Ugandan Teachers Struggle to Impart Quality Education

However, a few teachers have shown innovations in attempting to improve quality of performance among both the pupils and teachers, both in primary and secondary schools, though only with support of individual schools.
10 Dec 2014 14:49

Audio 5

Over the years, Uganda's education has seen drastic fall in quality, though increased numbers of enrolments have been registered. With the introduction of Universal Primary Education and later on Universal Secondary Education, emphasis has been on quantity rather than quality. The 2014 UBOS Statistical Abstract puts the number of enrolment to 8,459,720 as at the end of last year. The figures for secondary schools put the numbers at 1,362,739. The two sections registered upward increment in total enrolments.

However, different findings put the performance at miserable rates. The 2013 UWEZO East Africa Report puts Uganda at 44% in numeracy, 47 at literacy and 38% when combined, compared to Kenya and Tanzania that had numeracy and literacy rates above 50 percent.

Much of the problems are attributed to teacher absenteeism, lack of learning materials, pupil absenteeism and a host of other problems. Low teacher motivation has also been an issue. The 2013 World Bank report shows that 84 percent of teachers want to quit their jobs.

However, a few teachers have attempted to improve quality of performance among both the pupils and teachers, both in primary and secondary schools, though only with support of individual schools.

Jane Mirember Kakande is a teacher at Buzaya Secondary School in Kamuli district. After realizing for some time that students didn't want to hand in their books for marking, she started a system called Gold Star Giant. Under the scheme, a student who handed in his or her book for marking gets a star. The number of stars increase with the level of scores a student has attained. She says though initially the students were reluctant, with time, they started appreciating it and now all students in her classes embrace the scheme. She teaches entrepreneurship in both ordinary and advanced levels. Mirembe says some of her colleagues in the school and even the neighbouring schools have adopted the system and are now using it.

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She says through the programme, students consult teachers and have their work corrected. She says over time classroom performances of these students have improved. Mirembe says the school is also engaging the parents of the students to address some of the challenges the students are facing. She says many parents also use the Gold Start Giant to determine whether their children attend classes or not.

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Another teacher that came up with an innovation to stop late coming among pupils and teachers is Susan Ngole, a teacher in Acokare Primary School, Otwal Sub County in Oyam district. She says most of the pupils in the primary schools would come late after being forced to do domestic work before going to school. She says teachers also did the same. She says being one of the longest serving teachers, she suggested that something had to be done to eradicate the late coming and came up with early morning remedial teaching. She says as teachers, they agreed that they should report to school before 7:00am. She says though the beginning was hard, teachers later on embraced it and finally it worked. She says before the programme started, assembly would even start after eight o'clock in the morning, but when the pupils and teachers started reporting early, things changed;

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She also says they have been engaging both parents and community leaders in addressing the problems that resulted into late coming of pupils. She says they found out that some of the roads are very bushy, scaring children from setting out for school early. Parents sometimes would deliberately keep children at home to do domestic work. She says through engaging both parents and local leaders, better community access roads were opened and parents started appreciating importance of sending children to school.

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She says putting up fellow pupils to monitor the arrivals of their colleagues also helped since it gave them more responsibilities. Ngole says they have not completely eradicated late coming in the school. She also says the performance of the pupils has improved as the school emerged the best in Oyam in last year's Primary Leaving Examinations;

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The schools these teachers belong to hope someday the Ministry of Education will adopt their innovations and use them all over Uganda.

For the time being, few schools ever see a school inspector. The school inspectors complain of lack of transport to carry out their duties.