Remarks by the President to the Community of Kisowera

Office of the Press Secretary
(Kampala, Uganda)

For Immediate ReleaseMarch 23, 1998


Mukono, Uganda

4:25 P.M. (L)

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much. Thank you and good afternoon.President Museveni, Mrs. Museveni, Ms. Vice President, Mr. Prime Minister,Mr. Speaker; to Education Minister Mushega, to their Highnesses, thedistinguished Kings here, the religious leaders and other distinguishedleaders of Uganda; members of our United States Congress, my Cabinet andother important citizens and public servants from the United States. Andmost of all, I want to thank the principals, the teachers, the students forshowing me this wonderful school, the wonderful young people who walkeddown with us today, and the wonderful dancing exhibit we saw here today.Let's give them a big hand, I though they were quite wonderful.

As Hillary said, she and our daughter, Chelsea, came to Africa and toUganda last year. I have heard a great deal about Uganda since then --over and over and over again. In selecting countries to visit, I almostfelt I didn't need to come here because I knew enough anyway from talkingto Hillary about it. She has, I think, become your unofficial rovingambassador to the world.

But let me say I am profoundly honored to be here, honored to be onthis continent, honored to be in this country, honored by the progress thathas been made in these last few years in improving economic conditions, inimproving political conditions. Thank you for what you have done, Mr.President, and to all of you.

Earlier today we talked about trade and investment. And PresidentMuseveni wants more of both, and he should. We talked about politicalcooperation and how we could work together for the future. And I listenedvery carefully to what the President said about the history of Africa, thehistory of Uganda, the future, what mistakes had been made in the past.

It is as well not to dwell too much on the past, but I think it isworth pointing out that the United States has not always done the rightthing by Africa. In our own time, during the Cold war, when we were soconcerned about being in competition with the Soviet Union, very often wedealt with countries in Africa and in other parts of the world based moreon how they stood in the struggle between the United States and the SovietUnion than how they stood in the struggle for their own people'saspirations to live up to the fullest of their God-given abilities.

And, of course, going back to the time before we were even a nation,European Americans received the fruits of the slave trade. And we werewrong in that, as well -- although, I must say, if you look at theremarkable delegation we have here from Congress, from our Cabinet andadministration, and from the citizens of America, there are manydistinguished African Americans who are in that delegation who are makingAmerica a better place today.

But perhaps the worst sin America ever committed about Africa was thesin of neglect and ignorance. We have never been as involved with you, inworking together for our mutual benefit, for your children and for ours, aswe should have been. So I came here to listen and to learn, to offer myhelp and friendship and partnership. And I came in the hope that becauseall these good people up here in the media came with me and they're tellingthe American people back home what we're doing -- it's not raining, is it?It's been cold and cloudy in Washington, I need a suntan.

I came here in the hope that the American people would see you withnew eyes -- that they would see the children dance, see the childrenlearning, hear the children signing, and say, we should be part of the samefuture.

Today I want to talk very briefly about that future for our children.President Museveni and Education Minister Mushega have made education a toppriority, especially through the Universal Primary Education Program, and Iloved hearing the children sing about it.

But you leaders have done more than talk and sing; they have acted.In five years, education spending in Uganda has tripled and teachersalaries have gone up 900 percent. I hate to say that; back home, they'llwonder why I'm not doing better. And, more importantly, your gettingsomething for your investment: better-trained teachers, higher test scores,improved performance in school attendance from girls. I know that KisoweraSchool is proud that it graduates as many girls as boys, because we wantall our children to learn so that all of them can succeed and make us allstronger. In most African countries, however, far fewer girls than boysenroll in school and graduate. One-half the primary school-age childrenare not in school, and that has led in many nations to a literacy rateamong adults below 50 percent.

Africa wants to do better, Uganda is doing better, the United Stateswants to help. Through a new initiative, Education For Development andDemocracy, we want to give $120 million dollars over the next two years toinnovative programs to improve education. We want to widen the circle ofeducational opportunity as is already happening here in Uganda. We want tomake investments in primary education for those who will educate boys andgirls, because that is critical to improving health, reducing poverty,raising the status of women, spurring economic growth.

We want to promote girls' education with leadership training andscholarships, nutrition training, and mentoring. We also want to supportefforts to reach out-of-school youths. This is a huge problem in parts ofAfrica, where there are children who were soldiers and are now adrift andwithout hope.

Second, we want to help create community resource centers with schoolsthat are equipped with computers linked to the Internet, along with booksand typewriters and radios for more long distance learning. We want themto be staffed by Africans and American Peace Corps volunteers.

Third, we want more new partnerships among African schools and betweenAmerican and African schools, so that we can learn from and teach eachother through the Internet. We do this a lot now at home.

Let me give you an idea of how it might work. A student here inMukono could make up the first line of a story and type it in to theInternet to a student in Accra, Ghana, who could then add a second line andthey could go on together, back and forth, writing a story. A teacher inNew York could give five math problems to students in Kampala, and theycould send the answers back. One of the very first partnerships will linkthis school -- Kisowera -- with the Pinecrest Elementary School in SilverSpring, Maryland, USA. I want more of them.

Fourth, we want to support higher education with the development ofbusiness, health care, science, math and engineering courses. These areabsolutely essential to give Africans the tools they need to compete andwin in the new global economy, and we want to help do that.

Finally, we want to build ties between associations and institutionswithin Africa and in America so that groups in your nations and oursconcerned with trade and investment, consumer issues, conflict resolution,or human rights can connect with distant counterparts and learn togetherand work together. This will empower citizens on both continents.

This initiative will help more Africans, all right, to start school,stay in school, and remain lifelong learners. But Americans will learn agreat deal from it as well.

We also want to support your efforts in health and nutrition. Ugandahas suffered so much from AIDS, but President Museveni launched a strongeducation campaign with frank talk and he has made a huge difference, ashave all of you who have worked to turn around the AIDS problem in Uganda.

We will continue to combat it with global research and health care andprevention efforts. But these efforts are also essential to combatmalaria, an even greater killer of Africans. Nearly 3,000 children everyday -- a million each year -- are lost to malaria. By weakening as well askilling people, malaria contributes to poverty and undermines economicgrowth. Ninety percent of all malaria cases arise on the continent ofAfrica, but with increasing globalization we are all at risk. We now fundin the United States half the research on malaria, but we want to do more.

This year, we've committed $16 million more to help African nationsfight infectious diseases, including malaria, with an additional milliondollars to the West African Malaria Center in Mali. We also want tosupport good nutrition. There are troubling signs that without concertedefforts, Africa could face a major food and nutrition crisis in the comingyears because of natural causes and social unrest. Children cannot learnif they are hungry. So we have proposed a food security initiative forAfrica to ensure that more African families can eat good meals and moreAfrican farmers can make good incomes.

Over the next 10 years, we want to stay with you and work at this. Inthe next two years we propose to spend over $60 million in Uganda, Mali,Malawi, Mozambique and Ethiopia to increase food production, enhancemarketing, expand agricultural trade and investment.

I've learned a lot since I've been here about Ugandan bananas, Ugandancoffee. I will be an expert in all these matters when I go home.

I want you to understand again what I said at the beginning. We wantto do these things in education, in health care and agriculture andnutrition because they will help you, because we want to see the light thatis in these children's eyes forever, and in the eyes of all other children.

But make no mistake about it. The biggest mistake America ever madewith Africa over the long run was neglect and lack of understanding that weshare a common future on this planet of ours that is getting smaller andsmaller and smaller. We do these things, yes, because we want to help thechildren. But we do it because we know it will help our children. For wemust face the challenges and seize the opportunities of the 21st centurytogether. The next century, in a new millennium, will be the brightestchapter in all of human history -- if, but only if, it is right for all ofour children.

Thank you and God bless you.

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