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Opinion: President Museveni has given up on the UPE, should the public do the same?

St. Kitzo Primary School, Kabarole

President Yoweri Museveni has implored parents who are financially sound to give their children a better education to guarantee a better future even it means taking them to Private schools” (NTV Uganda, 04.03.2018).

The pledges of yesterday is losing value for President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni, the process and the service delivery doesn’t matter, if it ever did. The Universal Primary Education was one of the brilliant moves he did and also got much more donor funding in the beginning of his Presidency. He introduced UPE in January 1997, as the time went the Government of Uganda invested more into the schools. As the Overseas Development Institute in February 2006, which stated: “The UPE programme has required a significant increase in public expenditure devoted to primary education. Total education expenditure increased from 2.1% GDP in 1995 to 4.8% of GDP in 2000, while the share of the education sector in the national budget increased from 13.7% in 1990 to 24.7% in 1998” (ODI – Policy Brief 10, Feb 2006). So the DFID sponsored brief are really explaining how the National Resistance Movement and President Museveni really used funds into the schools to make it happen. However, down the line the investments hasn’t continued and the progress of the policy has lost value. Since they have not continued or hold into that standard.

The President clarified that parents should feed their children and those who can’t afford should take their children to Universal Education Schools which he insisted should not charge fees, while the capable ones can pay in private schools or ‘big government schools’. “Universal Education Schools should not charge fees and parents must provide a meal for their children, called ‘entanda’. Government has provided UPE and USE for poor parents and here it is free. Those who can afford can take their children to other government schools and private schools where they pay but no child should be withdrawn from school” he emphasized” (Opio, 2018).

When you hear the man who is the leader, whose been the President since 1986, been there 32 years. Saying if you want to give your kid a good education, send them to private schools. The ones who are poor can send their kids to government schools. Therefore, if you have money, you will care more about the future for your kids. Because we as a state has given up the Universal Primary Schools.

This financial year the state is using 10,87 % of the national budget in 2018/19, that is down 11,37% in 2017/18. Both years are really proving how little it is concerning how it was when the UPE was booming around the millennium. In those years the state used about 20% or more on Education. Meaning the means to build and upgrade schools where there, also for more staff and more equipment was there. This has been forgotten and deemed unnecessary by the state.

Already in 2006, the UBOS Statistical abstract stated this: “However, the education facilities including classrooms, teachers’ houses and libraries have not matched the upsurge in the number of pupils. In 2004, provision of classroom space remained an enormous challenge. Table 2.2.2 shows that, only about half of the pupils had adequate sitting space” (UBOS, 2006). So the problems we are seeing today, is systemic from the mushrooming of schools and districts who built-up schools after the announcement of the UPE in 1997. I am not saying it is easy to keep the upkeep after the surge of schools, but if the state wanted them as a priority. They would have allocated funds to it over time.

Clearly, that part has gotten wasted and the state hasn’t figured out that buildings needs upkeep, schools needs equipment and teachers needs salaries. I know all of that seems basic, but the deep understanding of that seems lost somewhere.

Since if you are seeing the numbers, the Education Ministry got 24,7% in 1998 and now in 2018 it get’s 10,87 % of the National Budget. The schools has surged then and the budget is smaller, that meaning the more schools and teachers are getting significantly less funds for their operations. This is clearly the will of the state, as they are prioritizing other parts of government and not the schools. So the pledge before the 1996 Election is now being abandoned, the Ten Point Program point is being dismissed and the State showing disregard for its own system, as the rich can have their own. The poor can have lesser quality and the ones who care about their future can got to the private ones. Because of this I want to go back to 1996, because it says a lot, about why its like this today.

So, we are not going back to 1986 today, but 1996, when this happen:

Given his earlier opposition to the idea, President Museveni’s decision in March 1996 to make universal primary education part of his manifesto for the upcoming presidential election campaign represented a sharp break with existing policy. In a radio speech delivered on 27 March, Museveni promised that, if re-elected, he would implement a plan giving four children per family access to free primary education (the plan would also apply to orphans) (Radio Uganda 27.3.1996). This education promise was, however, just one part of an overall election manifesto that included pledges concerning liberalisation of the economy, road building, defence, and renewed East African cooperation. In fact, improvement in education was listed as only the fifth of seven bullet points on the back of Museveni’s

published manifesto (Museveni 1996). Though free primary education was only one small part of President Museveni’s initial election manifesto, during the course of the campaign it soon became clear that the promise to abolish school fees was striking a chord with the electorate. Ugandan officials from the period recall that several of Museveni’s close advisors repeatedly sent messages to the Ministry of Finance after campaign meetings in order to emphasise how the UPE promise had been well received” (Stasavage, 2006).

We could see it was his own initiative, as the President knew what would strike a chord, making sure the kids was educated and had a better future. The same resonates today, but the state has forgotten that. They are not caring, they build a giant program, a big school system of Primary Schools, but not allocated or planned the upkeep of them. That is why the state of the schools are going down and the level of poor public schools is rampant. The districts and sub-counties are not getting enough to keep the schools in functions or even the buildings up. That is why we can find pictures of schools falling apart and looking like they we’re forgotten the day after they finished building it.

From a report from the Ministry of Education and Sports in 1999 said this: “Uganda spent only US$8 per pupil in the early 1980s, and in financial year 1997/98 US$32.50 was spent per pupil” (…) “ UPE is one of the surest means that will lead Uganda to the attainment of the Jomtien Conference (1990) pledge of providing basic education to our primary school going population. As we provide that ìminimum package of knowledge, skills, values, and attitudes required by every person to enable him or her live as an independent, productive and effective citizen in a societyî the individual is empowered to meet her or his daily needs and aspirations, those of the community and the nation, which are focused on modernisation. Uganda is confident that by the target year 2003, Universal Primary Education will have been achieved for all its children” (Ministry of Education and Sports, P: 19, 21, 1999).

So in 1999, the State was hopeful, today in 2018, UPE is not for all children. Not if you listens to the words and the statement from Museveni. It’s Private Schools for the wealthy and the UPE for the POOR. Therefore, Museveni is claiming to classes and two system, which is really demeaning to the ones going to the UPE schools. This is his fault that the schools are bad. He introduced the system, he made it and built it. However, he forgot to the upkeep. He forgot the pledges of the past, even the goals of his own ministry in 1999. It is nearly 20 years since or 19 years ago. Therefore, if Museveni has forgotten it is natural, I don’t remember what I wrote a year ago. However, he promised this and used his Presidency to promote this. The UPE is one of the few grand achievements of Museveni. Even I can say that. But now its rotting and that is because the State has stopped funding it. It is their own decisions not upgrading or even maintenance of the buildings. It is weird that the NRM went into this, build this giant school program and had no plans for maintenance of the Schools or the Salaries of the teachers.

It is easy to start something, but when it continues, you needs to allocate, secure and also funds for day-to-day business. That is forgotten and today, Museveni has given it up. If not he doesn’t care about the UPE he introduced officially in 1997 and pledged during the 1996 Campaign. I say that because, well they have gone from using over 20% of the yearly budget in the 1998 to around 2000, but now the state has allocated as little as 10%. So it the Primary Schools are neglected, because the State has decided to neglect them. It is because the state has built a lot of them, but not funds to maintenance of them. Museveni knows this, but doesn’t say it. That is why the schools are for the poor, because the President even keeps the Government Primary Schools poor themselves.

I just have to ask the President, you used years and your time in the beginning of your time as President to build up the Universal Primary Education, have you officially given it up? Should the Ugandan population give it up too?

If you I can put the whole situation into one simple explanation: Museveni wanted to give the public a giant castle, he pledged to give the public that giant castle. He actually built the giant caste and made sure the public could use the castle. However, with time he didn’t have the funds or the money to maintain the castle. The walls and barricades are failing, the walls are weaker, the structure needs fixing. The servants, the people who are inside the castle are not getting paid and even educated to keep the walls steady. So, the stones and the building are looking more like a ghost-town than a castle. Museveni could have had a castle, instead he has a rundown ghost-town.

There are too many UPE schools that are rundown without proper buildings, which has been neglected. The same has the teachers and the pupils, who them all are living through it. Their future is depending on it and they are forgotten. Now the President tells, the ones who can afford it should go to the Private Schools instead. The poor has enough with the UPE schools. That just shows how he has given up the 1990s project.

Isn’t this a sign that you as a leader should have retired, since you have actually given up one of your achievements?

Peace.

Reference:

Opio, Sam Caleb – ‘I’m going to fulfil all my outstanding pledges – Museveni’ (04.03.2018) link: http://www.monitor.co.ug/News/National/I-am-going-fulfill-all-my-outstanding-pledges-Museveni/688334-4327940-view-printVersion-27vqxt/index.html

Stasavage, David – ‘The role of democracy in Uganda’s move to universal primary education’ (2005) Cambridge University Press

Ministry of Education and Sports – ‘THE UGANDAN EXPERIENCE OF UNIVERSAL PRIMARY EDUCATION (UPE)’ (July 1999).

The 1996 election and the 2016 elections; staggering similarities of government party and actions towards the opposition! The difference now is Besigye VS M7; then it was Ssemogerere VS M7!

1996 Museveni Sworn in Ceremony

As President Museveni lost with no swagger in 1980 he later returned twice with armies to become the president in 1986. The 1986 where NRA took the power; that story knows all of Uganda well; what Uganda has forgotten is the tactics and ways of rigging the elections of 1996. Even Dr. Kizza Besigye was ready for somebody else in 1996. That says something as the NRM tactics was using levels of fear and tell the general public: “if you vote for somebody else then the Obote-Dictatorship will return!” There is something wrong with that picture as this should be the ushering of democratic values that was installed and promised in the 10 Point Program from President Museveni. This was also the Election that ushered in the Universal Primary Election (UPE) while has done certain things with educations and spreading schools around the country, after many years to many of them has been neglected and has shown that the promise and reform was easier then actually achieving quality school education under the NRM-Regime.

The democratic values and fair elections were not achieved in 1996. As the countless reforms says. The Western nations and International Organizations accepted the result as a positive move for Uganda, even with the malpractices and also because still at this time the world saw President Museveni as the new breed of leadership. He would go away from all the things he might have built later in his presidential career. 1996 Elections was “No-Party” election with a new Interim Electoral Commission who was far from impartial. Kind of what the Electoral Commission proves without any subtlety in today’s election climate.

Besigye against Museveni candidature in 1996:

“Though Besigye was a National Political Commissar, minister and Museveni confidant, by 1996 – as his 1995 decision, and that of other officers like  now Lt. Gen. David Tinyefuza and the late Lt. Col. Serwanga Lwanga to oppose entrenching the Movement’s monopoly of power in the constitution and the  near-banning of political parties – the differences were public” (…)”However, it has now emerged that Besigye and other people in the NRM and army  in 1996 were opposed to Museveni running as the Movement presidential  candidate” (…)”In 1996 Besigye relented at the last minute to go and campaign for Museveni in Rukungiri. He appeared at no more than two rallies, and spoke at one. The very personal and acrimonious face off between the two men last year therefore arose from a feud that had been simmering for about 10 years” (COO, 2002).

Ssemogerere Manifesto

How not to vote for Ssemogerere:

“The Constant refrain during Museveni’s 1996 presidential campaign was that a vote for his opponents would cause a return to the past, the former dictator Milton Obote was waiting in Zambia to return to power if Museveni was defeated. One of Museveni’s presidential election poster featured a picture of skulls and bones besides a mass grave in Luwero with the caption: “Don’t forget the past. Over one million Ugandans, our brothers, sisters, family and friends, lost their lives. YOUR VOTE COULD BRING IT BACK”; another campaign advertisement stated bluntly: “A vote for Ssemogerere is a vote for Obote” (Bouckaer, 1999).

How the sentiment was during the campaign:

“Ssemogerere seems to have hugely underestimated the depth of fear and hatred for Obote and his party among the majority of Buganda. Virtually everyone interviewed  who had voted for Museveni emphasized that they had voted in part to avoid any chance of a return to the violence and anarchy of the early 1980s. The effect of Ssemogerere alliance with UPC, however, does not seem to have been intimidating. Most people felt shift in sentiment against Ssemogerere in the last two months prior to the election. The Museveni campaign strategy of increasingly emphasizing the UPC and Obote connection towards the end of the campaign period was felt to been effective” (IFES, 1996).

Hon Ssemogerere in Northern Uganda campaigning

Museveni used the laws to stifle Ssemogerere campaign:

“The Ssemogerere camp tried to set up branches in the country. This ran foul of the law against setting up party structures. The police constantly frustrated this method of trying to reach the voters. There was a simpler and more effective method used by the Museveni camp. It is simply to announce campaign task forces and groups for given locations. While Ssemogerere was attempting to organise by “structure”, Museveni was organising by “process”. The former violated the existing law; the latter did not. The task force approach recognises the criticality of patrons who mediate the delivery of the votes of their peasant flock. In this approach it is not direct contact with voters, which is not feasible in backward areas with all forms of barriers (language), but contact with the patrons who go through lesser nested patrons to reach the final voters. Yoweri Museveni set up a more effective patron–client campaign network than Ssemogerere’s party structure approach” (Kotorobo, 2000).

How it ended:

“Hours after the Interim Electoral Commission (IEC) led by Stephen Akabway had announced provisional results on May 10; the IPFC candidate Ssemogerere dismissed them as false at a press conference at IPFC headquarters in Kabusu, Kampala. Ssemogerere said: “I cannot accept these results as valid”. The New Vision, The Monitor, as well as the Crusader newspapers of the following day, quoted him as having said. “I have been a patient person in public life. I thought this was the best thing for this country. I have spent time with people I don’t agree with for the sake of democracy. I have not known time before or after independence, when people of different political beliefs, religions and nationalities have come together for once. Now all this has been shattered by the stubbornness of [Yoweri Museveni] wanting to cling to power,” he added. During the press conference, Ssemogerere also revealed 54 cases of malpractices recorded by DP across the country. The 64-year-old DP stalwart said rigging of votes included intimidation of voters by the State, use of pre-ticked ballot papers, use of fake voter’s cards and doctored voter registers” (Mugabe, 2016).

Questionable freedom of speech during the 1996 campaign:

“The Government controls one television station and the radio station with the largest audience. There are three local television stations, three local radio stations, and five stations available by satellite. Uncensored Internet access became widely available through three commercial service providers in major cities, although its price was prohibitive for all but the most affluent noninstitutional users. Freedom of speech did not fare well in the context of the transition to constitutional government, including the presidential and parliamentary elections. Guidelines imposed by the Ministry of Internal Affairs prevented members of the former constituent assembly from addressing groups outside their constituencies. Electoral rules prohibited “campaigning” by presidential challengers until the official start of the campaign 39 days before the election. However, in their official capacity, President Museveni and senior members of the Government were free to travel throughout the country for months prior to the election. Rallies in support of all three presidential candidates suffered varying levels of harassment from thugs, in some cases resulting in physical injuries. It appeared, however, that such incidents were particularly directed at President Museveni’s opponents. Yusef Nsubuga Nsambu, a leader of the Conservative party and a supporter of presidential challenger Dr. Paul Ssemogerere, was arrested in May and charged with sedition for his unflattering descriptions of President Museveni. He was released unharmed 2 days later” (U.S. Department of State, 1997).

Celebrating the victory:

“KAMPALA, UGANDA — Thousands of President Yoweri Museveni’s supporters drove through the capital honking car horns and chanting “No change” Saturday to celebrate his first electoral victory” (…)”When Museveni was declared the winner on national radio Saturday, tens of thousands of his supporters poured onto Kampala’s streets, chanting “No change” in the local Luganda language, blasting car horns, and waving branches and flags” (Bashor, 1996).

One reason why he won the 1996 Election:

“Not all NRM successes showed the system’s popularity. The government manipulated small constituencies to gain beholden candidates in many special interest seats created by the 1995 constitution for women, youth, workers, the disabled and the army” (ICG, 2012).

Ssemogerere Museveni

Reports of malfunctions during the 1996 elections:

““The election drew a lower turnout than expected and suffered some logistical problems, but Ugandans generally avoided widely feared violence” (…)“Many of the country’s 8.4 million voters stayed away from the polls, and in many districts, turnout hovered around 50 percent. Logistical problems also hampered voting. At numerous polling stations, Ugandans complained that their names were not on the list of registered voters. “We have waited for hours, and we cannot vote,” said Patrick Nuwgaba, 20, surrounded by about 20 people who said they had been barred from voting. “We have our voter cards, but they say the numbers we have don’t match the numbers they have for us.” Despite those problems, calm prevailed around the country. Election observers reported, however, that in some pro-Museveni districts, especially in western Uganda, Ssemogerere backers had difficulty voting because of hostile crowds” (Buckley, 1996).

Questions about the victory:

”Within 24-hours of voting — and while the ballot papers were still being counted — the Inter Political Forces Cooperation (IPFC) backing the main opposition candidate Ssemogerere, announced that the constitutionally imposed “no-party” elections had been rigged” (…)”We have left it up to individuals to decide whether to stand,” Ssemogerere told IPS. “The electoral process is wrong and its going to be wrong again. If anyone stands they should know it will be with those disadvantages.” (…)”The IPFC’s compromise decision was reminiscent for some people of the 1980 elections in which the UPC are widely believed to have cheated the DP of victory — leaving Ssemogerere open to accusations of legitimising the government when he then took up position as leader of the opposition” (…)”Museveni was backed by, and represented his Movement “no- party” system of government while Ssemogerere was supported by the DP and UPC alliance and represented a return to multi-party politics — a return which would have required a change to the constitution” (Bozello, 1996).

m7, besigye

As we see about this Dr. Kizza Besigye and other opposition candidates get the same treatment that Dr. Paul Ssemogerere of Democratic Party in 1996. The vote-rigging, the issues with meeting people, with consulting the party members in the districts, the time for campaigning which apparently happens also before the pre-election period in Uganda in 2015. President Museveni doesn’t only recycle pledges his Police acts similar in 2015 as in 1996. That should be thought of as he talks of that the Movement brings progress. If progress means the same structure that doesn’t offer people freedom or liberty to discuss politics. Then it is NRM for you tomorrow. As the 1996 experience shows; there is a multi-party elections tomorrow, but the signs of 1996 looks strikingly similar, and the Police Force and Governmental institutions is structured to facilitate for the ruling party and funding his campaign while the opposition struggles with unleveled campaigning field that has been all through to the 18th Feburary polls. There is a certainty that Dr. Kizza Besigye has used smarter tactics than Dr. Paul Ssemogerere, but them both has fought the same monster which used the same style of campaigning in 2015-2016 as before the 1996, as he then gave 40 days campaigning as the districts was less, and the same now to the other candidates.

The fear used to intimidate candidates has been used in 2016. As even the security outfits has been deployed and both the army and Special Forces Command; they have been there following opposition and the police has target their trail as the Electoral Commission has given okay to their campaign trail in the start of the campaign in November 2015. This here shows the levels of fear and strong militarized politics that President Museveni feeds on; that has occurred through the whole campaign in the same way it did in 1996. That 2016 and 1996 looks so alike is staggering. The names of the other “actors” are different, but the end-game is the same. Though we hope that the people who are ready for change will see it as the old-man with the hat will do what he can to keep power; even if the people are ready for something else then his empty promises. Peace.

Reference:

Bashor, Richard – ‘In First Direct Election Since ’62, President Wins Overwhelmingly’ (12.05.1996) – Chicago Tribune.

Bouckaer, Peter – ‘Hostile to Democracy: The Movement System and Political Repression in Uganda’ (August 1999).

Borzello, Anna – ‘UGANDA-POLITICS: ‘Where-To-Now’ Conundrum For Opposition’ (16.05.1996) – Inter Press Service

Buckley, Stephen – ‘INCUMBENT LIKELY WINNER IN UGANDAN PRESIDENTIAL VOTE’ (11.05.1996) – Washington Post

Katorobo, James – ‘The Uganda Presidential and Parliamentary Elections 1996’ (2000)

Mugabe, Faustin – ‘How free and fair was the Uganda 1996 election after 10 years of rule by the political party of the National Resistance Movement?’ (30.01.2016).

International Crisis Group (ICG) – ‘UGANDA: NO RESOLUTION TO GROWING TENSIONS’ (05.04.2012).

International Foundation for Election Systems (IFES) – ‘Uganda: Long Term Observation of 1996 Presidential and Legislative Election (May-July 1996).

Onyango-Obbo, Charles (COO) – ‘Besigye Opposed Museveni’s Bid in 1996, And Set Off Movt Demons’ (15.12.2002) – Daily Monitor

U.S. Department of State – ‘Uganda Country Report on Human Rights Practices for 1996’ Released by the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, (January 30, 1997).

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