BY PPU REPORTER
President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni has urged educators to help Ugandans understand nature and its natural laws to solve problems in the society.
He also appealed to the education managers in Uganda to be clear on their historical role, that is, imparting knowledge.
“Modern education in my view, especially the higher one, is about two things; number one is understanding nature and understanding its natural laws. So, you should be very clear because sometimes the mystification of knowledge can confuse people who are learning from you. You should make people understand nature and its natural laws and how they can be used in solving problems or even create problems because some people use natural laws to create problems for the society,”
The President made the remarks while officiating at the 20th Anniversary celebrations of the National Council for Higher Education (NCHE) at Kololo Independence Grounds. The celebrations ran under the theme: “20 years of the National Council for Higher Education; Transforming Higher Education in Uganda”.
President Museveni informed the Education experts that they have a duty to fulfil to ensure that people stop believing in witchcraft and superstition and believe more in natural science because it is very crucial in solving societal problems.
“Natural science is everywhere; like when you put bananas in the ground to ripen, it is those bacteria that ripen those bananas, but our people think it is warmth that makes them ripe. But why do bananas get ripe even when they are on a tree? So that is the disconnection among African people and others. For instance, in the Middle Ages, people in Europe were believing in superstition but for them they have moved on, but your people here are stuck in that non-science way of life and I don't know how you are assessing that because I find this a very big problem to have a society that is still superstition oriented. On the side of social science, how are you going to handle that because this is part of enlightenment? How can you enlighten society; a society that believes in science?” he inquired, before congratulating the NCHE upon celebrating 20 years of service.
President Museveni further advised that a country like Uganda should embrace the biotechnology law so that they can use it to defend themselves against any form of misuse by bad elements.
"There's also another danger of some people who say, in science there's no God, no! Because here I'm talking about you understanding the natural laws but who created those natural laws? This is where I don't agree with these universities which say in science there's no God. You talk of gravity but who created it? But that is another issue, the atheist, the scientists, and those who believe in God, we can handle. The first problem we have is having a society which is disconnected with natural science and is stuck in superstition," the President noted.
“In my view, the challenge of education we have in a society like this, are those two. On the side of science, it is understanding that science is essentially about nature and its laws and how they can be used positively or negatively because for instance now when we are talking about biotechnology, it can be used to do good things, but it can also be used to discover a germ which can kill only Africans because of their genetic makeup and not other people. We need to adopt the biotechnology law so that we can study it to use it but also to defend ourselves against the misuse. It is not good to stay away from biotechnology because other people will use it both positively and negatively against us and we shall not be able to defend ourselves,” he added.
On the issue of limited human resources to promote science in government institutions, President Museveni pledged that the government would offer all the necessary support to realise the goal.
“Regarding the challenges, we are going to study them, and we shall respond,” he stated.
“On the issue of salary, I support the scientists in government Universities to be paid well, it is not that we are against the other professionals, but we must start with these ones because we need them now,” he added.
The First Lady and Minister of Education and Sports, Maama Janet Museveni applauded her predecessors under the National Resistance Movement (NRM) government for creatively shaping the role of regulation of Higher Education in the country.
“All these people who have come before the current generation of leaders in the sector have played a key role in birthing and nurturing this youthful institution called NCHE,” Maama Janet said.
The Minister also noted that as they celebrate the 20 years of NCHE’s existence, they are also taking stock of the leaps that the Higher Education sub-sector has grown.
“The quantitative increase from 67 higher education institutions 20 years ago to 265 right now is a testament that the government has created an environment that fosters growth. This shows that NCHE’s work has increased four-fold to monitor and authorize many higher education institutions to operate,” she revealed.
The Chairperson of NCHE, Prof. Eli Katunguka thanked the council team for the job well done over the years, saying that they have shown that they are a formidable team.
The event was also attended by ministers, Members of Parliament, Education sector stakeholders, among others.