Tom Herriman's Journal
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News and Views
More on African Capitalism & Education
From Graeme Brown, Orphir, Orkney:

Great to hear from you, Tom, and thank you SO MUCH for your journal with the superb pictures and music, and thought-provoking reflections. It has been wonderful to be able to listen to the music and to feel myself back in Africa again. I am very intrigued by what you wrote about Ugandan capitalist society. I personally feel very uneasy about good education being left to the private sector. I guess the poor are left with very poor education, if they get any at all. However, when I read what you wrote about Makerere, I recognise that it may be beyond the capacities of the state or the university at this stage to organise good public education and perhaps this is the only way in which education can be organised at the moment. It takes time to learn the skills of organisation required for good educational institutions, or, indeed, for good government! We in the so-called developed world are still struggling with this! When we worked in Nigeria, I discovered how enterprising the people were. Capitalism thrived. When we worked in South Africa during the apartheid era, nobody was allowed to trade on the streets as this undercut the vested trading interests of the (largely) white trading sector. This all changed when freedom came. A South African friend, Margaret Legum, a first class economist, but one with a profound sense that the present form of the capitalist system is not working in that country, has urged the present government there to introduce BIGS, Basic Income Grants, a regular grant of money made to every citizen to enable folk to begin to trade in a small way, as they do in Uganda, and, thereby, to get the local economy moving and to give poor people a chance to improve their lot. The real problem is shortage of available resources for folk to start to trade. She also urges, incidentally, that South Africa should now do what every other strong emergent country (China, India, Korea, Taiwan, Chile) has done and close its borders to the outflow of capital and force capitalists to invest in
South Africa. This makes huge sense in the South African context. Again, it allows the capital resources, generated locally, to be made available to the local people and not to be exported for investment in the United Kingdom or the U.S.A.She also urges the introduction of a Tobin Tax on any capital which does flow from country to country, the money from which could be used to aid developing countries. So, while she reckons that we have to work within a capitalist system, it needs radical overhaul. I think that this is where I am also at the moment.
Lastly, in regard to private education in Uganda, the churches, though private, have some experience in this field, and should be doing something to draw poorer children into a good education system. I hope that they are.