A section of Members of Parliament (MPs) are pushing to have the current minimum academic requirements for legislators and presidential aspirants raised to degree as opposed to the current Advanced Level certificate.
The proponents of this Bill led by Tororo District Woman MP Sarah Opendi contend that the current A-Level minimum requirement for one to join Parliament or contest for the top seat of president, is outmoded.
They also argue that the country is flooded with citizens in possession of A Level certificates due to the free universal education provided by the government.
We totally agree with the protagonists of this Bill. This is why the four major roles of MPs are important and huge, implying that those elected need to be knowledgeable enough to articulate issues of national importance.
The four core roles of MPs are legislation (MPs debate and pass laws through which institutions of government endeavor to guide the country’s process), budget approval/ appropriation (involves analysing and passing the national budget every year), oversight (involves monitoring and bringing to the attention of ministers and the public about misuse of government funds) and lastly, representation of their electorate by holding consultative meetings with their voters, updating them on the activities of Parliament and government programs.
With such important roles, the office bearer should have attained a certain high education level in order to effectively articulate them. On several occasions, we have seen some legislators who can’t even articulate issues of national importance on the floor of the House for various reasons, including their level of education.
Records of the Hansard of Parliament show that some MPs finish the entire five years in the House without uttering a single word. Some decide to keep quiet because they are not well conversant with the English language, which is the official language spoken in Parliament. It’s usually this category of legislators who are very busy in corridors of Parliament giving bytes to journalists on issues discussed inside the House and they mainly do so in vernacular.
We believe that once the current minimum academic standards are raised to a degree, it will curb such category of MPs. This will also enhance quality debates which the late Speaker Jacob Oulanyah was advocating for among his colleagues.
This move is also timely because the other arm of the State, the Judiciary, the judges are learned people, that is why they are called learned friends, with a minimum of bachelor’s degree in law and a post-graduate diploma in legal practice from Law Development Center (LDC). For purposes of equality among the three arms of State, why can’t the MPs and the Executive arms also have well educated office bearers?
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