A study by Makerere University’s College of Education and External Studies have found that only 42% of Ugandans can sing the National Anthem.
On contrary, the study found, 90% of the people sampled could sing cultural anthems of their respective tribes such as Buganda Kingdom’s “Ekitibwa Kya Buganda.”
The study, which was conducted under a project titled “enhancing capacities for integration of patriotism in the training of early childhood teachers in Uganda,” took place in four Primary Teachers’ Colleges from various regions of the country. Respondents included Principals, Deputy Principals, tutors and students.
The project aimed at establishing parameters that can be used to integrate patriotism into the training of early childhood teachers in Uganda.
Dr Dorothy Kyagaba Sebbowa, the principal investigator and lecturer at Makerere University Department of Humanities and Language Education said they conducted the study because they realized that there was a gap as far as patriotism is concerned.
“We did think that some of these things that are happening today could be because people don’t have this love (patriotism). You find that sometimes people are so individualistic, there is a lot of corruption, the high crime rates, so we are thinking if we start from the early age, teachers and parents coming in to see how to instil patriotism among early childhood could make a difference,” she said.
Training patriotism to nursery school teachers who in turn teach the patriotism education to young children, she said, will make a huge contribution in achieving vision 2040 since children are often referred to as the future of the nation.
Prof Anthony Muwagga Mugagga, the Director Institute of Education Research at the College of Education and External Studies observed that Ugandans at times, because of prevailing circumstances, don’t feel obliged to be patriotic.
“I think because people are not bothered; and at times the words in the National Anthem do not comfortably tally with what we do. If it (National Anthem) talks of Justice and then someone sees injustice on the roadside, if it talks of freedom and then probably they don’t see freedom… but their tribal anthems, somehow it seems, they talk with their hearts,” said Mugagga.
In Uganda, he said, people have more interest in tribal values not the national culture.
Brigadier Patrick Mwesigye, the Commissioner for patriotism in the office of the President responding to the challenge of majority showing failure to sing the national anthem contrary to tribal or cultural Anthems, said; “That shows you that we lack the national consciousness but we are more passionate about local interests and what is important actually should be about national interests.”
He added that people who don’t know about patriotism cut across different generations because of lack of programmes of inculcating patriotism in the country way back during the post-independence Governments.
“It is only recently in 2009 when His Excellence President Yoweri Museveni initiated patriotism programmes and inculcating norms and values among the secondary school children.”
The Commissioner Basic Education in the Ministry of Education and Sports Dr Cleophus Mugenyi said teaching patriotism to young children of 3 to 8 years is a foundation which ensures that by the time they join primary and secondary education they understand how significant it is to love their country.
“This makes patriotism clubs in senior (secondary schools) stronger with students understanding the significance of loving their country,” he said.
Despite belonging to various tribes, Dr Mugenyi said all people remain Ugandans and therefore patriotism is a responsibility of every citizen.
He promised to collaborate with Makerere University to print out patriotic textbooks that teachers can use to teach patriotism to young children in addition to training nursery school teachers how to teach the subject.
Further, Mugenyi said that at school, children should not sing only one stanza of the National Anthem but rather all three and also translate the anthem into mother languages.
“We want the national anthem translated into all our mother languages. We sing it in Luganda, Ateso, Runyankole – Rukiga, Runyoro – Rutooro, Lango, Karamajong so that instead of these children suffering with English words, can sing in the language they are conversant with,” he said.