2015

“Daddy, When Is The Day of Recycle?”

Posted on

Its been an exciting year, and its been filled with equal measure of God’s blessings for life, and Man’s quest for control.

Something happens around this time – we reminisce all the things that have gone well, and if we care, we stop to count them one by one. We also look back on the challenging moments and we promise to make good on them the following year.

Gabriella asked me, “Daddy, when is the day of recycle?”

Of course i was taken aback, not completely sure how to respond, because I was locked in my mind trying to figure out how she arrived at this point in her vocabulary. She noticed.

She went on to explain that the day of recycle is when we take all the things we do not need and give them away to people who need them. She would like us to spend a day cleaning her bedroom so that she can find things to give away. She is confident that the house could use such a breather.

I am eternally impressed at what is happening in her little 6 year old mind, but am especially excited about how she would associate recycle with benevolence!

So I actually started thinking – Would it not be great to have all the people you in your house pile up everything that you all don’t currently use?

Follow that up with a big family wash of all those goodies and eventually, make them available at a Charity store, or drop them off at one of the malls.

Now imagine that 120 families in each of the constituencies in Kampala, Wakiso and Entebbe and other the other 100 municipalities in the country each arranged for a large Christmas give away bash where we just celebrated as a community.

Throw in hundreds of volunteers to arrange all these things into various sizes and categories and pack them up in family size giveaways – or community center store packs.

This may be the best way to celebrate Christmas afterall.

Advertisements

Your Child Is Stupid, For Our School

Posted on Updated on

Last week, I interacted with a young bespectacled Kenyan girl – she is attending school in my neighbourhood, a proud P.7 candidate. Her testimony, was of being able to score above 95% in a couple of exams and 92% and 94% in the other 2 subjects. 

She was happy particularly because she felt that this set of mock exams, taken from another school, was harder than the set of exams of her own school. She went on to say, she would like God to give her wisdom to get the other 2 subjects above 95% because her teacher mentioned to her its the new passmark for getting a distinction. 

My jaw could not drop lower. She must be 13 or thereabout.

She went to narrate how her school takes pupils that do not score high grades to other schools for PLE. Apparently, Kampala based schools would like to maintain the impression of a perfect scores, so they offload pupils who are scoring 3rd and 4th grade marks to lower schools where they “fit” in the demographics. For these schools, these students will taint the scorecard, and cause their annual classification to dip when the UNEB comes reading the top 5 schools in each district. 

How and when did we get to the deep echelons of such selfishness? And why is the future generation of this country being made to feel that they are inadequate just because they will skew the scores?

Parents, you need to be wary of a school that has no children in 3rd and 4th grade listed on their P7 lists for the last 10 years, because as we all know, academic brilliance is a normal binomial distribution – there will be quartiles, on either extremes. 

I went to Kibuli Secondary School and i know that even the creme de la creme of post primary institutions, inspite of their very best selection efforts, still land, atleast in good time, students who cannot remain as good as their 4, 5 or 6 aggregates scored at PLE. 

What are we doing to our children? All these teachers who are clamouring for more, for themselves, when silently they are depriving our children of the right to fail – because as we know, and much later in life, failure is a much celebrated ingredient of success. Why do we make our children feel bad because they did not score 95%? 

Parents, why do you accept to live under the pressure to pay extra fees to one teacher, so your child can miss their rightful term holidays and weekends? Is it really true that this one teacher will make your child pass? And when that teacher gets hit by a boda boda? Then what, you will move on to pay the next teacher who promises your child a 4? 

Why would you expect this teacher to be doubly motivated to help a handful of children pass just because they pay an extra 100,000/= , and get to miss out on their weekends and holidays? If this is what the teacher needs, why don’t we work through the PTA (Parents’ and Teachers’ Association) to motivate all the teachers in the same school so that other children who cannot afford this can also benefit from such a teacher? After all, isn’t sharing caring?

I cry for the children who are moved from one stream to another, and one school to another, and eventually get knocked out of a school because their grades are considered not good enough by the very administration whose job is to increase their confidence and ability to tackle academic and life challenges. For these children, failure will always be a mark on their faces, painted by the system we pay.

I am sick to my stomach that we let such culture take root in our feeble education system. 

I am ashamed for the parents who walk out of the headteachers’ offices convinced that their children are not good enough to sit their final exams at a school they have patronised for the better part of 6 years. 

I am angry at the idea that you drive back home and find the words to package that hope shattering nonsense, and unwittingly become the postman for your child’s new found future – a future that says they are not good enough; at least not good enough to sit in the school they have sacrificed early morning for all their lives. 

This same school, when the results are out, will pay a premium fee to the press, for an advert that says they had 90% first grades, and the other 10% were second grades. They had no 3rd and 4th grades. Oh how conveniently magical!

Humanity’s Public Library

Posted on

At Outernet256, we believe that free access to information is a human right. The Internet has dramatically enhanced our ability to exercise this right, but unfortunately most humans cannot access the Internet. Today, over 4.3 billion people cannot connect to the Internet at all and another roughly 1 billion people have their Internet connections censored or monitored. A world where only 20% of humans have truly free access to digital information is unacceptable. That is why we support the creation of Humanity’s Public Library, an initiative by Outernet.

Outernet broadcasts a data signal from satellites that is free to receive anywhere on Earth. While this is not an Internet connection, it is a free stream of critical information. What information is considered “critical?” You decide.

Outernet256 and Creative Commons Uganda are co-hosting the first edit-a-thon for Humanity’s Public Library on July 18-19 2015, at Victoria University, alongside #MozFestEA to decide what is included in this library. Anyone on Earth is encouraged to participate – details on how to have your voice heard in this process can be found at http://editathon.outernet.is. We want to encourage our users to submit their own work and to submit content from Outernet256 that is licensed for redistribution. One such work is this very blog post. Copy these words and post them on your own blog and let’s all gather together and build a #LibraryFromSpace.

This blog post is licensed under CC0 and is free to be distributed and edited without restriction.

My Speech On the Occasion of the 7th Graduation of Greenbridge School of Open Technologies – Kampala

Posted on Updated on

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am honored to share my life and thoughts with you. GreenBridge

Today, I lead a team of 10, supporting ICT for Watoto Ministries having previously worked with USAID and EGPAF’s STAR-SW Project in Mbarara. Before this, I led a team of 4 managing ICT at the International Health Sciences University, work that I took up after supporting the Ministry of Health’s efforts in Health Management Information Systems as far as Rakai and Bududa!

I have been fortunate to travel this country, from Laminadera to Bunagana, from Lake Katwe to Malaba – Uganda is gifted by nature; but most importantly, this country has potential in the multitudes of young people across hundreds of communities.

My work has also taken me to Nigeria, Ghana, SA, Kenya, Tanzania and Rwanda. I have met more young people, lived through better infrastructure and you can’t help but marvel at flying back home. It’s beautiful here.

You also cant help but see that the world out there is changing so fast, I started out in this profession when my course works would fit on a3.5 inch floppy disk – and now, only a dozen plus one years later, they are gone! You can check blood-pressure on a wearable gadget, you can study without ever being in a classroom, and my preschool kids know their way around a phablet!

Education, Health and all of life is not what it used to be. The product of education is perhaps a most interesting thing – the world now desires a knowledge worker – fast, radical, with highly relevant and immediately applicable skills. There are 2 lessons that I have learnt in the last few years that I feel are profound in my profession.

 

Multi-Disciplinary Technology Evangelists

You see, traditional approaches to life have changed.  Wealth and economic development in the information era has now shifted to knowledge, learning and innovation, which reside in the minds of people like you and me.

 The challenge is to live and thrive in a world and community that demands more innovation. And the demands are off the keyboards and app-stores that we are so familiar with. The challenge is in the slum trenches, in hospital document stores and in government departments that are straddled with archaic use, access and management of information and systems.

But who will be the technology evangelist that will take interest in health systems? Who is interested in how citizenry access open data? Who will make ICT 4 Education their priority? Because I have learned that I cannot just be a great innovator and technology evangelist, I need to anchor into a social sector in order for my technology to be felt. That is what how I attempt to define ICT for development. The defining indicators for development are immunized infants, literate children, active young people, empowered communities and informed citizens.

Which sector will you influence with technology today?

Please note that there will be no quick fixes. Success will be intentional, over time with major commitment and dedication from leaders, knowledge workers, resource mobilisers and everyone. The starting point is a generation that has in equal measure an innovative and entrepreneurial spirit which can be supported with vibrant research and training (such as at Greenbridge) as well as innovative programming delivered by governments.

Being a Young Leader

That brings me to the second most important lesson in my life, one that I am passionate about and continues to be exciting and challenging. This is the question of young leaders – you see, this is not about age, after all that is just a number – “young leaders” is much more about leading in this generation; about identifying with the issues of this generation; and about connecting with this generation in their own unique way.

How do you lead a generation that prefers a mobile screen to face time? How do you connect with a language based on shorthand? How do you inform an informed generation? Moreover, how do you “hang out” with them – at their wells and grazing grounds?

You can, if you are one of us. If we let you lead us – something we do when we know that you understand our language and can communicate with us; but also that you can uniquely congregate us around the most important issues of our time. Jobs. Opportunities. Empowerment.

To be one of us, you have got to be young – literary and at heart. But you cannot be a leader without learning the most important aspects of being a leader:

  • That Leaders Eat Last – That there is a social contract we sign with our leaders, affording them all the perks, privileges and rights; in order that they will stand up for us and protect us and identify with us. If you want to become a leader, putting others first is important. Always.
  • That Leadership is Learned Over Time – Its not like an instant message; like a picture download, actually it feels more like a 6 semester course, spread over the rest of your life. And no, google does not work either, you cannot google leadership. To enjoy the perks andprivileges above, you have to work for it. To be in Hon. Anite’s shoes in 2016, you ought to have started, because leadership takes time.

I believe in young people, and I believe in their empowerment. I believe in the power of education to transform a generation and in the power of a generation to transform a nation.

But you must remember this, Uganda needs young technology evangelists who are ready to permeate all of life’s spheres of influence – The Arts, Education, The Media, Religion, Business, Medicine – with transformative technology.

Greenbridge and institutions such as this seek to curve out a different mould of a young technologically apt leader – are you the one Uganda is waiting for?

Lastly, I find this Alvin Toffler quote very interesting: ‘The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn.’

Thank you for listening to me.

Motherly Moments

Posted on

My mother was a very relational person. She knew everyone – almost. And she knew to welcome everyone. This is one of the most important lessons I will ever learn from her. To love and honor people is no easy fit. People are complicated, friends become weird and brothers fight! It is hard work loving people and remaining committed to loving them. Yet when I look back at my mother, she seemed to pull this off effortlessly.

Sunday lunch always had a guest – a friend or a relative – to catch up with. Clearly, I have not been as great at this. She would spend the precious hours of her weekend attending events, weddings, funerals, vigils, and many others. I always never understood why everyone expected her to be there all the time.

In hindsight, I wish I had gleaned those lessons in time. Now, I find my calendar at a stretch to go visit and attend to everyone. It is easy to hide your head in the sand, thinking I cannot please everyone. But am sure we all know someone who manages to be the people person – and we simply wonder, how do they do it? We all have 24 hours, how is it that they manage to make time for everyone and we just want to hoard the time for ourselves?

Gabriella’s mother is another woman I find very interesting. I am yet to observe a very hardworking woman such as this. She gets tired very often, but if there’s one thing I can count on, she is such a home maker! She has a zeal for a nice and good home; she keeps an eye for speck of any kind of mess. When its all said, and done, beds are straight, the girls rest and I get the rest!

In the 21st century, these 2 qualities are perhaps the most intrinsic qualities of a good woman, and an accomplished mother – to remain relational and friendly in the face of 5 inch mobile screens and tablets; and to remain a hardworking home maker when you could throw money at “the problem”.

I honor these women, for who they are to me but also for the example they represent for the hundreds of girls waiting to turn into women. Happy Mother’s Day.