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Universities, Colleges Disregard Changes in Teacher Education Policy

Effective this year, the Ministry of Education and Sports, through the 2019 National Teacher Policy, phased out lower qualifications for teachers in favour of degree programmes. According to the policy direction, the ministry also stipulated that the teacher degree programme will be running for four instead of the normal three years.
Student teachers from Kibuli PTC showing some of the instructional materials developed for school practice

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Several universities and other tertiary institutions which offer different programmes in teacher education are waiting for formal guidelines on how they will be implementing the new changes in the sector. 

Effective this year, the Ministry of Education and Sports, through the 2019 National Teacher Policy, phased out lower qualifications for teachers in favour of degree programmes. According to the policy direction, the ministry also stipulated that the teacher degree programme will be running for four instead of the normal three years.                    

As a way of implementing the policy, the government halted the enrollment of students to be trained as teachers from O’level. Subsequently, all primary teacher colleges and national teacher colleges have not enrolled learners when the institutions of higher learning opened on November 1, 2021.

However, both private and public, universities and other tertiary institutions are still enrolling learners under old arrangements and are calling in more for the next intake in January and May. In the same development, universities have not yet revised their respective bachelor programmes to meet the new standards. 

Prof Fred Masagazi-Masaazi, the Principal of the College of Education and External Studies at Makerere Univesity says that they have started handling internal processes but at the moment the new students will study under the old arrangement. He says that Makerere has also established collaboration with Uganda National Teacher Institute-UNITE which is currently being prepared to handle issues of teacher education to see how the transition period can be handled.   

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Prof Masaazi also highlighted that the college has made a simple survey among the continuing student teachers and found out that they were not aware of what is happening. Musaazi says their college is currently writing a proposal on how this policy can be popularized and better understood by different stakeholders for better implementation.    

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Dr Enock Barigye, the Dean of the Faculty of Education, Arts and Media Studies at Bishop Stuart University, says that although they are aware of the national teacher policy, they have not received any formal guideline on how the situation can be handled. He notes that without guidelines to this effect, the university and its management could not review their programmes and are, as such, enrolling students based on the old arrangement and programmes as they were accredited.  

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Prof Muhammad Mpezamihigo, the Vice-Chancellor of Kampala International University-KIU, says that universities need more time to review their respective education programmes and curriculum.  

“We have heard that the policy has been rolled out. We have obtained copies and started preparing for the new changes. but this is not an event but a process it will take time for our institution to review the programmes currently being offered,” Prof Mpezamihigo said.  

At YMCA comprehensive institute in Wandegeya, students are still enrolled for certificate courses in early childhood education and development even though the National Teacher Policy halted the enrollment of O’Level leavers in different teacher education programmes effective this year. A new cohort of learners has already been received to start their first semester with the institution advertising for the course in the coming intakes in 2022.

Dr Herbert Mukasa, the principal of YMCA Comprehensive Institute, says that whereas the government offered a clear transition arrangement for PTCs and NTCs, there was nothing for other institutions yet they all participate in the teaching of teachers.    

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Several parents and learners are equally green about the development in the sector. for instance, our reporters talked to three students who have just enrolled for the certificate in nursery teaching at YMCA and none seemed to know that under the new policy all teachers are supposed to be degree holders.  

“They advertised for the course and we enrolled,” Jackeline Nakamatte,  one of the students said adding that; “I thought the suggested degree programmes are for primary and secondary school teachers.”  

Dr Mukasa acknowledged that some of the learners are not yet aware of the changes. He however added that the institution is trying as much as possible to brief the student on the new developments.   asked whether the changes won’t affect the students who have just enrolled and those they are calling for future intakes in 2022, the principal argued that the policy gives a period of ten years for all teachers to upgrade.   

“As the ministry prepares proper guidelines on the transitions, we hope that we can still have more than three intakes under the current arrangement. when you calculate, they will have time to upgrade before the degree proposal is effected,” said Dr Mukasa.    

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Although several officials from the Ministry of Education declined to comment on the matter, URN has learnt that there are a number of statutory and legal issues that are needed to be streamlined by the ministry before the policy is fully enforced. For instance, the National Teacher Act that will enact the National Teacher Council which is expected to be the supreme body on matters of teacher education is not yet in place.

In recent interviews, the Ministry of Education spokesperson, Dr Denis Mugimba, noted that the ministry presented the preparing principals and memorandum of the bill to the cabinet. According to guidelines, once the cabinet approves them, the ministry can go on to prepare a bill.   

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