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Ramathan Ggoobi on `simplicity as the ultimate sophistication’

Kampala, Uganda | AGNES E NANTABA  | Ramathan Ggoobi is Policy Analyst, and political economist who spearheaded the arm ‘economics that works in Uganda. He lecturers economics at Makerere University Business School (MUBS) and has co-authored several studies on Uganda’s economy. Aside from living his career dream, he is also passionate about imparting and sharing knowledge with others; especially young people. He set off to change the face of economics in the country from a complicated and mathematised discipline to make it user friendly. That was more than ten years as an undergraduate student of economics at Makerere University. Although he had chosen to be an economist as early as senior three, Ggoobi was tasked with a tough course which he says appeared like rocket science.

“The way it is taught makes it appear like rocket science yet it deals with real life and everybody would be interested,” says Ggoobi.

“I had a critical mind and vowed that if I ever become a teacher, I would change the way it is taught”.

Upon graduation in 2003, Ggoobi was among the best students of economics and was recalled to offer lecturing services at Makerere University. But before the process of induction would be completed, Ggoobi was contactedto offer the same services at Kampala International University (KIU). A month later, Kampala University was in need of his services which he also offered to deliver. Ggoobi says that he juggled both to make ends meet until he was contacted by MUBS.

This would finally be his best and for the last ten years, he has taught economics at the institution.

“I must confess that it has been a very beautiful journey,” he says, “Most of my students have testified that my way of teaching helped them to love economics.”

Ggoobi also got involved in the global debate of why economics teaches more neo-liberalism. He says that he drew his inspiration from Prof.Patrick Kabunakukiwho advised him to pursue economics that works.

As many teachers continue to abandon the profession in pursuit of better paying jobs, Ggoobi is not about to drop his passion. As some of his colleagues are complaining about the teaching load, he is happily asking for more although he confesses that his only challenge comes at the time of examining and marking thousands of scripts.

“Many people have tried to get me out of teaching; including the government but I maintain my stand,” Ggoobi says, “I want to keep changing the mindset of young people which contributes to the betterment of the country.”

Ggoobi is pursuing his PhD at Walden University and works on several projects. But he always avails time for teaching.

He says his passion for economics was inspired by former Bank of Uganda Governor and proprietor of defunct Greenland Bank, Sulaiman Kiggundu who visited his secondary school a couple of times during fundraising drives and other ceremonies.

“I would listen to some of his stories of how he had travelled the world and from then, I set out to be like him as an economist,” Ggoobi said.

Ggoobieven volunteered to craft Kiggundu’s image as an art piece.

Ggoobipossibly picked his teaching traits from his parents, both teachers. Two of his other siblings are also lecturers.

Ggoobi was born in Butambala Kitagobwa Ngando to teaching parents although his father crossed over to civil service after some time of teaching. His mother, Lucy Nakibuule taught until retirement. He studied at Kitagobwa UMEA primary and secondary school. Most of his childhood memories revolve around the school environment as the family spent many years residing at the school campus. He also recalls visiting some relatives in Kampala during holidays and getting actively involved in some work to earn some money.

Ggoobi has a partner; Stella Nakamya, with whom they have two children.

Ramathan Ggoobi’s Liteside

Any three things that we don’t know about you?

I am a simple guy; I believe that simplicity is the ultimate sophistication although some people take me to be unserious. I am so obsessed with happiness. I love people a lot which explains why I share a lot .

What is your idea of perfect happiness?

Freedom of choice, self esteem, and having a stable income

What is the trait you most deplore in yourself?

Sometimes I am over generous; my people have actually told me to lessen.

What is the trait you most deplore in others?

Loose talk; there are people who can’tobserve something and keep it to themselves. There are also those who are not objective in their thinking and conversation. I don’t like people who use their own biases to judge others.

Which living person do you most admire?

I admire economists but one who stands out is Amartya Kumar Sen. He is a professor of economics and is like the grandfather of economics that works. He introduced the aspect of development as freedom and he helped so much to switch the mindset of economists who used to think that economic development is about countries getting infrastructure. Like him, I believe that development is about people and in that education and health are very important.

What is your greatest extravagance?

I buy books a lot and sometimes I buy those I will never read.

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