H.E. Yoweri Kaguta Museveni
President of the Republic of Uganda
on the occasion of the Special Session of the General Assembly on Children
8 May 2002
The President of the Special Session
Your Excellencies and
We met here ten and a half years ago to agree on the Global Agenda for
children. The following were the agreements then:
* Ensuring children health and nutrition;
* Lowering the infant mortality rate;
* Ensuring universal schooling for children of Primary school age;
* Safe motherhood;
* Child spacing and family planning;
* Poverty eradication;
* Sustained economic growth; and
* Debt cancellation.
In the case of Uganda, we have achieved some of the targets. We have, for instance, started on the programme for Universal Primary Education (UPE). Prior to UPE, we had only 2.5 million children in the primary schools. After we launched the UPE, the enrolment jumped to 7 million children but later reduced to almost 6 million because of the shift of some children to private schools. Hitherto, about 300,000 children have been sitting for Primary Leaving Examinations (PLE) every year. However, next year, 2003, on account of UPE, I million children will sit for PLE at the same time. In the following years, the enrolment in Secondary schools will be greatly expanded.
In order to cope with this expansion of intake into the Primary schools we have had to increase classrooms from 47,674 with 80 students per classroom) in 1999 to 66,712 classrooms (with 40 students per classroom) in 2001. We still have a deficit of 81,950 classrooms. The target, however, is 148,670 classrooms by Year 2007. We also have had to expand the number of teachers from 81,564 in 1997 to 113,232 teachers now. The deficit of teachers is 48,000. Of course, the children of the emerging middle-class Ugandans attend private schools where they still pay. The Government schools are completely free. The children in the Primary private schools are 734,166 This is due to our double channel policy: free primary education for the poor and a liberalized school system at the same time whereby the private sector can relieve the State of some of the burden by providing high quality private schools. This mobilizes additional resources from the community without interfering with the State's efforts in giving affirmative action to the poor.
The expanded school intake will very soon overcome the problem of illiteracy. However, education must do more than that. It must produce skilled people, scientists and managersthat are absorbable by the labour market either inside the Country or abroad. Currently, our country gets US$ 505 million as remittances (private transfers) from Ugandans living abroad who do unskilled jobs in Japan and other developed Countries. If they were all skilled, in something or the other, they would earn more for the Country and for themselves. Therefore, the curriculum must be structured in such away that the necessary emphasis is put on lines that produce school and university products that absorbable in the labour market.
On the side of poverty eradication, we have reduced poverty from 56%
in the year 1993 to 35% in the year 2000. We would have reduced poverty
further by now if we did not have problems of marketing what we produce.
We always run into problems of marketing both the traditional crops like
coffee, cotton, tea as well as the non-traditional crops like maize, millet,
legumes, horticulture and products like skins and hides, fish and others.
On the side of safe drinking water, Uganda has improved the coverage in rural areas from 10% in 1986 to 60% in year 2000. In the urban areas, the coverage was 17% in 1986 to 65% in 2000.
Uganda, initially, made good progress in the health statistics. Infant
Mortality rate for the under one year olds fell from 122 to 81 per 1000
born alive. Unfortunately, on account of incompetence of the 56 Local Governments
we gave power to in the new Constitution of 1995, infant mortality rate
has, again, regressed to 88 per 1,000. This is a great shame and we are
going to resolve it decisively. We shall have to make performance contracts
with the Local Governments. We cannot give them resources and they betray
our children by allowing them to die from the. six preventable causes:
. Perinatal - 22%;
. Acute Respiratory Infection (ARI) - 20%
. Diarrhoea - 12%
. Malaria - 8%
. Measles - 5% and
. HIV/Aids - 4%
. Others - 29%
Since I was directly involved in the anti-Aids campaigns, we managed to achieve good results. Prevalence rates among adults fell from 30% in 1991 to 6.1% in 2001. I will have to watch out that it does not slip again. The catchment area of the school system is becoming an important battle area. Since one third of the whole population of Uganda will soon be in schools, we must have well-packaged information systems, possibly every fortnight (not too frequently but also not too rare), for the schools. The teachers (Head teachers) must pass on this information to the school population.
Access to Markets:
Standing behind all these problems is the question of underdevelopment, especially in Sub-Saharan Africa. In the 1960s Africa lost time because our leaders interfered with the private sector through nationalization systems of those days. However, even countries which never adopted a command economy model did not do well either. Therefore, the other fact I have identified is lack of access to lucrative markets. It is now my conclusion that the most urgent demand to underwrite all these development goals we keep talking about, is to ensure market access to the products of Sub-Saharan Africa to the lucrative markets of the OECD Countries. It is a shame that out of US$ 1.2 trillion value of World Trade in Agricultural products, Africa, until recently, was only getting US$ 20 billion - about 2%. The OECD Countries spend US$ 36 billion on subsidies while the whole ODA programmes are just US$ 50 billion. While Sub-Sahara Africa exports goods and services worth US$ 107,894 billion in year 2000. Uganda import goods and services worth US$ 11 ,404.70 million in year 2000 from the rest of the World. Who is, then, helping who?
It is clear that the part of the genesis of the children's problems is rooted in the equitable access to trade opportunities. A comprehensive approach to mankind's development is the way forward rather than the patchy schemes that have characterized our work so far.