Ed­u­ca­tion and health omit­ted in State of Na­tion Ad­dress

By: Parliament Reporter

Ar­ti­cle 101 (1) of the Con­sti­tu­tion of the Re­pub­lic of Uganda man­dates the Pres­i­dent to de­liver a State of the Na­tion Ad­dress to Par­lia­ment at the be­gin­ning of each ses­sion. The essence of the ad­dress is to en­able the Head of State to ac­count for the re­sources that were ap­proved by Par­lia­ment in the pre­ced­ing fi­nan­cial and pre­sent pro­grams for the next 12 months. In the rare event that, it is a Pres­i­den­t’s first year of term of of­fice, s/​he is obliged to ap­prise Par­lia­ment and the en­tire na­tion on planned pro­grams for the coun­try.

In light of the above, on 31st May 2016, H.E Yow­eri Mu­sev­eni, now serv­ing his 7th term ad­dressed the newly elected 10th Par­lia­ment in its first ever State of the Na­tion Ad­dress.  He made com­mit­ments to the coun­try in­clud­ing but not lim­ited to; de­clar­ing full scale war on cor­rup­tion, in­creas­ing ex­ports as op­posed to the sta­tus quo through in­creased agri­cul­tural pro­duc­tion and es­tab­lish­ment of in­dus­tries, pro­vid­ing low in­ter­est loans by re­cap­i­tal­iz­ing Uganda De­vel­op­ment Bank, he also took pride in the huge trans­port and power pro­jects that the coun­try had since com­mis­sioned.

The Pres­i­dent also dwelt much on the De­vel­op­ment 300MW of elec­tric­ity from geo-ther­mal po­ten­tial in the Katwe area of the Rwen­zori re­gion, re­fi­nanc­ing the Bu­ja­gali Hy­dro-Power pro­ject to re­duce the US$ 10.1 cents cost per unit, con­struc­tion of the stan­dard gauge rail­way and re­pair­ing of Kilembe mines. He also talked about sourc­ing in­vestors for a steel in­dus­try us­ing the Ka­nungu-Ka­bale iron ore, the Sukuru Fer­til­izer, steel and sul­phuric acid plants hills near Tororo, es­tab­lish­ment of a gold re­fin­ery and build­ing a 60,000 bar­rel per day oil re­fin­ery to be ex­panded to 120,000 bar­rels per day.

It goes with­out say­ing that most of the com­mit­ments in the ad­dress re­quire Hu­man Cap­i­tal, one that is both skilled and healthy. How­ever, through­out the ad­dress to my dis­may, ed­u­ca­tion, health, wa­ter and en­vi­ron­ment was nei­ther top­i­cal nor did­n’t re­ceive more than 4(four) men­tions. And this can­not be at­trib­uted to the fact these sec­tors were per­form­ing sat­is­fac­to­rily. For in­stance, the coun­try re­cently ex­pe­ri­enced the break­down of the coun­try’s only ra­dio­ther­apy ma­chine with no im­me­di­ate so­lu­tion for can­cer pa­tients.

The pres­i­dent strongly noted with con­cern what he called do­nat­ing to for­eign coun­tries a sum of US$ 3.418bn in form of im­ported goods against the ex­port earn­ings of US$ 607m. What he omit­ted are the ser­vices im­ported on a daily. Most of the big in­fra­struc­ture pro­jects more­over with bor­rowed money like Isimba, Karuma, road con­struc­tions are be­ing manned by for­eign a work force due to the lim­ited skills Ugan­dans have. Sadly, skilled labour is im­pos­si­ble only 3 of the 10 stu­dents en­rolled for Uni­ver­sal Sec­ondary Ed­u­ca­tion and Uni­ver­sal Pri­mary Ed­u­ca­tion sur­vive till Se­nior 4 and Pri­mary 7 re­spec­tively.

As the out­go­ing Head of State, it would have suf­ficed if he ac­counted to the coun­try the ills that plague both the health and ed­u­ca­tion sec­tor and the pos­si­ble so­lu­tions he and his gov­ern­ment had de­vised over the time. The ad­dress was also char­ac­terised by rep­e­ti­tions, in­con­sis­ten­cies and un­fished work from the pre­vi­ous ad­dress and not so much on the progress of on­go­ing pro­jects. For ex­am­ple, re­cap­i­tal­i­sa­tion the Uganda De­vel­op­ment Bank which the Pres­i­dent said will be re­ceiv­ing Ugx 500bn in FY2015/​16 was also hinted on.

The Pres­i­den­t’s vi­sion for the coun­try is to be a mid­dle in­come coun­try in the short­est time pos­si­ble, em­pha­sis ought to be put on the ed­u­ca­tion and health sec­tors, as these com­ple­ment other sec­tors pre­req­ui­site for the in­tended de­vel­op­ment. There­fore, the Head of State ought to have in­formed the na­tion on the state of all sec­tors and not only the ones he deemed fit for de­vel­op­ment.