By Joseph Ssemutoke
After attaining her master’s degree in religious studies from Makerere University in 2001, Rev. Canon Mary Mujinya, the Head of the Mothers’ Union in Uganda, found herself yearning to delve further into studies.
Then a teacher with 20 years’ experience in the classroom and a senior Church of Uganda cleric, she had realised that Uganda’s increased literacy had not borne the expected increased morality and increased standards of living. And she wanted to systematically prove her suspicion that it was all because of a flawed education system paired with a discardment of religion.
“Our life expectancy had gone much lower than in the days of less literacy, corruption was rising, relations among Ugandans souring, irresponsibility in lifestyle increasing.
I wanted to show where the problem was rooted,” Mijinya said.
And on Tuesday, after nearly 10 years investigating the problem, the Rev. was awarded a PhD in religious studies. With a research thesis titled: “ Education and moral building in Uganda”. Her findings and recommendations could help us reap the long-elusive benefits of increased literacy.
Using a case study of schools mainly from Ankole region, she has identified several of the flaws in our education system that have led to the decline of morality in our community, showing how they are all rooted in the neglect of our religious faiths.
Mujinya posing the argument that Western countries developed on the basis of citizens having good morals rooted in their religious faith (leading them to be hardworking, nationalistic, humanistic, self-driven, among others), recommended that we borrow from their experience and respect our religious faiths and their human values.
As a clergywoman, Mothers’ Union head and a teacher, Rev. Mujinya says she is trying to implement some of her recommendations which include assisting university chaplains in guiding students on how to live purposeful lives and advising church members on the same.
Born in 1960 to Kanyesigye of Sheema (then Bushenyi), Rev. Mujinya has also had to take the long route to her PhD. She lost her father when she had just completed her primary school and her elder-brother, who became the caretaker could not sponsor her secondary education. Her only option was to join a Teachers’ Training College and qualify as a Grade II teacher. She joined Bishop Stuart TTC in 1976, graduated in 1979 and started teaching in 1980.
However, the Rev says she convinced herself and prayed to God that she wouldn’t die a Grade II teacher and by 1984, she had upgraded her qualifications to Grade III and in 1992 she got her Diploma in Education (Grade 5). In 1998, she attained a B.A. divinity degree (studied at what was then Bishop Tucker Theological College in Mukono and awarded by Makerere), and after 15 years teaching in primary school, she became a secondary school teacher.
She joined Makerere in 1999 to pursue a Master’s Degree which she completed in 2001 and in 2002 embarked on the PhD journey.
Married to Adiaz Mujinya in 1982 and a mother of five (the fourth-born also graduates this week), she says she has had to balance school with family and church work, and having finally made it has her thanking God for everything.