Makerere University Researchers in collaboration with Family Life Network (FNL) have launched a club to address moral decadence amongst the youth.
The club codenamed, “Becoming a New Generation (BANG) will among other things nurture and transform University students into morally upright people ready to steer the socio-economic transformation of the country.
The initiative follows a study that interrogated the moral values and character necessary for academic excellence, social innovations, positive mindset, attitude and behavioural change essential for national transformation at different levels.
The study titled “Rebuilding The Moral Infrastructure of the Youth in Uganda: Nurturing A New Generation for National Transformation” was done by researchers from the School of Women and Gender Studies and the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences at Makerere University in collaboration with officials from FNL.
Members of the research team included Dr Peace Musiimenta, Principal Investigator; Dr Brenda Boonabaana, Co-Principal Investigator; Dr Amos Ochieng and Dr Ivan Twinomuhwezi.
The study was supported by the Government of Uganda through the Makerere Research and Innovations Fund (MakRIF).
The major objective of the study was to assess the prevailing opportunities and constraints pertaining to nurturing and equipping the youth with the right moral character and values for national transformation.
Disseminating their findings on 8th October 2020, the researchers led by Dr Peace Musiimenta noted that moral decadence was a big threat to Makerere University students with several implications.
They attributed the problem to peer pressure, poverty, poor upbringing, mass media that portrays some immoral acts as normal and the desire to lead a life that many cannot afford.
According to the researchers, many of the young people engage in sexual immorality, alcoholism and drug abuse, violent strikes, gambling and pornography.
These have resulted into increased moral degeneration and a number of challenges including diseases, unwanted pregnancies, depression and loss of life and property.
According to a study conducted by the School of Women and Gender Studies at Makerere University, at least 90% of Ugandan university students are involved in premarital sex.
The study was conducted between December 2019 and March 2020 but the findings were shared to the public by Peace Musiimenta, the principal investigator during a recent event at Makerere University.
The recently concluded research involved 993 students from Makerere University and 12% of the respondents confessed to having been pregnant. Of these, 55% confessed that they aborted, 8% experienced miscarriages and 37% carried the pregnancy.
“Some students at Makerere University have dubbed sex a “silent course unit” whereby having multiple boyfriends or girlfriends is common among students,” Musiimenta disclosed.
The study further discovered that due to moral degeneration, there is increased cases of sexual harassment, sex for marks, unplanned pregnancies, abortion among others.
Apparently, freshers (first year students) are more vulnerable to moral degeneration, accounting for 49% of the respondents followed by second year students at 42%.
Speaking of moral degeneration, this study suggests that the biggest form of moral degeneration manifestation is alcoholism and smoking ranked at 57%, drug abuse ranks second at 54%, while sexual harassment ranks third at 53% and prostitution ranks fifth at 38%.
The research also discovered that 91% of the students interrogated were aware that there is moral degeneration amongst their colleagues.
The researchers noted that whereas the Government of Uganda has unveiled plans to achieve political and social stability, middle-income status and physical infrastructure development, efforts to invest in youth targeted moral infrastructure remain unclear.
In a bid to rebuild the moral infrastructure, the researchers called on the government to fund actors implementing youth activities related to moral rehabilitation, and to actively engage the
youth in national development programmes.
“Mentorship is a critical entry point for nurturing and rebuilding the moral integrity of the students. One’s status of moral decadence has a direct link with their choices and achievements,” the researchers noted.
The researchers also called for support towards action research and the BANG innovation to scale further within and beyond Makerere University.
They thanked the Government of Uganda for the support rendered towards their project through the Makerere Research and Innovations Fund.
Addressing participants, the Principal, College of Humanities and Social Sciences, Dr Josephine Ahikire advised the researchers to examine moral decadence and interventions for rebuilding the moral infrastructure from a global perspective.
The event was moderated by radio and television show host, Mr. Patrick Kamara.