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Examination Time!!

Posted on October 20, 2014 at 9:10 AM

It is that time again where Uganda schools focus heavily on the UNEB (Uganda National Education Board) National Examinations. It is a season where churches and families are prayerful, school administration is on heightened attention and working around the clock, and students revise notes madly and give their very best performances day after day in a series of rigorous examinations.

 

 

First up are the Senior 4 Candidates… They will have examinations from 13th October- 17th November. This year it was announced that 310,210 students will be sitting for the UNEB Senior 4 Examination, which is an increase of 14,000 students from last year. Change The Truth has 5 students sitting for these examinations, and SMK has an additional 3 students. Each student has 10 classes. The schedule usually schedules 2 examinations daily…one in the morning and the other after lunch. Within those classes, there are 2 examinations per subjects, with the exception of Sciences, Languages, and Art subjects which will have 3 examinations (adding practicals). By the end of their examinations, students will have completed 23-25 different papers. They will wait until middle of February for their results to be announced. This examination will determine if students are eligible to complete their final 2 years of Secondary, as well as the career path they can follow in the future.

 

 

Next will be the Primary 7 Candidates… They will sit for their examinations on 3rd & 4th November. SMK has 53 students sitting these examinations this year. This cumulative examination will test students’ knowledge in 4 main subjects… English, Mathematics, Science and Social Studies. There is only 1 examination per class, so they must make their efforts really count! They will wait until end of January for their results to be announced. This examination will determine if Primary students are eligible to attend Secondary school.

 

 

Lastly will be the Senior 6 Candidates… They will sit for their examinations from 10th November-1st December. CTT has 3 students sitting these examinations this year. These students have specialized in 4 subjects, along with a General Paper to test their overall knowledge. Each subject will have 2 papers, with the exception of Sciences, Languages, and Art which will have 3 examinations (again to include practicals). These examinations will be essay or practical explanations, so students must display adequate writing skills to convey their primary points of information. They will wait until end of March for their results to be announced. This examination will determine a student’s eligibility for University studies.

 

 

There is a noticeable exhale when these results are completed. Students and teaching staff work countless hours in revising, attending additional lessons, and completing practice examinations prior to ‘the BIG day.’ It is really incredible to witness the commitment and efforts that students must put in during their Candidate years to ensure success.

 

 

Best wishes to all students!!

 

Follow Up on Adoption Article

Posted on September 12, 2014 at 7:25 AM

Sorry about the delayed follow-up posting…I have been distracted by getting students back to school and hosting visitors at SMK.

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Being an adoptive parent myself, anything pertaining to the subjects automatically captivates my attentions. 

 

I have personally known of three adoption scenarios here in Uganda:

 

First, there was a young married couple who were volunteers at SMKOM. They fell in love with one of the little girls, who happened to be a half-orphan. This couple chose to follow the fuzzy guidelines currently in place within Uganda. They were living in Uganda doing missionary work, had a significant relationship with the little girl, and received the written support documentation from the birth parent and SMKOM administration. Their adoption process took over 4 years to complete as they faced delay after delay. The girl was so assimilated into the family that the finalized adoption was an anti-climactic formality. Since the finalization of their adoption, their missionary work relocated them back to America.

 

Secondly, there was a single woman with two biological teenage children. She came to SMK as a visitor and felt a deep connection to a teenage boy completing Primary 7. She wanted to ensure and support future educational options for this young man, so she applied for guardianship. His family signed necessary papers and even attended court sessions with her to show their support. She was in Uganda for over a month with a turbulent experience wrought with emotional highs/lows and riddled with uncertainty. While Uganda court granted her only guardianship over this teenage boy, America courts allowed an official adoption. After completing the majority of his Secondary studies here in Uganda, he will be moving to America in December to begin his preparations for University studies.

 

Lastly, there is a nearby orphanage for young children ages birth-3 years. They have partnered with an American Christian International adoption agency. Dozens of couples have used their services to adopt infants and toddlers. Lawyers in both countries work jointly to expedite the adoption process. Potential adoptive parents are matched with a Ugandan orphan. During their prolonged stay in Uganda, typically between 8-13 weeks, couples are bonding with their baby, meeting with various professionals (lawyers, social workers, immigration personnel), attending court hearings, applying for passports and visa, having a series of health examinations for the child, and participating in monitored visits from orphanage director and other supervising professionals. Once the process is completed, they are able to leave Uganda with their newly adopted child and return back home to America.

 

This week I had the opportunity to meet a young couple adopting a young infant under the third scenario. Their experience has not been affected by the recent article. They have shared nothing but a positive and well-organized experience. They have had time to bond with their new son while lawyers organize the formalities. They have about 3-4 more weeks here in Uganda and are getting anxious to have the process completed to begin a new life together.

 

I will be keeping an eye on this situation, as it is really continues to hold my fascination.

 

Concerns about Americans Adopting Ugandan Children

Posted on September 3, 2014 at 11:30 AM

Yesterday’s Uganda New Vision Newspaper published a front page article that immediately captivated my attention. The following is the article contents, and I will share my personal viewpoint in the next blog post.

 

American Rush to Adopt Ugandan Kids: Alarm as Foreigners Adopt More Ugandan Children

By David Lumu

 

From 2010 to 2011, there was a reported 400% increase in international adoption from Uganda, outlining the growing demand for Ugandan children.

 

Auditor General (AG) has raised a red flag over the rising adoption of Ugandan children by foreigners, especially Americans, under irregular and suspicious circumstances.

 

In his latest value-for-money audit report, the AG, John Muwanga, reveals that the demand for Ugandan children abroad has shot up and there is no mechanism by Government to aggressively track this “alarming” trend.

 

The AG investigated the management of child adoption processes in the country and points out that the Ministry of Gender, Labour, and Social Development “has not established a mechanism to monitor the welfare of these children.”

 

The audit, dated March 2014, covers the period from 2006 to June 2013 and was released recently. “From 2010 to 2011, there was a reported 400% increase in international adoptions from Uganda, highlighting the growing demand for Ugandan children,” the report noted.

 

There are an estimated 2.4 million orphans in Uganda, of which about 1.1 million are due to the HIV/AIDS epidemic. This, the report notes, has created a great need to find permanent homes for the orphans.

 

The AG noted that the 400% increase shows a significant growth in inter-country adoptions from Uganda over the last 10 years. “In 2001, there was only one case of adoption from Uganda to the US. This increased to 54 in 2007, 207 in 2011. In 2012, there were 240 cases of guardianship orders to US citizens (based in the USA) granted by the Ugandan courts and visas issued. This indicates that the trend is on the rise,” the report states.

 

The AG reported that the US Bureau of Consular Affairs showed that during the period under review, 576 Ugandan children were adopted by Americans. But the Uganda Registration Services Bureau registered only 333 children.

 

The AG says the increase in the “international adoption industry” has resulted into mushrooming of the baby and children homes, now totaling about 500 nationwide.

 

Between 2009 and 2012, there were 796 applications for legal guardianship in the High Court in Kampala. Applications for adoption orders totaled 135. These constituted 85.7% of all the petitions received in the High Court relating to adoption and guardianship, says the report.

 

“The audit established that legal guardianship has allowed people who do not qualify for adoption orders to get outside the country. Seventy percent (70%) of the guardianship orders were for onward grant of permission to adopt in the original country of the adoptive parent/applicant,” the report revealed.

 

The AG said there were fears that children leaving the country were being exploited or abused because “there is no assurance that their fundamental rights have been respected and thus abduction, sale or trafficking of children cannot be ruled out.”

 

To curb the trend, the AG has called for the development of clear adoption guidelines and legal guardianship orders. The AG also calls upon Government to enforce adoption laws and come up with an accurate and reliable record of adopted children, including all particulars pertaining to the respective adoptive parents, as a way of monitoring the trend.

 

Speaking to New Vision yesterday, Mary Karooro Okurut, the general minister, said Government will take up the AG findings.

 

“This is a serious matter. We shall surely look into the findings and see what to do,” she said.

 

Barbara Mutagubya of Sanyu Babies’ Home said she was aware of the rise in international adoption rates of Ugandan children, but could not give a substantive insight as to why the US is the main destination for Ugandan children and the adoption trend.

 

Olive Lumonya, the executive director of SOS Children’s Village in Uganda, said she needed to first scrutinize the report to come up with a substantive take on the matter.

 

Adoption is a legal process, where a person takes over a child not born to him or her, permanently. The biological parent, if known, renounces rights over the child.

 

On the other hand, guardianship orders granted by High Court allow usually a non-citizen to have custody of the child and freedom to emigrate with him or her to their country for purpose of adoption.

 

The law requires, that to be eligible for adopting a Ugandan child, a foreign national must have resided in Uganda for at least 36 months, aged over 25 years and 21 years above the child to be adopted. The adoption applicant must be financially stable. However, about 30% of the adoption applicants did not meet the requirements, says the report.

 

According to the AG report, the issuance of legal guardianship is at the discretion of judges because there are no clear guidelines in Uganda.

 

 

The Census is Coming!

Posted on August 23, 2014 at 7:40 AM

Next week, Uganda will conduct the country’s Census since 2002. It was originally to be completed last year, but due to circumstances surrounding lost funding and delay in employing workers, it was postponed until now. (Yeah, TIA!) Large, orange billboards have sprouted up around the country with President Museveni proclaiming “Remember To Be Counted.” Uganda will conduct the Census from August 28- September 6, just in time for students to return to school for their final term of the academic year.

 

Back in 2002, Uganda had a population of 24.4 Million people. That would equate to a population density of about 124 persons per kilometer. The Mean household size was 4.7 people. (Today, there are estimations that Uganda’s population is reaching 35 Million people.)

 

In 2002, Kampala District is the home to 1.4 Million people. (Today, Kampala has expanded to be approximately 1.65 Million people.)

 

In 2002, children under the age of 18 years comprised 56% of the total population. The nation’s literacy rate was at 68%.

 

I am so fascinated by this Census, that dare I admit some anticipation and excitement. Fellow Ugandans have laughed at my curiosity and internal guess-work about how the Census will actually be carried out. How is Uganda going to count over 33 million people in 10 days? This country never does anything quickly or timely, so will it really even happen?

 

Uganda is just now implementing National Identification cards for citizens over the age of 18 years, but millions of people have still not registered to receive theirs. That information will be only minimally helpful, cause being the world’s youngest country only about half of the population is old enough to carry them. (But I do agree that Uganda should start somewhere.) There are no home addresses and most road are unnamed as well. In some areas it is impossible to even know what is located down a particular road. Only a small percentage of the population has a post office box in their nearest large city, but most of them don’t check their box on even a weekly basis. So by my own deduction, I don’t see another possible alternative and find myself trying to imagine the logistical planning and sheer mass of employees entailed to walk door to door in every village, small town, and large city in Uganda. It would be quite a dusty, dirty job!!

 

Next week I will post more updates as the Census begins. I feel like it will be like witnessing an important historical event... should be a good time, people!

 

President Museveni Comments on Anti-Gay Nullification

Posted on August 18, 2014 at 9:55 AM

When the news story broke about Uganda’s High Court overturning the Anti-Homosexual Law, President Museveni was on his way to the US-Africa Leaders’ Summit in Washington DC. He made no public comments about the nullified Law during his trip abroad, and last week he broke his silence. This information comes from an article in Uganda’s New Vision newspaper from last Tuesday, August 12th.

 

Headline: MUSEVENI WARNS MPS ON GAY BILL

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President Yoweri Museveni has advised the National Resistance Movement (NRM) Parliamentary caucus not to rush the re-enactment of an anti-homosexuality law after its nullification by the Constitutional Courts due to lack of quorum.

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Addressing the NRM Parliamentary Caucus at State House Entebbe yesterday, President Museveni told MPs that the law was not a priority for the country’s development even as there was need to protect the family institution.

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“A country which has no vision punishes a divided house. We need to work together through consensus and use collective methods,” a source quoted Museveni as saying.

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According to the source, who preferred anonymity, the President asked the MPs to debate the law when it is retabled in Parliament without any emotional feelings, for the betterment of the country and international relations.

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“This is now an issue of Semusota guli muntamu (a snake which has entered into a cooking pot). If we try to kill the snake, we may break the pot, of we don’t, we won’t.” the President reportedly told the caucus, citing a Luganda saying used to describe a delicate situation that poses a serious dilemma.

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Museveni’s statements came few hours after Speaker of Parliament Rebecca Kadaga and a number of MPs vowed to pass the Bill, which reintroduced in Parliament.

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Homosexuality is still criminal under the Ugandan National Constitution and the Penal Code Act. But the annulled law had provided for life imprisonment for ‘aggravated homosexuality’ and banned the ‘promotion of homosexuality.’

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News articles in the days after this initial response from President Museveni has highlighted the growing tensions between the Speaker of Parliament, the President, and citizens of Uganda over this issue. This matter is far from resolved. Will continue to post updates as they are relevant.

 

Anti-Homosexual Law Nullified

Posted on August 2, 2014 at 5:05 AM

BREAKING NEWS FROM UGANDA:  It was just announced yesterday that the controversial Anti-Homosexal law was nullified.  The following is a news report from BBC website.  This story is surely not over, so will keep you updated...


Uganda's Constitutional Court has annulled tough anti-gay legislation signed into law in February.


It ruled that the bill was passed by MPs in December without the requisite quorum and was therefore illegal.


Homosexual acts were already illegal, but the new law allowed for life imprisonment for "aggravated homosexuality" and banned the "promotion of homosexuality".


Several donors have cut aid to Uganda since the law was adopted.


'Null and void'


Uganda is a deeply conservative society where many people oppose gay rights and the sentence for homosexual acts has always been life imprisonment.


Earlier drafts of the anti-homosexuality act made it a crime not to report gay people - which would have made it impossible to live as openly gay - but this clause was removed.


However the legislationthat was passed in parliament was "null and void", the presiding judge at the Constitutional Court said, as not enough lawmakers had been present to vote on the bill.


The law, which was signed by President Yoweri Museveni in February, toughened up existing laws.


Lesbians were covered for the first time and those found living in a same-sex marriage could have been sentenced to life imprisonment.


The challenge to the law was brought by 10 petitioners, including academics, journalists, both ruling and opposition MPs, human rights activists and rights groups.


"The retrogressive anti-homosexuality act of Uganda has been struck down by the constitutional court - it's now dead as a door nail," the AFP news agency quotes prominent journalist Andrew Mwenda, one of the petitioners, as saying.


Kosiya Kasibayo, alawyer for the state, said a decision had not been made on whether to appeal against the ruling in the Supreme Court, the Associate Press news agency reports.


The BBC's Catherine Byaruhanga in the capital, Kampala, says supporters of the anti-gay laws have been angered by the ruling of the five judges.


They wonder whether their decision has anything to do with the president's visit to Washington next week for the US-Africa Summit, she says.


In June, the US imposed sanctions on the East African nation, including travel restrictions on Ugandan officials involved in serious human rights abuses.


The White House also cut funds to a number of programmes it is running with the Ugandan authorities.


Several European nations- including Denmark, Norway, the Netherlands and Sweden - had earlier cut aid.


But the Ugandan  authorities have defended the law in the past, saying President Museveni wanted "to demonstrate Uganda's independence in the face of Western pressure and provocation".


Pastor Martin Ssempa, a vocal backer of the anti-homosexuality legislation, told the BBC his supporters would be asking parliament to investigate the impartiality of the judiciary.

 

A Moment of Rememberance

Posted on July 14, 2014 at 1:05 PM

Ugandans let out a collective sigh of relief following a peaceful experience watching last night’s World Cup Finals. Many brave souls ventured out to local bars, clubs, and outside gardens with the protection of additional security check points and armed police officers.

 

Four years ago during the World Cup Finals, two separate bombs were detonated in separate locations in Kampala during the game hype. As a result of the blasts, 74 people were killed and over 70 others were injured. Al-Shabaab, which is an Islamic Somali militia group, claimed responsibility for the bombings in retaliation for Uganda’s support for AMISOM (African Union Mission in Somalia). Over 32 individuals from Ugandan, Kenya, and Pakistan were arrested for their participation in these bombings. The after affects of that horrific night have not left the minds of fellow Ugandans.

 

Most of the casualties were Ugandans, but other nations, like India, Ireland, Kenya, America, and Ethiopia also lost country mates that night, too. I want to lift up those lost in the tragedy and their families that still mourn them.

 

 

World Cup Fever

Posted on July 2, 2014 at 5:45 AM

The FIFA World Cup quarter finals week 3 is commencing with USA suffering a heartbreaking loss last night. Whereas Americans usually have a seasonal favorite sport between Football, Basketball, Baseball, and Golf, there are very few performance sports played or watched here in Uganda. Therefore, Football (or Soccer to Americans) is a national obsession, particularly the English Premiere League and Ugandan National Team matches. Admitting that you don’t like or follow football is usually followed by raised eyebrows, a sorrowful shake of the head, and comments of sheer bafflement.

 

By my own observations, I would wager a guess that over 50% of Ugandan households with televisions set are tuned nightly to World Cup action. More Ugandan fans who are working will listen to the games via radio broadcast on their cell phones or taxi radio. One of the public television stations airs game action at 7pm, 9pm, and 11pm.

 

Every person has a team favorite. And they will become overly passionate about their team, players, game stats if their team is challenged as the best. There is a common language spoken amongst Football fans that while I don’t understand, I do admire.

 

I have to admit that I have watched about 20 minutes total of World Cup games. Despite being reminded, I actually forgot that USA was playing last night. I have never been an overly competitive person and the number of Football players from any nation that I could name would be counted on the fingers of one hand. But these games are bringing our world together and inspiring thousands (if not millions) of young players to dream an impossible dream… one day playing in the World Cup for their country. I like that spirit!! Antwain plays FIFA World Cup on his PSP constantly and immolates his favorite player Ronaldo while playing for friends on the football field …he also has dreams for playing in the World Cup one day… and who knows? Dreams are always possible.

 

Ugandans are hopeful that one day their National Team will qualify for the World Cup. It has never happened, but I do appreciate the optimism and country pride.

 

As the teams dwindle and the best teams rise to the top, I may prioritize becoming a fair-weather fan and watch a match or two. After all it won’t occur again for another 4 years.

 

Uganda Anti-Homosexual Act, 2014

Posted on March 7, 2014 at 1:30 AM

 

 

 

Last week (on February 24th) President Yoweri Museveni signed Uganda Anti-Homosexual Act, 2014 into law. This legislation legally declared punishments for homosexuals living and/or working within Uganda. The controversial legislation has raised eyebrows and sparked international discussions, with probable far-reaching financial and inter-relational implications.

 

Uganda is one of 38 African countries where homosexuality has been declared illegal for decades (or more probably centuries). Most African countries have core beliefs founded on family-centered and religious practices, so more liberal lifestyles, like homosexuality, are openly frowned upon. Uganda’s overall society is still largely paternalistic, culturally traditional, and largely reserved. Public displays of affection are extremely rare, and most marriages have traditional gender-specific roles for each partner.

 

Anti-Homosexual legislation has been in the Ugandan Parliament pipeline since 2009 with various drafts being circulated. This legislation was actually passed by Uganda Parliament back in December 2013, but the President refused to authorize the original bill’s harsher punishments. Various unsuccessful drafts of the bill requested the death penalty for any discovered person engaged in homosexual practices and/or relationships, extradition back to Uganda for punishment of Ugandans practicing homosexual lifestyle in another country, and prosecution/penalties for outside parties (family, friends, colleague, neighbors, organizations) who failed to report or supported a known homosexual act.

 

The final Anti-Homosexual Act passed last week imposes a lifetime prison sentence to people publically engaging in homosexual sex acts, entering into a same-sex marriage, and incidents of aggravated homosexual acts (like HIV positive partners engaging in sexual acts with a unknowing partner, a parental or authority figure influencing a younger partner, using intoxicating substances to initiate a sexual act, participating in acts with minor or disabled person, or known repeat offends). In addition, some lesser prison sentence of 7 years for individuals who attempt to commit a homosexual act, procuring homosexual relations by threat, or detention of another with intent to commit homosexual act. Uganda’s new legislation has been deemed in the media as one of the harshest punishment for homosexual activity.

 

Last week, one of the local tabloid newspapers published a list of top 200 homosexuals living here in Uganda. They were businessmen, entertainers, lawyers, doctors, etc. Many of them have left Uganda. They are living in countries (mainly America or Europe) where their lifestyle is not so heavily condemned. Others must live in denial, provide the coverage of arranged marriages, or live back in the closet to remain free and safe within their own country.

 

This week, there has been much media coverage on the financial ramifications of this legislation. Some countries have decided to shift their financial contributions from direct governmental support to funding of non-profit projects. The World Bank has actually frozen a sizable loan to the country. Other countries and likely organizations are deciding whether to pull their funding and support from Uganda completely.

 

But throughout the adversity, President Museveni has been unflinching. He has been the leader of Uganda for decades and is not an easily influenced figure. While the implications of this legislation will likely cause him and his administration challenges in the area of finance and international relations, he is not the least remorseful and stands with plenty of Ugandan political support for his decision to ink the law.

 

It is still unclear the practical implications this legislation will bring upon daily life, education or public services here in Uganda. Since homosexuality has already been illegal here for decades, there could no visible changes. But there is no mistaking the firm, official stance of Uganda’s government and its intolerance for homosexuality within this country.

 

More updates will be posted as they become available.

 

 

Both photos found on Google Images

 

Guess What's Coming to Uganda?

Posted on November 11, 2013 at 2:10 AM

When visitors come to Uganda for the first time, they never fail to notice the country has remained untouched by westernized restaurant chains. There is no Starbucks. There is no McDonalds. There is no Pizza Hut. But soon there will be the first Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC).

 

Aside from the menu of traditional foods, fried chicken served with chips (or French fries) is one of the most popular food items. Ugandans LOVE chicken! Give someone here in Uganda a beef hamburger or slice of pizza, and you are merely providing a snack. But serve some fried chicken, and you are offering a satisfying meal.

 

The KFC is supposed to open within one of the popular shopping malls located in Kampala which attracts many of the international community. It will be a singular location for now.

 

Could this be the opening for other chains to follow? Stay tuned…