Monday August 25 2014

Source local solutions to Ugandan problems

There’s a popular quote: “If you want something done, do it yourself; otherwise, it will never get done.”

That’s how development should be managed. Sustainable development is about building local capacity so that development can come from within a country and not just through foreign donors, NGOs and aid agencies. As the World Bank’s social development specialist, Michael Woolcock, advocates, development should be directed by locals who can nominate and prioritise problems to craft local solutions.

Of course, Uganda has many excellent homegrown initiatives, organisations and leaders contributing to the country’s development, but we need to see more. Ugandans should be empowered and equipped to take the lead in the country’s development.
Education is widely considered fundamental to self-empowerment and development so much so that the United Nations has created Education for All Goals to buffer the MDGs and post-2015 Sustainable Development Goals, which also aim to increase education globally. If education is so fundamental to development, how can we afford not to focus on education around development, namely Development Studies?

This is against President Museveni’s recent remarks that Development Studies can simply be taught as papers under other courses.
The President suggested science education be prioritised in Uganda to ensure a population with “solutions to many of the country’s challenges,” which he said Arts courses, including Development Studies, do not provide. He described such courses as “useless” at the launch of a Ndejje University laboratory on August 15.

As Uganda sits 164th out of 187 countries on the United Nation’s Human Development Index, it is sad to hear that our President considers Ugandans learning about development issues and strategies “useless” and, at best, secondary to sciences.

Developing Uganda will take scientists, doctors, and engineers, but it will also require local development experts with sustainable solutions to local issues. Who better to enrol in Development Studies than people in developing countries? Who better to develop Uganda than the large youth population, making up 78 per cent of Ugandans, according to the UN, all with the potential to become future leaders?

Let’s encourage these youths to become leaders in all fields, including Development Studies. Building a bright and prosperous future for Uganda will take dedication from people across disciplines.
Mr President, start valuing Development Studies if you wants to see this country develop in its own right.