Bwambale Musubaho Robert is the School Director of the Kasese Humanist School (Rukoki/Muhokya/Kahendero). Here we talk about his life, views, and work.
Scott Douglas Jacobsen: How do Humanists get stereotyped in primary and second schools?
Robert Bwambale: People think humanists are devilish, satanic, devil worshipper, ritualistic, non-believers, worshippers of science, Illuminati, homosexuals and are going to hell and perish in the fires.
Jacobsen: Following from the previous question, how do the pupils get impacted by this stereotyping?
Bwambale: It all takes enlightenment to debunk the lies or misconceptions. We encourage our students to learn more about humanism and what it actually means, teach them humanist values, ethics and the moral code and point out famous secular minds both living and past ones.
Of course, the stereotyping is a bad blow to our initiatives but since they are all lies and ignorant statements made by our enemies we encourage the pupils to dispel and ignore them and be in a position to defend Humanism or Atheism in that regard as per their understanding.
Jacobsen: When it comes to funding in Uganda, do the religious nursery, primary, and secondary schools get preferential treatment by the government?
Bwambale: Yes, most schools in Uganda are religiously funded or having an attachment to a particular religion. We have government-aided schools which are helped by the government and these get enormous funding ranging from classroom constructions, essential textbooks, paying staff salaries, school furniture, latrine constructions to mention but a few.
Jacobsen: There is a larger context surrounding any educational system for the young. When the children go home, and if they have a Humanist education, obviously, the parents have made a conscious choice for the future of their children, in spite of the potential backlash from their community. Why do parents make this choice? What do they or the kids say to you?
Bwambale: Some parents are knowledgeable especially those who understand better the waves between science and religion, such as who question religion would feel safer having their kids educate through our schools.
The agnostic parents too would enjoy educating with us.
Those other parents who look at a school as a place for knowledge and not a preaching ground would mindless about what goes on, after all, they know that what we offer is knowledge.
Most parents give us children after seeing the variety of what we can offer ranging from the curriculum subjects, humanist studies, computer knowledge and vocational skills subjects. Our strong commitment to promoting science is another good attraction for why parents love our school.
The generosity and compassionate nature of our school and its exposure to the international community also put us at an added advantage. Our parents need a helping hand to give them a boost.
Some parents comfort and encourage me not to listen to the lies or smears against my campaigns.
Some school children do report to me some pastors who say bad words against our schools but all I say to them is that the pastors, too, are promoting their businesses by encouraging more people to come to churches so that they can reap big in the baskets at each end of service, so it’s a win-win game.
Some kids have ever told me that each time I take a photograph, I take them to witch doctors to attract fortunes and favours, but I tell my children at the school that this is part of ignorant statements religious fanatics continue to make that are baseless for am against all forms of superstitions and beliefs in magic.
Jacobsen: This is something not asked much, but as something of advice for other Humanist school headmasters and teachers. When it comes to the parents in a religious schooling context, what seems to work in assuaging fears of Humanism and schools devoted to its educational endeavours?
Bwambale: Am assuring parents who educate in religious schools not to fear bringing their children to humanist schools because our schools are centers for knowledge which an average student is entitled to attain, our schools are the best in the present setting as the country cherishes globalization, democracy, human rights and the need for a fair and just world.
The world right now needs no segregation, discrimination, hate or divisions. A school is in no way a preaching place or a worship center but a place that offers knowledge.
Those serving in humanist schools especially the staff and school managers, should be able to defend Science, Logic and reason and enlighten the masses about the goodness of rational living.
Jacobsen: Following from the previous question, what tends to be the sequence of events in the reduction of stereotyping and fear of Humanist schools for parents of prospective pupils?
Bwambale: Sensitization and awareness about humanism campaigns on radios, home visits and outreach missions.
Holding debates on science and religion
Encouraging critical thinking to students and parents of the school
Educating parents of the school about what it means to be a humanist and his or her mode of life.
Jacobsen: Also, how are cost comparisons now? Does Kasese acquire more governmental or any government funding comparable to the local religious schools?
Bwambale: There no feasible government funding to the Kasese Humanist School, Local religious schools are however helped big in some way.
Jacobsen: What the demographics of pupils and staff now?
Bwambale: Rukoki School – Primary section = 214 pupils
Staff = 14
Rukoki School – Secondary section = 54 students
Staff = 12
Bizoha School – Muhokya = 280 pupils
Staff = 12
Kahendero Humanist School = 205 pupils
Staff = 10
Jacobsen: What are some of the positive outcomes from its educational endeavours?
Bwambale: Some of our graduates are trained teachers, doctors, engineers, nurses while others are farmers, carpenters, drivers to mention but a few.
Jacobsen: What are the hoped-for outcomes for 2020/2021?
Bwambale: We are optimistic our candidates will pass with flying colours in their terminal exams.
Jacobsen: Thank you for the opportunity and your time, Robert.
Scott Douglas Jacobsen is the Founder of In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal and In-Sight Publishing. He authored/co-authored some e-books, free or low-cost. If you want to contact Scott: Scott.D.Jacobsen@Gmail.com.
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