Wednesday January 22 2014

Address education sector concerns

The World Bank’s funding to Uganda’s education system is set to end this year, a situation that could worsen the state of the country’s education sector.
In 2007, the government got a $375 million (about Shs937 billion) loan from the World Bank to be implemented over 10 years. So far, more than 5,000 primary school level officials have been trained and 60 per cent of the schools have been completed. But the government ought to step up its effort in addressing the issues around the Uganda’s education system.

The education support, which was mainly channelled through financial aid to support the reconstruction of northern Uganda was, nonetheless, stopped in 2012, following the Shs50 billion embezzlement scandal in the Office of the Prime Minister.

Key among the issues is the quality of education. The quality of Uganda’s education is still poor, posing a threat to the country’s long-term economic progress as outlined in Vision 2040. Performance in lower secondary education is still weak despite a $150 million post-Primary Education and Training project launched in 2009 to increase access to lower secondary education through supporting expansion of school infrastructure and improve education quality.
Although these resources were supposed to see to it that the quality and access to education improves in Uganda, the quality of output among Universal Primary Education schools, for instance, remains wanting.
For long, teachers have also complained about the poor pay in addition to the irregularities in which their salaries are paid.

In the 2012/13 financial year, the government increased salaries for primary school teachers by 15 per cent, and science teachers in post-primary education and training institutions received a 30 per cent increase in wages. The government, however, promised a 20 per cent pay raise for teachers this financial year and another 15 per cent next fiscal year. But it says, there is no money in the budget.

What the government should not forget is that the reality of achieving a skilled population as outlined in Vision 2040 highly depends on the quality of education in the country.
The government ought to prioritise teachers’ remuneration and the quality of education in the country or else opportunities for substantial economic growth will be lost.