Kampala. A new East African survey shows that more Ugandan pupils are unable to read and count compared to their Kenyan and Tanzanian counterparts.
The findings contained in the third Uwezo East Africa report on numeracy and literacy dubbed: “Are Our Children Learning?” indicates that little has changed in the learning outcomes since the regional assessment in 2010.
The assessment was done among 326,610 pupils of between six and 16 years from 150,000 households across the three countries.
Also, 10,000 public schools were considered using Primary Two level numeracy and literacy tests.
The results show that 64 per cent of Kenyan children passed both one literacy and numeracy test, Tanzania was ranked second with 48 per cent while Uganda lagged behind after it scored 36 per cent.
Ms Goretti Nakabugo, the Uwezo country director, told journalists on Wednesday that the learning outcomes have stagnated.
Ms Nakabugo said one out of five East African school children complete primary school without basic literacy and numeracy skills.
“There is negligible improvement and this is quite worrying to us the public and the three governments. In Uganda, despite the thematic curriculum policy, our children can’t even read in their mother language,” Ms Nakabugo said.
Mr Anthony Mugagga, a teacher trainer at Makerere University, urged government to prioritise early childhood education to ensure that learners grasp basic skills.
“We ignored the crucial sector which is early childhood education and development. It is being handled by people who have failed because entry requirement to train as a nursery or primary teacher is any candidate who has attained at least six passes. So what do you expect of such person?” he asked.
Mr Yusuf Nsubuga, the director basic education in the ministry of Education, said the biggest challenge was few and incompetent teachers, adding that government was planning to recruit more teachers to replace those who have left the service.
Out of 366 districts surveyed, Uganda’s best is ranked 82 while the top 81 districts are from Kenya and Tanzania. Overall, Mbeya District in Tanzania was the best as Kenya dominated the top 10 positions while Uganda had seven out of the bottom 10 places.