Uganda maintains the same Corruption Perception Index (CPI) Spot! What Uganda designs and what she reaps!  

CPI j
Photo credit: Anti Corruption Coalition Uganda

Over the last two weeks, I interested myself in reading some of the best research papers, approaches and strategies on tackling corruption in Uganda and Africa at large. On the contrary, the approaches and solutions look smooth in design,  are desirable, achievable and, could as well qualify to be SMART.  However, why haven’t our best solutions taken Uganda out of the corruption vicious circle?

In the recently published 2017  Corruption Perception Index, Uganda ranked 151 out of the 180 countries. Unfortunately,  this poor performance is nothing new as the country has enjoyed the same SPOT  for the last four  CPI years.

As a country, we approximately have 10 agencies mandated to tackle corruption , but their contribution towards fighting graft  is not solid  since some of them could be duplicating each other’s work. These include: the Inspectorate of Government (IG), the Directorate of Public Prosecutions (DPP) and the Auditor General (AG) etc. A number of other bodies have functions closely related to anti-corruption action but hold mandates where corruption is but one element ,include the Directorate of Public Prosecution (DPP), Criminal Investigation Directorate (CID) and the Public Procurement and Disposal of Public Assets Authority (PPDA). The Directorate of Ethics and Integrity (DEI) coordinates anti-corruption policy and provides political leadership. All these bodies are in membership of the Inter Agency Forum (IAF) which provides a coordinating mechanism.

Despite the availability of institutions,  a legal framework , and policy measures, Uganda’s performance remains dismal.  Uganda has subscribed to a number of international treaties and regional organisations whose operations have direct relevance for the manner in which accountability issues are addressed. These include: the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organised Crime 2000 (The Palermo Convention); United Nations Convention on the suppression of the financing of terrorism (1999); United Nations Convention against Corruption, the African Union Convention on Preventing and Combating Corruption, (2003)  and the East and Southern African Anti-Money Laundering Group (ESAAMLG).

Notwithstanding subscription to all the above mentioned international treaties, regional organisations and laws, the Global Integrity report 2011 highlighted that Uganda has a high implementation gap, in which it scored very highly (98%) on having a very good legal framework but was awarded 52% for having weak implementation record. This gave the country an implementation gap of 46% in a study that covered 31 countries.

 What could be going wrong?

As a  citizen, I applaud the generals in the accountability Ministries Departments and Agencies (MDAs) and Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) in the anti corruption fraternity for their efforts towards tackling corruption in Uganda! Kudos for the good work—But something is not right somewhere!!  The work am referring to at this particular moment are the best researches,  well designed boardroom approaches and solutions as well as cosmetic appearances before the public to preach the anti corruption gospel.

Ladies and gentlemen, its time for  all stakeholders contributing to the anti corruption fight to slow down in regards to whatever they are implementing and re-strategize on how to make it happen.  Uganda is  poorly performing not because  of laws, manpower and institutions, but, because we are  too rigid to change our ways of work.  This could as well justify as to why the country is not shifting spots amongst the corruption celebrities. It could as well highlight  that the corrupt (read thieves) are too flexible in regards to strategy, to beat the activists and institutions at their game.

 In Uganda today, citizens are empowered about corruption and, have also done their role to report the vice, but where is the actual problem?  For the few citizens I talked to, they highlighted that the few people charged to tackle corruption  in the nation are also corrupt!  Their assertions could be justified by a recent report by the Inspectorate of Government naming the 80 most corrupt government agencies; where some agencies mandated to tackle corruption are famed and shamed.  Citizens perception on these agencies manifest that people no longer trust government when it comes to fighting corruption.

 Therefore a shift from old school approaches in tackling the vice should be made. Board solutions work for board room people but not for the common man.  Let’s be flexible enough to come up with solutions matching with technological and development trends. The common man should be also consulted on what they feel could be best done, since the elites are scoring negatives in that arena.

 What can be done differently?

Instead of borrowing  ideas, solutions and approaches from elsewhere and  redesign them in our boardrooms, it’s high time we ask the common man who is more affected by corruption on what S/he thinks could best be done to tackle the vice. Do not be surprised that they will come up with enriching ideas and  working solutions.  That could shift Uganda from the same CPI Spot to a slightly higher bar.

And for whoever is reading this, what have you done in your capacity to contribute towards the Anti Corruption Fight. Do you have a strategy that  has worked in Africa and could be rolled out to some of us from countries occupying the same spot in corruption indices? Feel free to share your story.

 Until next time!

 For God and My Country.

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Open Education: How open data could improve Uganda’s education system

Open education
Photo credit: Center for Education Innovations

 

As the sun rises on such a beautiful Wednesday morning, my thoughts cannot be separated from what has happened in Uganda for the last three months.

But, as of today, let’s talk about one of the country’s key sectors–the Education sector.

I acknowledge that Uganda’s education sector has gone through a serious trajectory,  but it’s important to focus on the now and the future. We are certain that Uganda’s Ministry of Education and Sports (MoES) released the Primary Leaving Examinations (PLE) on the January 12th, 2018. On a positive note,  i applaud the institution for the timely release; for it has provided parents with enough time to make decisions on their children’s next chapter. Kudos!

 However, at the just concluded PLE release, the MOES  that out of the 646,190 candidates who sat the exams, 57,198 passed in first grade, 293,977 in Second, 128,573 in Third, 91,504 in Fourth while 57,354 completely failed the exams.as highlighted below.

Education data
Data source: Daily Monitor

Whereas the MoES highlighted an improvement in pupil’s performance as compared to 2016, a number of pupils and parents were disgruntled and never satisfied with the results.

Let’s also acknowledge that parents and pupils also have a right to an opinion, but, how do their opinions affect the education system and the future PLE candidates?

 Where is the problem

While making a press briefing on the PLE results, the MoES officials noted that pupils failed in subjects which required applying knowledge in problem-solving situations or freely express themselves. To them candidates were more comfortable with questions that are direct and based on recall.  

However, as a parent and well wisher, i am interested in the data on what translates to scoring a 1st, 2nd, 3rd etc grade! Is it academic excellence, marks, handwriting  or favoritism of certain schools against others?  When i dug deeper into the PLE website, such important information is also missing on the website yet it qualifies to be public information.

For preparation of future candidates, such information should be in the open and accessed by all parents and citizens. This is not a matter of national security, but integrity of the esteemed institutions responsible for setting, marking  and supervising the exams. With no data to answer people’s questions to understand the system better, this has reduced Ugandans to social media news! —false or right will be tackled next time!

Furthermore, the MoES  is cognizant of the fact that 13,023,114 Ugandans i.e 31.3% have access to  internet and could use social media to get heard. And if the MoES  and UNEB pays a blind eye, the system will be deemed opaque, biased and of course discriminatory. Using social media escapades, alternative data (since we don’t have official data) has been spreading from  one social media site to another; with information on how the grading for private schools differed from governments’ Universal Primary Education schools.

According to the alternative data, a pupil in a public school only needs a 75% to get a distinction and one in a private school needs 94%! If this is right, I presume that the esteemed ministry would openly inform the public on its decisions, as well as justifications. Further Still, how does the MoES expect dubbed performers to participate in their next leg? Will they  excel or  expelled upon mediocre performance in the senior schools!.

Well, in case its false news, we still expect the MoES to  openly deny the claims for the sanity of the institution. With such information unattended to, some parents will be biased against the educated seniors who have their children’s future in thy hands. In a nutshell, we won’t need to take our children to private schools, and they won’t need to hustle that hard to pass, after all, a distinction is just next door.

How  the situation affects the Ugandan economy?

With a non transparent system for grading pupils, the MoES and UNEB  could be indirectly impeding the performance and excellence of the future workers, innovators and employees. If someone is used to getting things done on a silver platter, at such a tender age, this will be his or her attitude once faced with challenges, ultimately contributing to economic slowdown.

Ministry of Education and Uganda National Examinations Board—  could do better

To improve on the openness and transparency of the grading system; which are key ingredients of a good democracy, we should have the same grading for private and public schools in Uganda. This will not only restore trust in Uganda’s education system but also produce the best future employees for the nation.

The Ministry can do better if only grading parameters are  displayed on their website. A publicized memo could do a lot of transparency instead of making decisions in boardrooms and implementing them on the entire population.This could save Uganda from the premier of the education transparency theater which is threatening to happen.

One thing for sure, the government should invest in the UPE schools as private school owners do. Can we first rethink of the tutors salary, followed by collaborative efforts between parents and government to jointly contribute to the scholastic materials, food etc? This will not only improve the environment of  the learners but also their performance.

Conclusion

Lets focus on the pupil-teacher environment to improve Uganda’s public education system,  disclose the grading parameters to citizens for better preparation of candidates  for such important exams and  bring parents on board by reminding them on their role in pupils performance. This will not only contribute to effective information flow and transparency, but will produce academic giants ready to take the nation to the next level.

For God and my country.


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Can Data about police practice improve citizen people relations with Uganda’s Police?

 

 

policeopendata
Image credit : GCN

For those following developments about police practice in Uganda, less surprising the few months into 2017 have not been the best  of moments for  Uganda’s national force.

Painting the Picture: What could the police be doing wrong?

In the concluded  procurement and disposal audit on Uganda’s national force conducted by the Public Procurement and Disposal of Public Assets Authority (PPDA), the custodians of law and order were qualified  for Issuance of local purchase orders (LPOs) and contracts on expired bids,  failure to state procurement timelines on the entity’s procurement plan amongst other opinions.

This could be a result of internal data management systems gone wrong! We can as well call it  a data manipulation because, a well-managed data system promotes an integrated view of any institutions operations and a clearer view of the big picture. It becomes much easier to see how actions in one segment of the  entity affects others. If only Uganda’s national force had one, probably LPOs would not be issued on expired bids. Despite the flows, the police budget has been steadily increasing over years, thanks to the Inspector General of Police. However,  its un-justifiable if the budget increment is felt by the ordinary police officers since subject data is limited and/or un-found .

Contemplating about open data and data practice in the Uganda’s national force, the Inspector General of Police, General Kayihura in his foreword to Uganda Bureau of Statistics (UBOS) Sector Strategic Plan for Statistics for Uganda Police Force (2006/07 – 2010/11),  highlighted that the statistical process in the Uganda Police is poor, inaccurate, uncoordinated and not time-sensitive.  Ten years down  his reign,  the force is still experiencing the same data management theater.

Without good data management, exacerbated with increased opacity in the force’s operations, citizens could simply misinterpret and misunderstand Uganda’s police decisions and work ethics. Why? Because they will have  ample time to stereotype and perceive. No wonder,  our force is continuously ranking as one of the most corrupt institutions in Uganda, and  the most corrupt East African Region institution according to the Transparency International East Africa Bribery Index.  This is not because they are so badly off in that sphere, but  could be because they do not adhere to open data, transparency and accountability  practices by being closed-off from the  public.

A glimpse  into the force’s budget discipline depicts Fy 2017/2018  as  one of their good years but, teargas tops priority on their budget with 44 billion Uganda shillings earmarked for the purchase of teargas to control crowds and  UGX 51.1 bil­lion for handling post-election violence.

The time to find good solutions to these problems is now.

Uganda’s national force could do better only if it prioritizes data management, access to information and increased focus on transparency. In a transparent institution, data availability, combined with the tools that transform data into usable information, empowers end users to make quick, informed decisions that can make the difference between success and failure.

As custodians of law and order, the Uganda’s Police  should invest in increasing access to information about their work, initiate mechanisms to increase the flow of public information on  what police officers are doing in their official roles, how they are doing it, and how they are fulfilling their responsibility to ensure public safety. This will not only restore public trust and confidence in Uganda’s police but push them steps ahead into the transparency curve.

 

 

Embrace Open Justice to improve judicial transparency and accountability in Uganda

open Justice
Justice Steven Kavuma greets Justice Anglin Flavia Senoga at his arrival to grace the opening of New Law Year at High Court in Kampala (Photo credit: RedPepper)

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