We must value our teachers
Posted Friday, February 15 2013 at 02:00
For the sake of our children, there is need to start addressing problems affecting teachers as a priority.
The Iganga District deputy RDC was reported in this newspaper yesterday to have found teachers in a school under Universal Primary Education programme go without proper lunch. During an impromptu visit to Bumoozi Primary School in Buyaga Sub-county to assess its facilities, Mr David Bbale found teachers eating fene (jackfruit) as their lunch.
But even the fruits do not come that easy. Teachers either have to pool resources (Shs200) each and buy them or wait for Good Samaritan pupils to donate them one! This is absurd.
The government rightly applauds UPE, arguing that the programme has led to a gigantic leap in primary school enrolment. While primary school enrolment stood at about 2 million pupils before the inception of UPE in 1996, the number has since shot up to more than 8 million pupils currently. Fair enough.
The problem is that this soaring numbers come with a myriad of challenges. The teacher to pupil ratio (about 1:150 pupils or more in some cases), continues to raise concern as to whether the children actually learn or teachers in the congested classrooms.
Facilities in many UPE schools are substandard, inadequate or lacking altogether. For instance, the RDC found out that a three-classroom block in Bumoozi Primary School that had been built under the Schools’ Facilitation Grant, collapsed last year, forcing some of the classes to be conducted under trees. Besides, all the pupils in the school use only one pit-latrine.
For the sake of our children, there is need to start addressing problems affecting teachers as a priority. The government should urgently resolve the issue of the teachers’ perennial grievances about low remuneration, poor working conditions, and inconsistent recruitment, all of which remain crucial challenges in the education sector.
Mr David Basaleine, the school’s head teacher, summarised the plight of teachers’ thus: “Bwana RDC, life has become very difficult!”
The government should consider relaxing its opposition to UPE schools’ administrators charging pupils a fee to cater for teachers’ and children’s welfare. No teacher or child can effectively teach or learn respectively on an empty stomach. Let’s accord teachers the value they deserve.