Saturday, April 25, 2009

Interview in New Vision

Damn, had missed this interview

Uganda: The Education Ministry is Against Homosexuality

Aggrey Kibenge11 April 2009

Kampala — Following the recent revelation by a self-confessed homosexual, George 'Georgina' Oundo, that schools were the primary recruitment grounds for gay activists, Sunday Vision's Moses Mugalu had an interview with Aggrey Kibenge, the Ministry of Sports and Education's Principal Assistant Secretary and Public Relations Officer. Below are excerpts.

Has the ministry received any reports about the problem of homosexuality in schools?

Yes. The very first report was about a year-and-half ago. It was in the form of an email from a parent outside this country, I think based in the US, who claimed that there had been attempts to sodomise her child, a student at St. Mary's College Kisubi.

She said her efforts to talk to the school administration on this matter had been rebuffed by the school administration, claiming such a thing could not happen in a school like Kisubi.

The parent accused the school covering up the problem, because they have a reputation to protect. I forwarded the complaint to the commissioner responsible for secondary education and asked him to investigate and get back to me. The commissioner reported back that the school administration had denied condoning, or even being aware of the practice, since no case had been brought to their attention.

The commissioner then instituted an independent investigation, which also found nothing to support the allegations. As a ministry, this is the only case we've handled so far. The ministry is against the promotion of sodomy, as some people call it, or homosexuality and lesbianism in schools.

What do you think is influencing students into getting involved in this practice?

I know that young people of school-going age - the adolescents - are at a formative stage where they are keen to try out new things. They are inquisitive about what is happening in the world around them.

Since the world is now one global village, it is possible that they are exposed to cultures and values which are alien to our own culture here in Uganda.

What is the ministry doing to fight the spread of homosexuality in schools?

As part of the ministry's contribution in the fight against HIV/AIDS, we've discussed with students vices like drugs abuse, masturbation, homosexuality and others, which can pre-dispose them to HIV/AIDS.

I have received a number of delegations from different human rights groups - claiming that, by coming out explicitly to fight these tendencies, we're infringing on the rights of some young people, even some teachers. I always tell them, "we as a ministry have no apologies over that because our firm belief is that this is a pervasion of values."


Can you name some of these groups?


I can't recall their names offhand, but some have even published reports criticising our approach. You have heard about the Presidential Initiative on AIDS Strategy for Communication to Youths (PIACY) programme; it's our main vehicle for reaching out to children in schools on matters concerning HIV/AIDS and to promote a safe lifestyle. Through this programme, we've been emphatic on what we consider a perversion of our values and homosexuality is clearly one of those things that we wouldn't want to promote in schools.

But we also know that there are strong lobbies world over trying to promote some of these tendencies. Some of them consider our talking about it and discouraging students from getting involved as a direct attack on them and an infringement on the rights of individuals.

Recently a self-confessed homosexual George 'Georgina' Oundo admitted to recruiting school children into the practice. What is the ministry's reaction to that revelation?

Of course, it's shocking that somebody is coming out to confess that for all this time he's been enticing young people to join the gay movement. And, as you can see, this is a very systematic group with a lot of inducements that have been put out to the young people to join the movement, and he even tells his own story of how he was attracted into movement.

As a ministry, we are not moving out or doing much more than we had already started because, as part of our ongoing programmes, we built the component of life skills into our programmes within the schools - the PIACY programme especially. It's through this programme that we interact with the young people and teachers in schools to discuss what may be considered risky behaviour and good moral values to the young people.

We are working in partnership with various stakeholders, like religious groups, to promote positive behaviour and good moral values among young people.

We have already come up with an acceptable package that incorporates religious, cultural and ethical values.


Oundo's revelation is shocking, but maybe it will inspire us to continue with what we're doing in schools. It adds a new dimension to the outreach programme that we started as a ministry in terms of what to look out for, and what to warn teachers and the young people about.

Q: There are allegations that the problem is mainly prevalent in Catholic-founded schools. Is that true?

A: I wouldn't say so, much as I've told you that the one single case that has been officially registered with us is from Kisubi, a Catholic-founded school. I wouldn't use that as a basis to generalise that the problem is predominantly in Catholic Church-founded schools.

I know that if such a problem exists, it would be more prevalent in boarding than in day schools.

Q: Why?

A: Because in boarding schools young people are confined in an environment for a very long time. Under such circumstances, a vice like homosexuality or lesbianism can very easily find fertile ground. Day schools don't offer the same opportunity, since after school, students return to their respective homes. So where would they do it from, on the way, or at home? I think the problem is largely within boarding schools and not schools associated with a particular faith.


Q: The other allegation is that homosexuality is more rampart in single sex schools...


A: Possibly. You know as young people grow up, there are various ways of expressing oneself in that form. And even when these relationships may not grow into sexual relationships, there are ways in which young people in mixed schools interact and as a result that excess energy has a way of being let off, which may not be the case within single-sex schools.


Q: Some parents are concerned that some school heads are not doing their work; leaving students on their own. Then there's the issue of dormitories being congested. Do you think those two factors might be contributing to the spread of homosexuality in schools?

A: They would, if the school administrations fail to fulfil their responsibilities. As a ministry, we expect the school administration to put in place a leadership system to guide and supervise all the operations within a school. They consist of administration, the head teacher, teaching staff and non-teaching staff.


All these are part of the team around these young people to guide their growth and development. Should there be any laxity on the part of any of them certainly the intensity of some of these weaknesses that are being raised will increase. But, to me, it's a shared responsibility so parents shouldn't leave it to the schools because I believe that bad influence exists a lot more outside the school.


Q: Has the ministry come across the so-called 'children toolkits' which Oundo claims are circulated into schools by the gay and lesbians coalition?


A: No, but I've read and was recently contacted by a journalist about a publication put out by UNICEF into schools. They were allegations that the UNICEF publication had materials promoting that kind of vice and I told him as a ministry we didn't have any idea about that publication.


Q: There are allegations that homosexuality movements are putting a lot of money into such ventures to promote the vice. Does the ministry monitor sources of funding for private schools?


A: Our monitoring is at the level of registering schools. Before any school is granted a licence to operate, there are certain conditions that must be met. One of them is to provide information on the source of funding and even details about the school bank account to establish whether the proprietor has the capacity to run it.


Of course, none of them would, I assume or presume, willingly surrender information that "we're being financed by this group or the other". So the opportunity is very slim for the ministry to establish the funding sources apart from the information that's availed to us.


Q: Should we blame poor remuneration of teachers, especially those under UPE and USE, for the spread of the vice in schools? To make ends meet, many teachers start other businesses on the side or part-time with several other schools, leading to a lapse in supervision and opening a window of opportunity for those promoting gay activities.


A: I think from time immemorial the remuneration of teachers has always been a point of concern, for not only the teaching profession but also even us the ministry. Historically, teachers have been poorly paid in relation to other public officers (civil servants). And I know that the Executive has explained that it's a question of what the economy can support at a given point in time.


1 comment:

spiralx said...

It's an old cliche that some of the best prostitutes start off in Catholic girl's schools! It's a cliche because all that sexual oppression inevitably leads to a raction (often an over-reaction) later on, when cirumstances permit.

Teenageers are curious about sex, and driven by hormones to explore that curiosity. Rather than try to channel that and suppress parts of it, the healthy thing to do would be to explore all the options - hard and tricky as that is to do (sexual education is barely off the ground even in the West).

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