Political scholars at Makerere University are asking government to scrap the mandatory minimum education qualifications for Members of Parliament.
Dr SK Simba, head Political Science at the School of Humanities, said Tuesday that the minimum education requirements for politicians like MPs were a hindrance to the practice of democratic governance in the country.
Dr Simba noted in fact, that other lower local government elected positions too, should not be subjected to the academic sieve, adding that poor English-speaking Councillors were not necessarily bad leaders.
According to the don, there is no correlation between high attainment of education and sensitivity to the people’s needs.
Dr Simba was delivering a key note address on decentralization in Uganda at the university main hall.
He noted, “Being highly educated doesn’t mean that one cares a lot about the people. That is why I strongly advocate for the removal of academic qualifications for members of parliament.”
According to Article 4 (1) (C) of the Parliamentary Elections Act (2005), for one to be elected a Member of Parliament they must have attained an A level Standard on an equivalent.
This Dr Simba says is countered by existing evidence about the performance of political leaders at various government levels over time.
He notes that in the period between 1955-1965 when the colonial governors under pressure decentralized government and introduced local (district) councils, the quality of debates of councillors then, which was even in local dialects, was very high.
“I come from Mbale and luckily the local government there has a big book which was put there in the 1950s containing some of these debates and minutes. When you peruse through, you will be amused.”
He added, “Even the debate in our parliament of the 1960s which was comprised of largely primary school teachers was qualitatively better than the current one which has PhD holders.”
“For the sake of democracy, let people choose leaders who they know can serve them better irrespective of their education levels,” he summed.