There was a time when degrees were not necessary to describe an educated person. This was indeed the case in virtually all cultural and traditional society and among the great ancient philosophers of the World, such as Socrates. Even Jesus Christ and Mohammed did not need ‚Äúcertified education‚ÄĚ in order to be men of influence and change yesterday, today and tomorrow.

It is, however, true that from the beginning of the modern time in Europe when knowledge started to be broken into small pockets of knowledge called disciplines, humanity started to perceive certified education as the true knowledge, which came to be perceived as the only education. Even special centres were established to offer instruction and preparation to gifted people brain-wise to get ‚Äúcertified education‚ÄĚ in the form of diplomas and degrees. One was not educated if one did not have a diploma or a degree. Knowledge was repeatedly broken into subjects within disciplines, and learners were separated from each other by disciplines and subjects. 

Even if learners were in the same centres of learning, and were playing games, athletics and singing together, they were not really together in the learning enterprise. Simultaneously, the ‚Äúindividual‚ÄĚ who never really existed when he or she was integral to the whole society, became glorified through certification and arrogant. He or she, by accumulating certificates, began to think that he or she was the epitome of both knowledge and education. 

Rigid walls were erected between society and the emerging centres of knowledge. Individualism mushroomed at the expense of the whole society. Unfortunately, meaningful and effective creativity and innovations began to nosedive. Creativity and innovations that used to be whole society-based and be of immediate use to humanity began to be overtaken by theory. Men of great theoretical knowledge but of less capacity to create and innovate took over the education enterprise completely.

Today, especially in Africa, our institutions of higher learning have become sources of graduates with great theoretical knowledge but less practical skills in packaged or cocooned knowledge. As if that is not enough, in countries such as Uganda, getting a certificate in music, Islam or art is enough to become a Member of Parliament or a bureaucrat in Government, at the expense of meaningful professionalization. As a result, important decisions or policies are being made for the whole country or society by people of little disconnected knowledge who never refer to the whole and whole problems to make the decisions and policies. This way they are hurting the humanity of today and tomorrow. They are oversimplifying our complex world in an increasingly complex world mediated by the Worldwide Web.

In this article, I want to write on the usefulness of accumulating certificates at university at the expense of useful knowledge, wisdom, understanding and insights to help us solve our wicked problems (i.e., problems that cannot be solved by the simple solutions suggested by disciplines and subjects. The Web is causing us educators to rethink the very nature of teaching, learning and schooling to make our graduates relevant to the 21st Century and less arrogant to society. The Internet is already an integral element of education in (overdeveloped countries. 

Rethinking the notion of the school and the university in ways that respond to the demands of the Internet age. There is new and different knowledge production suggesting the development of educational institutions that are better aligned with the characteristics of Internet-adept learners and online knowledge. As Collins and Halverson (2009) said, the task of reinventing school and universities for the Internet age involves rethinking what is important to learn but also rethinking learning itself. This has seen modes of schooling being developed that are built around the communal creation (rather than individual consumption) of knowledge, in an attempt to imbue learning with a sense of play, expression, reflection and exploration. Thus, the trend is continuing the proposal to develop new pedagogies and curricula built around social interaction, exploration, gaming and making (e.g., Neil Selwyn, 2014 ‚ÄúThe Internet and Education‚ÄĚ) as was the case in traditional and cultural societies. 

Unfortunately, in Africa in general and Uganda in particular, overpoliticization of education and society in the 21st Century is the rule rather than the exception. This is combined with the academic interests of control and influence of the Slow Professors in our greatly disciplined Universities to resist the new and different knowledge production cultures/systems of interdisciplinary science, crossdisciplinary science, transdisciplinary science and extra-disciplinary science, which are internet-age loving. Consequently, not only is the Internet politically controlled to serve the political interests of the rulers, but science is being politicized for the same reason. It is this, which compelled me to write an article titled ‚ÄúThe Politics of Pure Science in Uganda‚ÄĚ, which is diverting resources from the socially important knowledges in the humanities and social science. However, the ultimate result is continuation with the production of certified graduates of minimal interaction with society and more preoccupied with theorizing and self-gratification at the expense of creativity and innovation

We have many examples in Africa of certified graduates who were or are individualist and averse to teamwork. The most famous of these was President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe who secured 7 degrees in different disciplines. However, he was unable to integrate his knowledge to usher his Country into the Internet age. He did not apply teamwork in the governance of his country and ended up governing it with his family. He spent a good time of his governance time accumulating wealth and producing a chain of jokes. When he was ultimately removed from power, at the age of 93, he left the University of Zimbabwe a structurally and functionally colonial university. He died a man of compartmentalized knowledge who failed to apply it to govern his country well for prosperity. He was a good example of a graduate from disciplinary colleges and universities that were not influenced by the Internet Age (IA) and the knowledge integration movement (KIM). Zimbabwe University remains a chimney-producing individualized graduates mainly because of him. He was unable to see beyond himself and his family; an incapacity most individualized graduates end up suffering from. By the time he died not long ago, the Internet Age (IA) and the knowledge integration movement (KIM) were already globally greatly influential in education but not in Zimbabwean education. Apparently, most African Countries are suffering from the Zimbabwe syndrome ZS). Their rulers have not only banned the Internet but have closed their universities and colleges off KIM.

Uganda is rich in educated people who are following in the footsteps of Robert Mugabe in accumulating individualized degrees as ‚Äúeducation‚ÄĚ in small cocoons of knowledge divorced from other knowledges or from total knowledge. They are true academics, if we take academics to mean the unreal. Unreal means being separated from the world of totality of knowledge.

Today the world of reality globally is greatly influenced by IA and, by extension, KIM. From the point of view of Ugandans still dominated by the British colonial education of the 20th Century, the graduates from the education system, glorifying cocoons of knowledges and certified with a cluster rewards, our most educated continue to be largely uninfluenced by the integrating effect of IA and KIM. They are the epitome of the British colonial education system in Uganda, which was and still is the extension of the education of the Modern Times in Europe: knowledge adding, knowledge splitting and academic self-actualization and self-glorification at the expense of holistic education, critical thinking, sustainability, genuine interaction and future-ready professionals. It is still educating for the past, not for future. Education for the future is education for teamwork and unity of minds, problem-solving mediated by IA, KIM. Such education maximizes the benefits of the knowledge systems or cultures of interdisciplinary science (interdisciplinarity), crossdisciplinary science (crossdisciplinarity), transdisciplinary science (transdisciplinarity) and extradisciplinary science (extradisciplinarity). Elsewhere, I have shown that these knowledge cultures or systems have been collectively given different name tags: alternative sciences, team sciences, new knowledge cultures, new knowledge systems, sustainability sciences, convergence sciences, and learning sciences. They produce completely different scholars and professionals for the future who have well-developed skills in critical thinking, teamwork and problem-solving and are sustainability-loving.

Whenever I have written like this some people have asked me why I ignore multidisciplinary science (multidisciplinarity. I have not stopped telling them the knowledge culture or system of multidisciplinary science (multidisciplinarity), which is preferred by the strongly disciplinary universities, is glorified disciplinarity that disciplinarians are using to hype what they think, believe and are convinced is the superiority of disciplinary science (disciplinarity) and to resist the alternative knowledge cultures or systems. There is no doubt, that disciplinary scholars in diverse universities will continue to produce their disciplinary prototypes at the wrong time until their employability is completely impossible as alternative knowledge cultures or systems proliferate everywhere on the globe! Unfortunately, the simple solutions proposed by disciplinary scholars and professionals have repeatedly fallen far short of our complex problems (i.e., the wicked problems) such as climate change, environmental destruction and poor governance. Instead, their solutions have repeatedly and continuously become our new problems for which we have no solutions. We continue to be trapped in a vicious circle of mushrooming wicked problems, wrong professionals, irrelevant solutions and multiplying new problems with no answers. Our ‚Äúmost educated continue to envelop themselves in disciplinary academic glory hiding behind the iron curtain of ivory towerism. 

Most educated here means most knowledgeable in the multiple disciplines of knowledge that knowledge workers obtain in their academic specialization. You may want to read my article of 2004 ‚ÄúInterdisciplinarity: The Sense and Nonsense of Academic Specialization‚ÄĚ In: Ruth Mukama and Murindwa-Rutanga (Editors). Confronting First Century Challenges, Analyses and Dedications by National and International Social Scientists Vol 1. Published by the Faculty of Social Science, Makerere University, Kampala, Uganda, 2004. (Book). 

Here are our ‚Äúmost educated‚ÄĚ in Uganda:

  1. DR MUZAALE TONY from Busoga has 10 papered degree qualifications; three more than President Robert Mugabe secured. He has a PhD in Business Administration and Financial Management; a Masters degree in Business Administration ‚Äď Finance; a Masters of Laws (Makerere University); Masters of Public Administration (Uganda Management Institute); Masters in Institutional Management and Leadership; Master of Science in Finance (TIBM); Bachelor of Arts in Arts (Makerere University); Bachelor of Science in Accounting and Finance; Bachelor of Laws (Makerere University: and Bachelor of Arts with Education. Of great interest, however, are Bachelor of Science and Master of Science degrees in disciplines, which do not belong to the Natural Sciences. One would be interested to know how Dr Muzaale was instructed in the absence of alternative knowledge production cultures or systems in his university setting.

  2. DR KEPHA NATOLOOKA from Busoga has 8 papered degree qualification; one more than Robert Mugabe secured. He has a PhD in Political and Internal Studies; a Masters degree in Ethics and Public Management; a Masters of Arts in International Relations; a Masters of Business Administration in HRM; a Masters in Business Administration; a Masters of Laws in Public International Law; a Masters in Business Administration in Energy; Master of Arts in Political Science; 3 Postgraduate Diplomas

  3. DR WAMBOKA KOSEA from Bugisu has 7 degrees; as many as President Roberrt Mugabe had secured. He has a PhD in economics; a PHD in Management; a Masters in Economic Policy and Planning; a Masters in International Events Management; a Masters in Business Administration; a Bachelor of Arts with Education; and 28 other certifications.

  4. PROF. BENON BASHEKA from Kigezi has 6 degrees, 1 less than President Robert Mugabe secured. He has a PhD in Educational Administration; a PhD in Public Administration; a Masters in Management Studies Project; a Masters in Social Sector Planning and Management; a Bachelors of Arts in Arts in Political Science; a Bachelors of Laws; and 2 Post graduate Diplomas.

  5. DR ANTHONY ISABIRYE from Busoga has 6 degrees, 1 less than President Robert Mugabe. He has a Bachelors in Economics from Makerere; a BA (Hons) in Human Resource Management from Rand Afrikaans  University; a Bachelors in Education from Rand Afrikaans  University; a Masters in Human Resource Management from the University of Johannesburg; a Masters in Education from the University of Johannesburg; and a PhD from the University of South Africa.

  6. DR NAMATENDE LYDIA SAKWA from Busoga has 5 degrees, 2 less than President Robert Mugabe secured. She has a PhD in Gender and Diversity; a PhD in Education (Curriculum and Teaching); a Masters in Science in Educational Research; a Masters in Arts in Linguistics; and a Bachelor of Arts with Education.

  7. DR JAMES MUSINGUZI from Toro, most likely with origins from Kigezi. Has 5 degrees, 2 l3ss that President Robert Mugabe secured. He has a PhD in Management; a Masters in Science in Zoology; a Masters in Business Administration; a Masters of Project Planning; a Bachelor of Science with Education; and 1 Postgraduate Diploma.

  8. DR HUSSEIN KISIKI NSAMBA said to be from Buganda, but the name Kisiki suggests he is from Busiki in Busoga. He has a PhD in Industrial Chemistry; a PhD in Chemical Engineering; a Masters in Chemical Engineering; and a Bachelors degree in Engineering.

If the Biblical story that the three wise men came from the East is to be taken seriously, then it is also true that the most knowledgeable Ugandan knowledge workers come from the Eastern part of Uganda, principally Busoga. I have in mind the disciplinary and multidisciplinary knowledge workers of Uganda, Africa and the rest of the world. There is a need to change the country’s education system to integrate the new knowledge cultures or systems in teaching and learning to produce new cadres, teachers, knowledge workers and professionals in the 21st Century and beyond. This is a clarion call for Africa and the rest of the world. The roadblock to such a transition is rigid disciplinarity and multidisciplinarity, which multiplies disciplines and preserves their unfair superiority.

For God, Africa and All Humanity.

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Written by Oweyegha Afunaduula (3)

I am a retired lecturer of zoological and environmental sciences at Makerere University. I love writing and sharing information.

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