Arts teachers declare ‘war’

Author: Phillip Matogo. PHOTO/FILE

What you need to know:

  • By the teachers coming out to reveal their plans, they’re readying their opponent to respond.

The secretary general of Uganda National Teachers’ Union (Unatu), Mr Filbert Baguma, said during the week that Arts subjects educators are still at cross purposes with government over failure to give them a pay raise. He said a line was drawn in the sand and soon, the teachers would even the score.

According to Baguma, teachers were forced to go back to class after a series of meetings with President Museveni and Vice President Jessica Alupo, which did not yield any tangible gains in the direction of their demands.

He, however, said teachers hold the cards and will deal them during the most crucial time of the academic year: the Uganda National Examinations Board (Uneb) exams.

“We shall have so many things at play next term, including and not limited to, refusal to mark Uneb examinations this year. You will, of course, find them (teachers) in classes but government will understand it better when it comes to Uneb results next year. Arts teachers are pretending to be in school – that is what government wants – but there’s no learning because teachers are not committed,” Baguma said.

This strategy is a clever one as the teachers realise that politics is a head game, so the person who devises the best plan to overwhelm a political opponent, wins. 

Again, this strategy is in line with the second principle of Sun Tzu’s The Art of War and its application in military situations. 

Sure, this is not a military situation in the strictest sense. However, it is a war. A war to improve lives. 
As Sun Tzu advised, teachers have avoided their opponent’s strength by choosing to strike their opponent’s weakness. This is described as the art of fighting without fighting. To call another sit-down strike may be construed as fighting. 

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By the teachers choosing to strike when the ‘enemy’ is weakest, they may win this war without even fighting.

According to The Art of War, attacking the opponent’s weak points is a much more effective and an efficient use of one’s resources; it shortens the road to victory and increases the value of the victory. 
“To win one hundred victories in one hundred battles is not the acme of skill. To subdue the enemy without fighting is the acme of skill. So in war, the way is to avoid what is strong, and strike at what is weak,” wrote Sun Tzu.

My only problem with Baguma announcing this plan is that he violates another principle of Sun Tzu’s: “Let your plans be dark and impenetrable as night, and when you move, fall like a thunderbolt.”

By the teachers coming out to reveal their plans, they’re readying their opponent to respond. Now, Mr Museveni’s government will simply use the teachers’ plans against them. 
Museveni may now invoke the principle, “Victorious warriors win first and then go to war, while defeated warriors go to war first and then seek to win.”

That’s because the Arts teachers have actually declared war and shown their battle plans to their opponent. 

This is a win for government, so they shall make short work of the teachers when they go to war. 
That is unless the teachers employ this warning as a decoy, diverting their opponents away from their true designs. 

“All warfare is based on deception. Hence, when we are near, we must make the enemy believe we are far away; when far away, we must make him believe we are near.”

If this is indeed their secret plan, the sleight-of-hand, if successful, may serve as a blueprint on how to defeat NRM government.

Mr Phillip Matogo is a professional copywriter  
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