This year, yet another innovative way of pushing Uganda towards Vision 2040 was birthed.
The Cabinet presented the Parish Development Model (PDM) that will see 39 million households spring from subsistence economy to commercial production.
Premised on seven pillars, production, storage, processing, and marketing, infrastructure and economic services, financial inclusion, social services, parish-based management information system, governance and administration, and mindset change, the PDM started at the beginning of the FY 2021/2022.
A review of the National Development Plan II necessitated a change in the development approach. As such, NDP III outlines five objectives and 16 development strategies, to be implemented by the various MDAs and Local Governments.
Of scrutiny is development programme 10: Community Mobilisation and mindset change, under objective four of NDP III which was later translated into pillar seven of the PDM.
As stated in the PDM guidelines, the pillar of mindset change is not clear on its purpose and yet clarity affords focus. The goal of the pillar is to adopt the right way of thinking, opinions of public sector officials at all levels, private sector players, and communities.
However, the objectives are mainly targeted towards the communities and public sector officials are not included although mentioned as one of the target groups. A lot of emphasis is also placed on community mobilization.
It is important to note that among the challenges identified in the evaluation of the NDPII were weak accountability results in the public service and corruption.
On the part of communities, the flawed mindset is evident in the dependency syndrome, the ‘what is in it for me’ syndrome’, the weak sense of responsibility or ownership, commission culture(kitukidogo’, the attitude towards poverty alleviation programmes being viewed as tokens of appreciation from the leadership after a successful election, low productivity, poor time management, poor working culture, the lack of value for work, low innovation and entrepreneurship.
In addition to this is the fact that citizens do not believe they are part of the government, as such, they always call for government intervention with the famous slogan, ‘gavumenti etuyambe’ and eliminate themselves from the equation.
Two countries come to mind when we talk about a change of mindset; Singapore which was then led by Yew Kuan Lee and he fronted the change of mindset mainly using education.
He once stated that as a country they could not be thinking of moving from the third world to the first world and expect to maintain a third world mindset.
In South Korea, in the 1970s the Saemual Undong initiative was used and focused on community-driven development that fostered mindset change, self-help, volunteerism, diligence, and cooperation.
We should however not overlook the fact the change of mindsets is not a one-off but a gradual yet deliberate process. Firstly, the work ethic of public servants needs to be addressed.
The Ministry of Public Service needs to carry out sensitization drives to deal with the issue of corruption amongst public servants and engrain within them the culture of service so that whatever they do in the communities is a matter of their job description and to build the community.
There is a need for the Ministry of Local Government as well as the Ministry of Gender Labour and Social Development to build strategic stakeholder engagements that influence opinions, attitudes, and knowledge.
Opinion leaders, cultural, vulnerable groups and religious leaders should not be left out in the sensitization because they can easily influence communities. Paulo Freire opines that there’s no such thing as neutral education. Education either functions as an instrument to bring about conformity or freedom.
Ministry of Education and Sports needs to refocus on the country’s education so that the right attitude to work and work ethics are instilled in the younger generation.
Lastly, the Ministry of Local Government should in the first place deal with mindset changes before the actual implementation of the model.
People in local governments and communities must change their attitudes towards work to transform their communities.
In addition to this, is the inclusion of the communities so that they are not treated as mere objects of this change but should be actively involved in the planning and implementation process for this perceived change to happen.
Ms Rebecca Nalwoga Mukwaya is a researcher at Advocates Coalition for Development and Environment.