Views from Fiona: Strikes in Uganda's Schools

Views from Fiona: Strikes in Uganda's Schools


We are seeing more and more student strike in Uganda. Ever wonder why? Fiona has her opinion to share.

By Fiona Abaasa
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First published: September 12, 2005


Striking of secondary students as a means of seeking attention or protest in Ugandan schools is becoming rampant. Hardly a term passes without a school striking and the pattern is becoming bizarre with school property being destroyed by students. On August 25th Thursday night, the day before schools’ official break off for term two holidays Kisubi High School students went on rampage destroying property worth million of shillings, computers with their accessories were stolen, others destroyed, dormitory windows smashed, school bus destroyed. By the time the police from near by Kajjansi trading center arrived, the students were heading for the school administration block known as the “White House” with petrol to blaze it down. A good number was rounded up and are cooling off in Luzira.


The school proprietor Mr. Ssemakula Herman says the cause of the strike was that students demanded an end of term disco that was denied to them, and that this sparked off the anger. In Kyambogo College some time back a dormitory block was burnt by students. In it, a student was burnt to death. In Nabumali High School last year, students rioted and destroyed school property due to food being bad and no milk in their porridge. Some excuses are flimsy to strike whereas others are due to the negligence of the schools management.

CAUSES OF STRIKES
Often the school administrations err in their dissemination of information. The students’ bodies are not used properly otherwise they would detect an impending strike. However, when we roundly castigate and condemn students for using violent means, we need to look at the causes of strikes critically. For example, if water is bad or not there at all and the school administration does not treat the problem as a matter of urgency, what do you expect? If it is routine, that students get an end of term dance, though not official, and then you don’t give them one without informing them why, circumstances are that they will riot. But with a strong prefectorial body things might be different. At Mbarara High School in the mid 90s, the students refused to eat or go to class, and certainly they got the administrations attention without violence.

FOREIGN STUDENTS
Private schools have advertised massively and attracted students from neighboring Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda, Sudan, Burundi and the DRC. This new phenomena is due to the apparently good education we provide, cheaper than their home countries. Ask the Kenyans. Often these fellas are not disciplined, lawless and not really interested in going to class. These values quickly spread to Ugandan students thereby creating a problem. Most stable urban schools have shunned away from admitting these foreign students because of poor behaviors and private schools are being severally tested.

GOVERNMENT EDUCATION POLICY
Policy makers in the Ministry of Education and Sports are partially to blame. How do you license a private school to operate without the most required facilities like toilets, urinals, water… etc? How does a school build four or five storied building without bathrooms, toilets, and common rooms on any of the floors? Where do you expect students to empty their bowels in the middle of the night? Go to the ground floor looking for these facilities? This is poor planning and the ministry should not license such schools. But they do. If something is not done to these "investors", our education system is being eroded by these opportunists.

By Fiona Abaasa
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First published: September 12, 2005
Fiona Abaasa is a visitor of UGPulse.com.

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