Prof. William Ssenteza Kajubi was born to the family of Yoweri Kajubi and Bulanina Namukomya in 1926. He went to Makerere University where he later became a teacher. In 1964, he was appointed director of the National Institute of Education at Makerere University. He was twice appointed as Vice Chancellor to Makerere University between 1977-1979 and 1990-1993.
In 1979, Prof. Kajubi became a professor in Higher Education and later joined Nkumba University as Vice Chancellor where he served until 2008 when he retired. Prof. Kajubi is a renowned teacher at Kings College, Buddo, he taught many people at Makerere University, a renowned writer, has served on many education committees. He was among the 19 members on Prof. E.B. Castle, a member of the Education Commission of 1970 and was among the Education Review Commission that introduced U.P.E.
As Vice Chancellor at Makerere University, Prof. Ssenteza together with Prof. Walusimbi worked tirelessly to introduce a University course in Luganda language. He was among the committee that laid out the procedure in setting EAEC examinations with the help of Joyce Mpanga, Prof. Livingstone Walusimbi and the late Solomon Mpalanyi.
He has been on the advisory council of the Kabaka for a very long period of time and a renowned advocator of a Federo system of governance for Buganda. He has served his clan and promoted his culture. As an academician, Prof. Ssenteza does not shy away from using his native language at any given setting. He has helped many young men and women in Buganda to acquire jobs and has been a great pillar to Nkobazambogo. A great politician, an academician, cultural icon, a teacher who adores his King and an advisor on development all together make him eligible to receive the award of “Ekitiibwa ky’Amafumu n’Engabo”.
Prof. Kajubi is unhappy with how UPE is currently run At 84, Prof. Ssenteza Kajubi remains very articulate, jokes quite a lot and walks about comfortably in the well knit compound of his storeyed bungalow in Bugolobi, an affluent Kampala suburb. After an illustrious academic career that spurned decades and saw him serve twice as Vice Chancellor of Makerere University (1977-79 and 1990-1993) and Nkumba University (1994-2008) and won several awards, Prof. Kajubi should be a very accomplished and content man.
But however, the celebrated academician, who retired in 2008 after 57 years of service, is not particularly happy with the current state of the Universal Primary Education (UPE) as we found out in a three-hour interview on December 11. Seventeen years ago, Prof. Kajubi wrote the White Paper as the Chairperson of the Education Policy Review Commission that recommended the UPE system. Understandably, as one of the leading brains that mooted the idea, Kajubi is disappointed by the high dropout rates under the UPE programme.
“The way we had envisaged UPE is not how it was implemented,” he remarks. He explains: “We had said let’s begin gradually by helping parents; we envisaged them also as playing some role. For instance, if a parent paid fees for his child from Primary One to Three, government would take it up and, say, pay fees for all children from Primary Four. The parents were to be encouraged to provide the buttress and Government takes over gradually.” On the contrary, Kajubi says government went all-out by starting from Primary One, and eliminating the parent’s support.” “Parents began to say ‘kakati abaana ba Museveni (Now the children belong to Museveni).
In an education system you don’t eliminate parents because they are the first teachers of the children,” says Kajubi. He notes that government went ahead and banned any other forms of fees (including lunch), further complicating the running of the programme. He argues that before NRM took over government, parents were playing a big role through the Parents and Teachers Associations (PTAs). “They supplemented teachers’ salaries, provided transport and building materials but when they were ruled out Government didn’t have enough resources to do all that,” he says. “Today, even if you call a meeting at the school, parents don’t turn up because they say: ‘What for when there’s UPE?’” Kajubi’s commission recommended that in order to expand higher education there should be cost-sharing in universities so that government puts more funds in the primary education sector.
“The financing of education had been like an inverted pyramid whereby government was putting in virtually nothing at the bottom and providing everything at the top. So, we recommended that government should provide a minimum at the apex and as much as possible at the bottom in order to democratize education,” he recalls.
Between 1977 and 1979, he chaired the first Kajubi Education Policy Review Commission. Although its recommendations were not officially adopted, they formed the basis for the national education policy until the second Kajubi Commission of 1987-92. It’s the White Paper of the second commission, which Prof. Kajubi chaired, and including Prof. Apolo Nsibambi, that mooted the UPE idea. He also reveals that his commission recommended that primary level education be extended to eight years and secondary education reduced to three years, but Government didn’t accept that recommendation.
Prof. Kajubi started his elementary education at Mackay Memorial Primary School, Nateete in Kampala (1933-1940), joined Mengo Junior SS (1941-1942) and King’s College Budo (1943-1946) for secondary and enrolled at Makerere College (now Makerere University). “To enter Makerere then was like going through the narrow path which leads to heaven because the competition was very tight,” he recalls. He recalls that only 60 students were admitted in 1947 when he joined the prestigious institution. The students came from Tanganyika, Kenya, Zanzibar, Nyasaland (now Malawi) and Southern Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe). The total student enrollment of Makerere College was then 200! Prof. Kajubi says the tight enrollment numbers ensured quality education then. Quoting former colonial Governor, Sir Phillip Mitchell, Kajubi says the purpose of Makerere was to ‘produce an aristocracy of culture, which by nature must be very small.’ FULBRIGHT SCHOLARSHIP After Makerere in 1951, Kajubi began teaching at Kako Junior Secondary School in Masaka. After two years, he received a Fulbright Scholarship, which saw him enroll at the University of Chicago in USA. He pursued a Master of Science degree in Geography, which he completed in 1955. On return, he went to teach Geography at King’s College Budo until 1959 when he was appointed lecturer in Education at Makerere.
In 1964, he became Director National Institute of Education at Makerere University. After independence in 1962, Prof. Kajubi was named a member of Uganda’s first Education Commission, chaired by Professor Edgar Castle. The Castle Commission, Prof. Kajubi says, put particular emphasis on raising the standard of primary education by improving the quality of primary teacher education. “At that time, most of the teachers in primary schools were not qualified; many of them were vernacular teachers,” he explains. The teachers had only four years of primary education and two for teacher training. Ideally, Kajubi says, the Castle Commission concentrated on the improvement of primary education so that the country produces people for secondary extension that would ‘Ugandanise’ the civil service because the colonialists were leaving the country.
FIGHTING FOR TEACHERS
In response, government tasked Prof. Kajubi as Director National Institute of Education to improve teacher education. “Our role as an institute was to take the university nearer to the teachers and to bring the teachers nearer to the university,” he says. The task involved retraining Grade One vernacular teachers to upgrade to Two and others in grades Three, Four and Five to teach in junior secondary schools. Teachers who excelled would be recommended for either diplomas in Education or sent to university for bachelor’s degrees. However, teachers who had gone through the upgrading system to get university admission faced a lot of difficulty mixing with students from high school (A-level).
It is against this background that Prof. Kajubi, as Principal of Kyambogo Institute of Teacher Education (1986-89), proposed a two-year Bachelor of Education degree for Grade Five teachers. Prof. Kajubi argues that through this system all the teachers’ experience from primary education could be evaluated. Unfortunately, his proposal was greatly opposed by Makerere University. He laid the ground for Kyambogo’s gradual transformation from a teacher training college to an institution offering degree courses. And in 1990 when he returned to Makerere as Vice Chancellor for the second time, he pushed for Grade Five teachers to qualify for a Bachelor of Education degree. “I think teachers who were Grade Five before and have got Bachelor of Education degree supply the bulk of teaching in our secondary school today,” Prof. Kajubi proudly points out.
HIS ROLE IN THE KAKOMA VICTORY
“I sat down and looked through what I had ciphered during the night hours. I worked on those ideas till midday.” The next day he travelled to Kampala to meet Kajubi. He advised him to train a choir, and then record the song on a magnetic tape. Kakoma said he consulted his friend, Peter Wingard, then a lecturer at Makerere Institute of Education. They analyzed and discussed the music, and agreed on the beat. “There was nothing to change in as far as the music transcription was concerned in all the four stanzas of harmony. The next step was to visit King’s College Budo choir. When all this was accomplished, I rushed to the chairman and handed him the required recording,” Kakoma recalled. “Kakoza’s tune was good but long. Kakoma’s had one advantage, it was short and easy to learn,” said Prof. Kajubi. “Some members thought it was too short, so we sent the two anthems to the Cabinet. Kakoma’s was selected as the national anthem.” Kakoma’s tune was just one of the many entries. Other composers included the late Canon Polycarp Kakooza and Prof. Mbabi Katana. In July 1962, Kakoma was declared the winner. It was too good to be true.
UNIVERSITIES HAVE DIPLOMA CANCER, SAYS PROF. KAJUBI Sunday, 20 December 2009 22:55 Written by MOSES MUGALU
Universities should recruit and train manpower that is relevant to the country, and avoid the orthodoxy of blocking eager entrants who have low or inadequate academic qualifications, veteran educationist Prof. Ssenteza Kajubi has said. Kajubi argues in an interview with Observer School in Bugolobi, Kampala on December 10, that, instead, universities should be tasked to train and graduate quality people, relevant to society’s needs.
NCHE MUST CHANGE
Kajubi, who chaired the commission that wrote the White Paper on educational reform in Uganda, says they called for the formation of the National Council for Higher Education (UNCHE) to oversee the expansion of higher education. Prof. Kajubi says they encouraged government to let private universities admit students who afford to pay for the education. “Private universities should have the leeway to admit students whom they think have the capacity of gaining from higher education. While public universities would put emphasis on excellence, private universities can also put emphasis on adequacy; producing the people who are adequate to serve the nation in an adequate way.” Prof. Kajubi says he took this philosophy to Nkumba University and it worked. “We admitted people who had the capacity to gain from higher education,” he said, adding that, “NCHE has strict regulations but I think they should be educated because even American universities today are abandoning the idea of admitting students merely on academic grade.” He explained that many private US universities consider other qualities such as people who are public-spirited, have working experience or for affirmative action.
“The NCHE is essential to make sure that those who aspire to give higher education really give something worthwhile; not like those churches springing up everywhere; somebody puts up a kiwempe [carpet structure] and with untrained priests they begin, expecting people to be just excited and give them money! We don’t want higher education to be like that: there must be quality. I say the NCHE should be there to nurture quality higher education but not to torture universities like [by] way of closing them,” he submitted.
“In my view the NCHE should be concerned with the final product rather than with the entry product.” “A person is going to graduate or a member of parliament comes to a university takes a course; sits examinations, passes them and gets an Upper Second degree; then somebody raises a question: ‘Did he pass PLE, UCE or UACE?’ Why frustrate him when he has satisfied all the requirements to get a First Class? Such questions are irrelevant because you find many people in history that did not have those lower qualifications but they were able and adequate,” he said. “Many people who are denied entry to university actually have the capacity to serve the nation in an adequate way.
The NCHE should be concerned with the end product; they should say, for example, now when Nkumba University awards an Upper Second degree, does it meet the standard?” DIPLOMA CANCER Kajubi says Makerere University’s current administrative wrangles, financial hardships and declining standards are a general problem in the sector. “The problem is not Makerere alone. The number of people it used to admit was very small and we cannot continue with that Ivory Tower mindset. Makerere and, in fact, all other universities in Uganda, believe in a kind of qualification worship, what I may call the ‘diploma disease.’ There is a ‘diploma cancer’ in this country. People worship pieces of paper rather than the knowledge which those pieces of paper should signify,” he charges.
Kajubi is saddened that the diploma disease has infected the entire society. “People want to find out what qualifications one has but not what he can do. Many people nowadays go to school in order to acquire a certificate rather than the knowledge and values which schools should be providing.” Parents, Kajubi notes, take their children to good primary schools to gain entry into good secondary schools and on to Makerere University to get degrees regardless of what type of degree! He said the awkward expectations of parents and society force students into professions they don’t love just for the sake of getting a degree. “In the process, values are lost. That’s how we train doctors who will demand money before carrying out an operation, and the patient can die before they receive the money underneath the table,” he states. “Parents want their children to go to Makerere. If you told students to go Nkozi where the numbers are small and well managed, they won’t because they are very anxious to get a Makerere piece of paper. Such desperate moves have forced some students to resort to specialized groups of people in Wandegeya who produce theses and some papers for them at a high cost. This is quite a disease!” says Kajubi.
He also notes that the Makerere University administration has tried to raise revenue from private students but their hands are tied. “They can’t develop a fees structure of their own for the private students because government has to come in, too. Then when the academic staff, under their umbrella body, MUASA, strikes over welfare issues the public and government blames them instead.”
NKUMBA UNIVERSITY EXPERIENCE
Kajubi retired last year as Vice Chancellor of Nkumba University, having held that post since 1994. He says he is proud of the legacy he left at Nkumba. He points out that Nkumba stands for not only academic qualifications but also instills the key moral values of living and serving society into their graduates. Kajubi prides in the philosophy of recognizing people not by academic qualifications only but also by awarding honorary degrees to citizens who have contributed to the development of Uganda.
People awarded honorary degrees by Nkumba University include local entrepreneurs James Mulwana and Wavamunno; former Chairman Civil Service Commission John Bikangaga, former Chief Justice Wako Wambuzi, former Governor Bank of Uganda Charles Kikonyogo and renowned scholar Prof. Mazrui. firstname.lastname@example.org
Kajubi was born 1947-1950: Studied at Makerere University 1964-1977: Director of National Institute of Education, Makerere University 1979: Prof. of Higher Education 1977-1979 Vice-Chancellor, Makerere University 1986: Principal of Kyambogo Institute of Teacher Education 1990: Re-appointed Vice-chancellor, Makerere University 1994: Vice Chancellor, Nkumba University until retirement in 2008.
WRITTEN BY WILLIAM KITUUKA