COMMENT | Alfred Geresom Musamali | Last week I prayed, ate, drank and danced at the graduation ceremony at Royal Palm Nursery and Primary School, Namyoya, Goma Division in Uganda’s Mukono Municipality. But around the same time, some students at Kyambogo University (KYU), according to Vice Chancellor Prof. Eli Katunguka, duped staff into forging grades to get the students’ names included in that year’s graduating list. Meanwhile, an unidentified woman contrived to design her dress to be beautifully branded with the Uganda Management Institute (UMI) logo and colors, revealing the dark, silky slip that provocatively adorned her. The branded photo of her in the outfit has gone viral on social media and has engaged UMI stakeholders in heated debates over whether she is in fact a graduate or a con artist.
UMI Head of Communications Peter Kabazo said: “The picture is indecent but note that it was taken at the graduate’s home and not at UMI. Also, universities (in Uganda) cannot and should not try to play the moral police (or we will turn into Iran or Saudi (Arabia).”
Kabazo who forwarded The Independent more embarrassing images of women dressed in robes from other colleges, said: “Also note that much of the noise (about the images) is actually a result of our gender-blind society. Where (for example) are the male pictures? Why are only pictures of women circulating?”
At Royal Palm, my six-year-old granddaughter Leah Clare Laker and her classmates celebrated surviving studying at home and online during the 2019 Corona Virus Disease (Covid19) lockdown to progress through the curriculum that was in place for us in the early 1960s years was a luxury. The reason for the graduation ceremony was that every phase of life should be marked by celebration. When a child is born the family celebrates, if that child is given a name (whether at baptism or at some other cultural event) there still needs to be a celebration. Other celebratory occasions include confirmation of faith (especially Christianity), initiation into manhood (as my bamasaaba do in circumcision), marriage and even death. So too should we celebrate, when a child graduates from kindergarten or enters lower secondary school or upper secondary school or enters higher education (university or otherwise), they graduate and begin to care for themselves worries.
Joseph Omongole, Royal Palm’s school principal, said they made sure all children had reached certain levels before placing them on the final list.
Eva Ekanya, the director of Royal Palm, advised children to take this as just the beginning of academic life, saying things would only get harder and harder as time went by. Ms. Ekanya pointed out that the skills they gained in praying, singing, dancing, counting, interacting with others and caring for themselves would lay a foundation for their future lives. She appealed to parents and teachers alike to continue to encourage children to become responsible citizens who pursue honest endeavors to support themselves while contributing to the progress of society. She thanked the parents and teachers for working so hard to support the students and then wished everyone a Merry Christmas and a prosperous 2023.
“Unfortunately, the guys who are making their mark and graduating with the tacit approval of the staff are ready to use those skills as a basis for their professional activities in the new year and beyond,” said someone on a professional and academic WhatsApp group to which I belong.
“They’re the officers who stay somewhere near their offices on field operations in hard-to-reach areas and then forge accounting documents like photos of the events (courtesy PhotoshopTM), activity reports, expense receipts and mileage of the company vehicles used.
“Much worse, given that KYU has a technical background dating back to 1958, the counterfeiters of his credentials in the private sector will oversee the mixing of incorrect proportions of construction materials, so that the pit latrines they were commissioned to build collapse even before the clients squat.” about that.
“In politics, they won’t even sit in parliament or councils to hear both sides of the argument before voting wisely on an issue. Instead, they either just stay away chasing deals as disproportionate salaries flow, or come to sign attendance rolls for seat money and then snore, only to wake up to demand a reward for partisanship with an offer of money, to receive the payment and not even tick the appropriate boxes.
“And in spiritual matters, these are the fellows who seek membership in the synod just for the sake of church lands.
“As for our daughter daring to bare underwear while dressed in such well branded clothing designed for a dignified graduation in broad daylight (assuming the photo is not the result of computer abuse), I hope so that we won’t pass them on street corners next week, their vile habits will take it a step further.”
As Laker and her classmates enter elementary education, we, the parents, teachers and other caregivers, have an enormous responsibility to ensure that we provide them with the skills that, as Principal Eva Ekanya has called for, will lead them to be responsible citizens to become self-sustaining and to contribute to the progress of society. But if we don’t do that effectively, then we’ve been celebrating hard work in a kindergarten while adults at university end up forging their final grades.
The author is a Founding Director of Vicnam International Communications Ltd, a privately owned communications, public relations and information management consultancy. He specializes in proofreading and general editing (PAGE) of documents and can be contacted on Tel: (+256)752-649519 and email at [email protected].