By Frank Asiimwe
The recent statement by President Museveni to boost salaries for Science teachers, has raised a lot of unnecessary hullabaloo from politicians and arts-focused groups.
Uganda is one of the richest countries in the world. Apart from our massive agricultural potential, the country is endowed with a lot of minerals, like copper and Cobalt in Kasese sub region, tin and columbite in Ankole-Kigezi area, Limestone and Marble in Kamwenge, gold in Karamoja Districts, Oil in the Albertine Region. The list is endless. All these require scientists to be exploited to the fullest.
We need to utilise science to restructure the economy so as to benefit the majority of our population. We need more home grown engineers to construct our roads. We need to add value to our agricultural products. We need more and better qualified doctors to run our hospitals etc.
There is no single country the world over that has ever developed relying solely on arts oriented specialists. All the first world countries like USA, Great Britain, Germany, France, Japan, China, to name but a few, that we admire today embraced science and technology long ago. This has positively impacted on their economies.
Just 30 years ago China was virtually insignificant. But today, China is competing with America. Why? It is because of its deliberate emphasis on science and technology. After realizing that they needed science to kick-start their economy, they motivated their science teachers. They also encouraged their youths to study sciences abroad, in America, Great Britain etc. No wonder they dominate the leadership and expertise in science.
I have heard opposition MPs and some NRM populist MPs like Hon Mbwatekamwa wondering why M7 should emphasise sciences when he is not a scientist. Mao Tse Tung, Lee Kuan Yew, and other leaders of the Asian Tiger countries who propelled their countries to develop economically were not necessarily scientists. They simply knew the importance of science and emphasised it and prioritised it over other matters.
It’s regrettable that some misconceived and gullible Ugandans are failing to envisage where Uganda will be as per the Vision 2040.
It should be clarified that M7 did not say salaries of arts teachers should not be enhanced. He said Government was committed to raising the pay for all civil servants but priority should be given to science teachers as they are very critical in propelling development and transformation of our society.
Banyankore have a saying that goes; “akati keinukwa kakiri kabisi…” literary meaning a tree is bendable only when it is still budding. In my opinion, Uganda and Africa as a whole will never progress if science and technology is not deliberately emphasised right from primary school up to higher institutions of learning.
In a nutshell, we cannot create a center of power and gravity in Africa without emphasising science and technology. Economic transformation would remain a mere pipe dream.
If we do not sacrifice for a better change as per government policy, we are likely to remain subservient to the west and other developed countries.
The author is the NRM spokesperson for Rubaga division.