Ineffective School Management Committees Breeding Decline In Education Standards

SMCs are legitimate bodies provided for in the Education Act 2008, but the neither exist or are not active

Audio 6

Ineffective school management committees (SMCs) are abetting decline in education standards in the Rwenzori region.

SMCs are legitimate bodies provided for in the Education Act 2008.  They comprise of seven members who include parents, local government representatives, school staff and old boys/girls.  The committees act as educational policy-making bodies for the schools and work together with head teachers to provide services that ensure quality teaching and learning.

However in some of the schools in the region, the SMCs are either non-existent or not performing their roles, giving a rise to teacher absenteeism, poor management of schools and embezzlement of school funds.

In 2013, a report by the Dutch agency SNV indicated that the declining academic standards of Universal Primary Education (UPE) schools were largely due to teacher absenteeism caused bypoor inspection of schools, as well as ineffective school management committees.

The report further states that the problem is so serious that teacher absenteeism in Uganda is ranked the highest in the world at 35%, with teachers guaranteed to miss at least two days of work each week.

In Kyenjojo district, out of the 30 primary schools in the district, only 6 schools have active SMCs.

Gerald Tumwine, the former chairperson of Butiti Primary School management committee says that the school has in the past been performing better , but has not recorded a single pupil in division one, over the last two years due to teacher absenteeism.

Tumwine explains that the school does not have a committee following the resignation of his executive over the alleged mismanagement of the school funds. He accuses the school administration of misappropriating money contributed by parents for the development of the school and failing to give the SMC any accountability for the funds for the past two terms.

//Cue in: “we stopped doing our wok…

Cue out: “…children sitting on the floor.”//

Ronald Businge, the acting district inspector of schools officer Kyenjojo admits that the lack of SMCs is partly to blame for the poor education standards and has affected completion of the syllabus in some schools.

Businge states that teacher absenteeism has increased from 45 percent to 65 percent in the past since some teachers have taken advantage of the absence of the committees to dodge classes.

In Bundibugyo district, records from the district education department indicate out of the twenty schools, only three have active committees.

Moses Mugisa, the district education officer says some roles previously done by the committees have been taken over by teachers. He cites the collection and management of money for lunch from the parents.   

//Cue in; “schools with literate members…

Cue out: “…poor performance of schools.”//

Bernard Mujuki, a parent says that some of the members are ignorant about their roles and wants them appointed by parents and not the district education officer as stipulated in the education act.  

Mujuki claims that some head teachers influence the education officers to appoint people they can easily compromise. 

//Cue in: “why office of DEO is represented…

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George Rujumba, the Kabarole district inspector of schools says that although all schools in the district have committees, their performance is dismal.  Rujumba says that in a bid to improve the efficiency of the committees, Centre Coordinating Tutors have started training the committees. //Cue in; “in all our schools…

Cue out: “…depending on the input.”//

However in some schools, the committees are functional.

Jovia Ruhweza, the head teacher Kyebambe Model Primary School in Kabarole district, says members of the committee of the school are committed to promoting and supporting the school to improve the education standards.

She explains that unlike in other schools, there is a good working relationship between the members and school administrators. Ruhweza adds that says that the members carry out constant school visits at least twice a month and interact with the teachers.

//Cue in: “the committee does its wok…

Cue out; “…we are cautious.”//

James Mugenyi, the Ntoroko district inspector of schools says the committees are important and schools cannot do away with them. He explains that schools in the district where the committees are active, schools have performed better and funds are properly utilized.

//Cue in; ‘in some schools…

Cue out; “…much smoother.”//

In 2012, the Economic Policy Research Center (EPRC) and the Centre for the Study of

African Economies (CSAE), Oxford, UK conducted a study in the districts of Hoima, Iganga, Kiboga, and Apac on how to make the SMCs effective.

Dr. Ibrahim Kasirye, who was one of the researchers, says that findings indicated that the committees weren\'t considered in the management of some schools and yet they are important in the academic performance. He explains that in some schools surveyed, the committees had either been abolished with the introduction of UPE while or were ignorant of their roles.

“To make matters worse, many committee members were illiterate. The best value intervention is not in putting up classrooms and other infrastructure, but in enhancing the committees,” Kasirye says.

Yusuf Nsubuga, the commissioner of primary education admits community participation in school administration is minimal and there is need to improve, since school administrators have taken advantage of the laxity of the management committees.

“Absenteeism among teachers is high, schools funds are not put to the right use because they are not being monitored,” Nsubuga says.

According to Nsubuga, if the committees are to be relevant, they must operate within their jurisdiction. He explains in some schools, the committees interfere in the transfer of head teachers which causes friction with the school administration.