Kadaga defends First Lady

Friday February 21 2020

Session. The Minister of Education and Sports,

Session. The Minister of Education and Sports, Ms Janet Museveni (left), and Speaker Rebecca Kadaga (Right) during the plenary session at Parliament yesterday. PHOTO BY DAVID LUBOWA 

By Damali Mukhaye, Moses Kyeyune & Misairi Thembo Kahungu

The Speaker of Parliament yesterday shielded Education minister Janet Museveni from answering members questions on the preparedness of her ministry before rolling out the revised lower secondary school curriculum.
Ms Museveni was also expected to explain why she defied Parliament’s resolution to halt implementation of the new curriculum.
The Speaker had on Tuesday issued fresh summons to the Education Minister and warned that the answers must be produced or else Parliament would apply its powers. The caution came after the Education minister failed to show up as required in previous summons.
But when she finally showed up on the floor yesterday, Ms Kadaga defended the minister.
As soon as the minister started presenting her statement in the House, Kira Municipality MP Ibrahim Ssemujju Nganda (FDC), raised a procedural matter, inquiring why the minister was giving explanation on the curriculum instead of answering to the directive of the House on why her ministry defied Parliament.
Ms Kadaga overruled Mr Ssemuju and guided that it would be unfair to stop the minister from presenting her statement because no one knew its contents.
The minister took members through the background of a curriculum she says fits the 21st century skills, its benefits to the learners, preparedness of the her ministry, schools and teachers.
“The existing curriculum doesn’t include the key 21st century skills. The old curriculum didn’t teach learners how to think and be self-directed learners and didn’t allow them to apply knowledge and skills effectively to known and difficult situations. This [new] curriculum, is now result-oriented and outcome-based. Young people need to be able to think critically and solve problems,” Ms Museveni said. Explaining why government didn’t wait for the House resolution, she said it was because Cabinet as a policy-making body of government guided that they should not hold the rollout of the curriculum.
Prime Minister Ruhakana Rugunda yesterday confirmed her narrative and said: “The minister [Janet] reported to Cabinet that she had prepared her ministry to roll out the curriculum. Cabinet was convicted and therefore asked the minister to come and explain to Parliament.”
Opposition members led by Shadow Education minister Mathias Mpuuga (Masaka Municipality, DP) and Opposition chief whip Ssemuju, still maintained that the minister’s statement was lacking and asked the Speaker to reject it. They argued that the minister’s statement was not answering the bipartisan questions that led to the resolution of Parliament.
“This statement fell short of going into the nitty-gritty of why we as Parliament needed to halt the curriculum,” Mr Mpuuga said.
Mr Mpuuga also reminded NRM MPs, who were shouting in approval of the ministers statement that “Cabinet as a policy-making organ and Parliament are not in a competition.”
Mr Ssemujju told the House that the minister did not in her statement explain her defiance.
“What happens to the decisions we made as Parliament. Ms Museveni should explain why she defied us,” Mr Ssemujju said.
“This content was presented by the State minister of Primary Education and Parliament took a decision to halt the curriculum. The decision we made was for Ms Museveni to come here to explain the steps the Ministry has taken to implement the curriculum not regurgitating (repeating) what was said already,” he said.
Ms Kadaga would then tell the MPs, especially Opposition members, that whatever they wanted was captured in the minister’s statement.
“When Mr [Michael] Mawanda raised this matter [on February 4], he wanted to know what procedures the Ministry of Education is using to roll out the curriculum. This is what the minister has answered,” Ms Kadaga said.
When the member turned rowdy, raising points of procedure, points of order, Ms Kadaga, who had earlier met President Museveni at State House, reminded members that Parliament was not a market and that the issues members were raising had clearly been covered by the Minister’s in her statement.
Ms Rosemary Seninde, the minister of State for Primary Education, then took to the floor.
“The minister has clearly explained in her statement. I don’t know why Mr Ssemujju and other MPs are raising issues of defiance,” Ms Seninde said.
Yesterday, Ms Kadaga was summoned by President to State House, Entebbe ahead of the House’s interface with Education minister, who is also the First Lady, over curriculum matters.
Ms Kadaga’s Private Press Secretary, Mr Sam Obbo, confirmed the State House meeting but declined to elaborate.
After presenting her statement, Ms Museveni took her seat and said nothing more until the Clerk called another item on the Order Paper.