Failing Institutions

Of failing Institutions in East Africa

Honourable Raila Odinga, a renowned Kenyan politician is said to have once said that what Africa needs to develop are three things; “infrastructure, infrastructure, and infrastructure.”

Infrastructure may be interpreted as the stock of basic facilities and capital equipment needed for the functioning of a country or area, for example, the industrial infrastructure of Uganda, or Kenya, or South Africa, or Japan. Those facilities and equipment are developed and/or created by individuals who have dedicated their time to acquiring the most essential knowledge needed to do so.

A successful acquisition of aforesaid knowledge is the foundation upon which institutions like Uganda Revenue Authority, which is mandated with the assessment and collection of specified revenue and to administer and enforce the laws relating to such revenue. Another institution that would benefit from such knowledge is the Uganda National Roads Authority whose purpose is maintenance of the national roads network in a more efficient and effective manner. (Both descriptions are derived from the preambles of their respective enabling Acts).

However much both are technical, the former is more of a “theoretical” whereas the latter is somewhat more of a “practical” institution. For them to be efficient and successful at what they do, they need to employ teams of people with the necessary knowledge and experience.

An equally important institution is that of the banking industry, one whose core responsibility is, to borrow from those of the Central Bank, the Bank of Uganda, to encourage and promote economic development and the efficient utilisation of the resources of Uganda through efficient operation of a banking and credit system.

Unfortunately, the Uganda Revenue Authority, the Uganda National Roads Authority and the banking industry, all important institutions for the growth of the Ugandan economy, have had enough scandals and/or challenges which have shaken their foundations and brought some of them to their knees.

Worse, the most important of them all, the one which informs these institutions is as good as fallen, without any hope of recovery. It is that of education, as represented by the incessantly troubled Makerere University. The University has, in following a Presidential directive, had to close and send all its students home and to leave nothing but dilapidated buildings and a name which both await the findings of a committee that has been selected to study the mismanagement of the University.

The essence of an active, functioning, complete education system is to, amongst others, prepare professionals who will develop the very policies that some of the mentioned institutions will apply and/or enforce. Any inconsistency, by breakages in continuity, will, inadvertently, affect the continuity, the efficiency, and success of the benefiting institutions.

The halt not only affects the students and their parents directly as they lose time and resources respectively, but it indirectly deprives the benefiting institution a pool from which to pick and choose the best candidates to take up any available placements.

Legally speaking, it is a breach of the Constitution. The Constitution of the Republic of Uganda provides, in Objective XIV (b) that the State shall endeavour to fulfil the fundamental rights of all Ugandans to social justice and economic development and shall, in particular, ensure that all Ugandans enjoy rights and opportunities and access to education, health services, clean and safe water work, decent shelter, adequate clothing, food security, and pension and retirement benefits.

Objective XVIII (ii) is to the effect that the State shall take appropriate measures to afford every citizen equal opportunity to attain the highest educational standard possible. Not so different from this provision is Article 30 which provides that all persons have a right to education.

Without delving deeper into specific legislation, it is quite evident that our mismanagement of the pinnacle of our education system is a violation of students’ rights, a breach of the law and, consequently, a hindrance to the continuity and functioning of the benefiting institutions. It is also worth note that we will not graduate from our idealized primitivism if we are not multiplying opportunities to learn how to read and write and cultivating a more subjective consciousness.


This article appears in our weekly digital law magazine, The Deuteronomy Vol 8, Issue 4 of November 25th, 2016

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