes of Mao. Probably, if Ssebagala had decided to invest more of his time in first acquiring more degrees before business, ‘theoretical’ elites would now be calling him so intelligent, because their definition of intelligence is on how much qualifications someone has got.

Look, Uganda, unlike USA or UK, people just don’t become rich through stockbrokers and mutual funds. One has to be ‘OMUYIYA’(creative) to make it to the top. Those who make it through straightforward means: acquiring education, getting a job, and becoming rich, are not many. But Pessimists are people who believe in elites and governments. They believe that famous college professors are smarter than ordinary men and women, which is totally wrong.

Education and intelligence

There is this false idea that education = intelligence. Education may lead to understanding of intelligence, but it can just as easily lead one away from their real abilities.   We must not confuse education and intelligence with cult of education and intelligence.  In many ways, an illiterate Ugandan peasant knows more about human nature, economics, and moral values than some highly educated Uganda bureaucrat steeped in Marxist theory, dialectical materialism, and historicist mumbo jumbo.  A person can be highly educated with all the false ideas and idiocies.  Only the CULT of education says that a person is more intelligent simply because he’s read more books, has earned a Ph.D. and given lectures.

For instance, I know a lot of uneducated men in Bugerere at Kisega Village, including my grandfather, who act more intelligent than this crop we have now got from Makerere university. For 1000s of years, the most highly educated Chinese believed that business was dirty and exploitative, and so China did not make economic progress like the West.

One can study for years and years, but if the ideas are false or misleading the educated can be more stupid, naive, and ignorant that those who learned of reality through everyday experience. Norbert Mao saw Ssebagala losing the trust of Ugandans by leaning himself more towards president Museveni and NRM, but the ‘intelligent’ Mao has been publicly praising president Museveni several times. The ‘intelligent’ Mao thinks that  a fragmented opposition can stop NRM from leading Uganda for more 30 years.

That’s why I discourage people to go for postgraduate studies for the sake of beautifying their CV. One needs to find himself before going for further studies. We have all got abilities which we never exploit just because we are rushing to impress the society and those around us.

Is Mao more intelligent than Ssebagala?

Intelligence can’t even be quantified, let alone measured – and I see zero evidence anywhere that Mao is more intelligent than Ssebagala. If we define intelligence in terms of “success,” then Ssebagala has done well for himself than Mao.Speaking English fluently does not make Mao more intelligent.For instance,the computer with an NLP software understands plain English -but it is only as intelligent as its rules & database allow it to. It cannot acquire intelligence or use common sense.

Overall, we should all respect each other and never to make a mistake of measuring one’s intelligence, perfection or literacy depending on their fluency in a language. Yes, English is very important and we should all strive to learn it because the prevalence of English as a language of commerce and of technical communication easily connects us to the global village and global opportunities. It’s one of the reasons why I have been advocating for its promotion in East Africa at the expense of Swahilli.

Byebyo ebyange

Abbey Kibirige Semuwemba

Iddi Amin

What has gone wrong at Makerere University

Friends,

Makerere was once one of the most powerful universities in Africa but it has recently become a laughing stock in the last ten years or so. I don’t know whether this has got partly to do with ill planning from the regime in power or its the administrators, but what  I know is that Makerere University is still burying itself in its original history as an attraction of the new students instead of adopting regular strategic planning. Higher education or university education is now part of the global world and it has taken Makerere ages to realise that. For instance, Makerere have just started online admissions just after moreover several years of operation. In this day and age, the most successful institutions will be those that can do strategic marketing planning, carve out niches, and develop new programs that will drive students to the institution. Part of this planning will include investment in advertising and marketing initiatives aimed at developing institutional brand names and student prospect leads.

Why would faculty Deans have such big offices at Makerere in this day and time where saving office space is very important in the developed world. For instance, most of the lecturers in universities in the UK here can share an office as many as 3 people. The only thing that separates them is their computers and desks. If Makerere and Uganda universities need to come out of this ‘big office’ culture, they need to start looking at their institutions as businesses which makes some profits rather than purely educational institutions. Many academic traditionalists get very upset when you start referring to students as customers and education as a business but this is a short-sighted view if often what causes the death of many small private colleges in and around the world. Because of this traditional mentality, it is alleged that the new vice chancellor of Makerere was welcomed with huge debts accrued from administrators who don’t want to run the institution as more of a business.

It’s a pity that the deans of faculty at Makerere put their efforts in ‘okulembeka’ or negotiating foreign money for themselves instead of focussing on developing scholarship and grant opportunities for their students. Makerere needs to adopt Porter’s Five Forces to keep it going. Competition in any industry, including academia, does not arise from differences between competitors in that single industry. It also is dependent on the underlying economics of the industry. Porter’s Five Forces provides a practical model that also addresses economic principles. Porter maintains that strategy is not found on a direct line from point A to point B, that it is not the pursuit of a single ideal position.

This takes me straight to the point of entrepreneurship that some Ugandans have pointed out. In this 21st century, universities should act and think as entrepreneurs and produce more entrepreneurs by over investment of entrepreneur courses. Possessing an entrepreneurial frame of mind gives the institution an advantage over its competitors. Whether it is higher education or business, the strategic framework should be underpinned by the same characteristics: reflective, innovative, brand supportive dominant logic, and exceptional capabilities. However, I must also stress that to become a successful entrepreneur does not necessarily need someone to become a graduate though it helps. That’s why the government needs to help the entrepreneurs at Katwe and other places.

The government should also transform most of the higher rated colleges in different parts of the country into universities to reduce on overcrowding of Makerere University. For instance, polytechnics in the UK were transformed into universities. Most of the universities in the UK with the word ‘Metropolitan’ were once polytechnics including the one I studied in. It’s not that the government of UK totally abandoned the technical skills these polytechnics were offering. What they did was to build vocational colleges in their places. So you going to find that in almost all cities in the UK there are colleges with names such as: College of music, College of building, College of Technology, School of catering, …….. and this is done to expand on technical skills in the country.  The UK nationals don’t pay any fees while studying in these small colleges. Therefore, having a large pool of technical colleges in Uganda will also widen on the technical skills among the ever increasing population of the country.

Finally, risk taking is more of a personal initiative which has got nothing to do with the level of education. So whether educated or not, you can become financially successful through personal initiatives. This probably explains why majority of the richest in the world are of modest education. Let the administrators of Makerere take risks and try new things every now and then to bring back the magnetism Makerere once had. They should not be stuck in the past.

Byebyo ebyange

Abbey Kibirige Semuwemba

United Kingdom

semuwemba

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Uganda at heart

Semuwemba is a Ugandan residing in the UK

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"The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy. "~ Martin Luther King Jr. ~

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