Hon. Birija Steven former Chairman Masindi District and an eloquent political analyst. File Photo (Author)
There is no doubt, schooling and academic achievement are important, and there is no denying that fact, but it is not necessarily the complete story in the real sense of education.
While it is true that, in most cases, the more schooling you receive and academic achievements one makes, the more successful you will be in your chosen path; and generally, people who drop out school or receive minimal academic achievement are probably headed toward a long, torturing career, riding Boda Bodas, working in warehouses, and living in brothels or being confined suburbs or to rural joints. It should be noted that, that is just the common perception, at least, but is not necessarily true.
First of all, to act of educationally is to act on the basis of an ethical code. Therefore, no educated person can start displaying somebody’s personal academic documents on the social media. This automatically qualifies you into the realms of heartless beasts.
Secondly, speaking as a teacher, ladies and gentlemen, and standing the risk of sounding patronising or too clever, Educational action should be understood as practice (praxis), not just papers or academic achievements. Educational action should more appropriately be understood as a form of human practice or praxis, a term derived from Aristotelian philosophy-being ethical. What Ugandans need now are leaders and citizens who are good citizens in the sense that they are ethically informed in social practices, with some understanding of individual good and the good society to be given practical expression.
Politics is about phronesis. It should be pro-people – practiced and perfected by passionate patriots who produce in public interest. Therefore, to be educated is to act on the basis of ethical code. The leaders we need and, overall, the citizens, whether it is Hon, Zaake, Kyagulanyi, Dr Besigye, Muntu or Museveni, should have the understanding and or have the disposition to act in accordance with a tacit understanding of what makes up a good society or the promotion of progressing pro-people value systems.
Political Practice and participation understood by people education leaders are termed phronesis, which as come to be known as practical wisdom. Whether you think Hon. Zaake lacks it just because he failed his Ordinary level exams that are entirely your problem. However, what is clear is that, practical wisdom cannot be learned in theory and then applied in practice because the context is imbued with historically inherited traditions, as education through action.
These tacit features of a practice context mean that practical wisdom can only be acquired by practitioners who, in seeking to achieve the standards of excellence inherit their practice, develop the capacity to make wise and prudent judgements about what, in a particular situation, would constitute an appropriate expression of the common good, now called politics.
In summary, you may have your sparkling academic grades, yes, but far from you grades, education practice is a form of praxis. This means that, education practice is a political action aimed at reaching the view of the good society to which the educational practitioner is tacitly committed. And as far as I can see, in this generation, no one beats Hon, Kyagulanyi, and now his vice Hon. Zaake, whom, according to you are academic failures.
Against this background, you cannot claim to be educated or academically excellent when you still carry a slave mentality, or treat human abuse and exploitation as normal. It is even worse when you don’t believe in yourself. In life, Gorge Hegel (1770-1831) once said, those who are salve feel their existence depends on something external. I don’t think Hon. Zaake and Kyagulanyi think like that. Yet many of our people laughing at Hon. Zaake’s poor academic performance, still don’t trust their own existence on their own abilities
Many Uganda today, especially those who claim academic excellence, have chosen to live under slavery. Typical of mediocrity, they have never fully understood why they went to school. You see it clearly in them that, when their two spirits or consciousness meet, they battle for recognition. The spirit that prefers LIBERTY to LIFE becomes the Master, while the spirit that prefers LIFE to LIBERTY becomes the slave.
Such, so called high academic achievers, have officially affirmed the Master’s consciousness by accepting to be slaves in their own country; they have discovered their consciousness through working for the master in the material gaining and tangible external world in the spirit of survival. They all foolishly feel that their self – existence does not depend on the intellectual abilities within themselves, but something external-possibly Kaguta like. In this case how can you be better than Hon. Zaake, just because you passed academic exams only to accept Master-Slave mentality?
Lastly, if you want me to take you to the practical world, just take a simple study of the profile of 10 poorly educated, but the most influential people in the world so far. For example:
The man who called Uganda the Pearl of Africa did very poorly in school, he feared academic work, but rose to become the finest Prime Minister UK has ever hard. In December 1999 a BBC Radio 4 poll of 20 prominent historians, politicians and commentators for The Westminster Hour produced the verdict that Churchill was the best British prime minister of the 20th century, with Lloyd George in second place and Clement Attlee in third place. As Blair was still in office he was not ranked. The worst prime minister in that survey was judged to be Anthony Eden (Wikipedia).
Churchill is one of the most outstanding political figures of the twentieth century. He was famous for wit and, frankly, a quote machine. He was born into aristocracy, and privilege family, which makes it not of any surprise that he rose through the ranks to eventually lead the United Kingdom to victory during World War II. But, what probably does come as a surprise should be the fact that, he achieved this with a limited academic achievement. And initially had speech problems.
Churchill, having come from such a good family, was given access to the best education available. But, that didn’t mean he was any good at it, of course. He found the academic world very difficult and did very poorly in school, often being punished for his dismal academic record. His military service was also hindered by his poor performance. He had to apply three times to the Royal Military College, and was only accepted after applying for the cavalry rather than infantry because the grade requirements were lower and it didn’t involve math (Wikipedia). Yet he went on to become the finest Prime Minister the United Kingdom has ever hard.
While, Anthony Eden, who went to Eton University, and even won a prize in Divinity, from this, one of the finest universities in UK; and meant for UK’s future leaders, is the worst Prime Minister, as per the 1999 polls. Eton University is not for academic dwarfs remember. At the University, Anthony, excelled in languages and public speaking, he even spoke French better than English, he spoke German and Chinese and being well-spoken, he served a foreign secretary for long. Britain relayed on him to speak to Hitler, the French President and Chinese Prime Minister between 1939-45. And in between 1945 to 1973 he was a chancellor of the University of Birmingham-one of the top universities in the world- the Russell Group Universities. Yet, he went on to become the worst Prime Minister UK has ever produced! The rest is history.
What Uganda needs are enterprising people like Abraham Lincoln, Henry Ford, Steve Jobs, William Shakespeare, Rockefeller, Mark Twain, the Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg and Winston Churchill, who are not only patriots, enterprising, but fully understanding the challenges of the people they serve. That is the true mark of education, not elitist academic arrogance.
There is little doubt that Winston Churchill was a political figure of enormous influence and importance. His record, both before 1939 and after 1945, might have not been very brilliant, and for the most part undistinguished, but as, one Anthony Storr writes: “In 1940 Churchill became the hero that he had always dreamed of being. In that dark time, what England needed was not a shrewd, equable, balanced leader. The country actually needed a prophet, a heroic visionary, a man who could dream dreams of victory when all seemed lost. Winston Churchill was such a man”(Wikipedia).
ALBERT EINSTEIN: A man who struggled in school, failed several exams, but is the greatest scientist of the 20th century, ABRAHAM LINCOLN, the most influential US PRESIDENT, was academically poor and even never got formal education, Henry Ford : an industrialist and entrepreneur, no academic excellence. John D. Rockefeller is Billionaire had no good education; Horace Greeley : one of the greatest US Journalist, Congressman and founder of the Republican Party had no formal education at all.
Astronaut John Glenn, who conducted space exploration between 1950s and 1960s, becoming a war hero and one of the most famous astronauts in history, was a college dropout. Glenn attended Muskingum College, where he studied science, but when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbour he dropped out in order to fight in World War II. Steve Jobs, Apple C-Founder, one of the greatest thinkers of the twentieth and early 21st centuries created the first personal computer, iPod, iPhone, and ipad but only attended college for six month.
Mark Twain , an author and a man of wit never went to school at all, is arguably the most beloved American writer and humorist in history, Mark Twain gained fame after creating the classic characters of Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn.
William Shakespeare, a playwright and poet who is one of the most famous names in history. William Shakespeare produced some of the best-loved works the world has ever known, from Romeo and Juliet to Macbeth. But not much is known about Shakespeare’s early life; in fact, there are not even any records that suggest he ever received much by way of a formal education.
Scholars have suggested that he may have attended the King’s New School, but they also believe—based on some of his writings—that he did not attend school past the age of thirteen. It’s pretty astonishing that a man credited with inventing more than 1700 words was, by all accounts, a middle school dropout.
Lastly, Amin rule Uganda for 9 years, Obote dropped out of the University, but Museveni is a graduate of Political science and Economics, has he done better than Amin or Dr Obote?
Or to put it the other way round, have you ever seen President Museveni academic credential since primary? He even failed to gain entry to makerere University on weak academic grounds. But he has done some of the most astounding things.
So, to imagine that because Hon. Zaake failed his O level exams you dismiss him as a as a person who cannot lead the country, could be a bit a misunderstanding of the value of education. In fact, you may not be in the know of the hidden values of education.