COMMENT | Alfred Geresom Musamali | I last week prayed, ate, drank and danced at the graduation party of Royal Palm Nursery and Primary School, Namyoya, Goma Division in Uganda’s Mukono Municipality. But at about that same time, some students of Kyambogo University (KYU) were, by vice-chancellor Prof. Eli Katunguka’s own admission, conniving with staff to forge marks in order for the students’ names to be included on this year’s graduation list. Meanwhile, an unidentified female was contriving to fashion her gown beautifully branded with Uganda Management Institute (UMI) logo and colours in such a way that it exposes the dark, silky under-garment she provocatively adorned. The trade mark photograph of her in the outfit has gone viral on social media, setting UMI stakeholders into raging debates over whether she is indeed a graduate or an impostor.
UMI head of communications Peter Kabazo said, “The picture is indecent but note that it was taken at the home of the graduate rather than at UMI. Also, universities (in Uganda) cannot and should not attempt to play the moral police (otherwise) we will turn ourselves into Iran or Saudi (Arabia)”.
Kabazo, who forwarded to The Independent more awkward pictures of females dressed in gowns of other institutions of higher learning, said, “Note also that a lot of noise (about the pictures) is actually a result of our gender blind society. Where (for instance) are the men’s pictures? Why are only women’s pictures circulating?”
At Royal Palm, my six-year old granddaughter, Leah Clare Laker and her classmates were celebrating having endured home and online learning through the Corona Virus Disease 2019 (Covid19) lockdown to go through the curriculum which was a luxury to us in the early 1960s. The rationale for the graduation function was that every phase of life should be marked with festivity. When a child is born, the family celebrates, when that child is given a name (whether at baptism or at some other cultural function) there is still need for a celebration. Other occasions worth festivity are confirmation into faith (especially Christianity), initiation into manhood (like my Bamasaaba do at circumcision), marriage and even death. So, too, should we celebrate, when a child graduates from nursery school, or enters lower then upper secondary school, or enters an institution of higher learning (whether it is a university of other), then graduates and begins fending for themselves.
Joseph Omongole, the Royal Palm headteacher, said they had ensured that all the children had attained certain stands before including them on the graduation list.
Eva Ekanya, the Royal Palm director, was full of advice to the children to consider this only the beginning of academic life, saying that things were going to get harder and harder as they progressed. Mrs Ekanya pointed out that the skills they had attained in praying, singing, dancing, counting, socializing with others and caring for themselves were going to make a foundation for further life. She appealed to the parents and teachers alike to continue nurturing the children in order to turn them out into responsible citizens sustaining themselves in honest pursuits while also contributing to societal advancement. She the thanked the parents and teachers for having worked so hard to nurture the pupils so far then wished everybody and Merry Christmas as well as a Prosperous New Year, 2023.
“Unfortunately, the chaps who with connivance of staff forge marks and graduate from university are poised to use those skills, too, as the basis for their professional pursuits in the new year and thereafter,” said somebody in a professional and academic WhatsApp group to which I belong.
“They are the public officers who when deployed on field assignments in hard to reach areas will remain somewhere around their offices then forge accountability documents such as photographs of the events (courtesy of PhotoshopTM), activity narrative reports, expenditure receipts as well as mileage for the official motor vehicles used.
“Much worse, because KYU has an engineering background stretching as far back as 1958, in private business the forgers of its qualifications will be overseeing the mixing of wrong proportions of construction materials so that the pit latrines they are contracted to build fall in even before the clients squat over them.
“In politics, they will not even sit in Parliament or the Councils to listen to both sides of arguments before voting wisely on an issue. Instead, they will either just stay away chasing deals as disproportionately fat salary flows or come to sign into attendance books for purposes of receiving sitting allowance then settle down into snores, only to wake up, demand gratification for siding with any moneyed proposition, receive the payment and not even tick the boxes appropriately.
“And in spiritual matters, those are the chaps that will seek membership of the synod purely for the purposes of grabbing church land.
“As for our daughter who dared expose undergarments while dressed in such well branded gear designed for a dignified broad daylight graduation ceremony (assuming that the photograph is not a result of computer misuse), I hope we shall not pass them at street corners next week taking their vile habits a step further”.
So, as Laker and her classmates enter the primary education cycle, we the parents, teachers and other caregivers have an enormous task of ensuring that we impart into them the skills that will lead them, as Director Eva Ekanya requested, into becoming responsible citizens capable of sustaining themselves and contributing to advancement of society. But if we do not effectively do that, then we shall have celebrated hard work at a nursery school yet at university adults end up forging marks to graduate.
The author is Founding Director of Vicnam International Communications Ltd, a private firm of communications, public relations and information management consultants. He specialises in the Proofreading and General Editing (PAGE) of documents and can be contacted by Tel: (+256)752-649519 and by Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.