Reviews & Profiles
Dr Betty Ezati: The first female dean at the School of Education
Posted Monday, October 14 2013 at 00:00
When she was still a little girl, trekking long distances to get to school, Betty Ezati did not envision then, that she would become the dean of a school. The woman who despite her busy schedule puts her family first, talks about her plans for the school of education.
The first time I speak to Dr Betty Ezati is over the phone and in my mind, I envisage a mature lady seated in an office filled with so many books. However, when I finally get to enter her office hours after the phone call, I am surprised.
The middle aged first female Dean of the school of Education at Makerere University looks way younger than her age. With a simple smile, she welcomes us into her modestly furnished office with not as many books as I had anticipated, and offers us seats. We immediately get down to business.
A mother of four, with the oldest at university and the youngest in Senior Three, Dr Ezati, has been the Dean of the School of Education for two months now. Looking back, it is a long way from the time she was a little girl, trekking long distances from her home in Gulu to Layibi Primary School and she is no doubt proud of her achievement.
“When I joined as a teaching assistant, I did not envisage that I would become a dean. But as you go on, some of these things become clear that maybe you will get there. I take one day at a time and I always want to keep a low profile.”
The reserved senior lecturer adds that after primary school, she joined Sacred Heart Girls School from Senior One to Senior Six and then joined Makerere University. She also went to the University of Alberta, Canada for a higher diploma in education policy studies and back to Makerere for a Masters of Education focusing on teacher education, and a PhD in gender issues in higher education. She also went to Lund University in Sweden.
She explains that despite all these qualifications, she was contented with remaining in teaching and not joining management. “I have always rejected the idea of moving up. I thought this would affect my concentration on my children. I have always felt that leadership positions are more demanding than when you are just teaching. You need to be in office early and also attend to people.”
She adds, “This means that at times you have to get home late and my concern was that I would not want to get into any leadership position before my children go to boarding school which according to my standards is in secondary school because I do not believe in taking children to boarding school while still in primary. I think by then they are still young.”
Fortunately, after all four of her children were past primary level, her efficiency earned her the trust of her colleagues who later nominated her for the position of dean.
The senior lecturer recounts, “When many colleagues came to contact me to contest for deanship, I was humbled because it says a lot about what people think about you. It indicates that there is something positive they see about me. So I accepted.”
She explains that the process of becoming a dean entails that whoever wants to fill this position shows their intention so that they get people to nominate them. In cases where there are many people that have been nominated, elections will always be arranged and whoever has more votes becomes the new dean.
“However in my case, I went through unopposed. I had so many people coming to nominate me,” she says.
She indicates that some of the people who approached her said they knew she would manage. “Before I became a dean, I was the coordinator of school practice which is a core course for all students of education and so I coordinated it for five years and some people actually did mention that I handled it well which is why they thought I would handle the position of a dean very well.”
Although she received her appointment letter on August 1, 2013 indicating that she was to serve for four years, Dr Ezati learnt of her accomplishment in May. “I was humbled because many people had come out to contact me to stand for the position.” She adds, “My husband did not mind and he was very positive about my progress. He is extremely supportive. My children also know about my achievement and they are very happy.”
Dr Ezati explains that her new job entails much more than signing papers. “I am supposed to provide leadership to the school, coordinate and manage academic programmes, promote knowledge of the discipline and initiate linkages with other institutions of higher learning. I have to oversee teaching and promote research and community service and I am responsible for examination among others.”
Additionally, as a teacher, she still has to go to class and teach. “So I have to come in early so that I plan and by the time I begin to interact with people, I am prepared, especially for my class. “In the midst of all this, I do not have to worry that my children are missing out on my attention since the youngest child is now in boarding school. I can even stay in office up to 6pm unlike before.”