Govt should revisit World Bank advice on teachers

Friday July 12 2019

Fabiano Okware

Fabiano Okware 

By Fabiano Okware

I read with dismay World Bank’s advice to government regarding teachers’ (see: “Building teachers’ houses not sustainable,” New Vision, June 3).

The World Bank’s argument is that it is an ambitious programme for government to construct and rehabilitate more schools countrywide to address the shortage of classrooms and provide housing facilities for teachers. It says will attracts high capital costs and significant recurrent expenditures that require sustainable financing and cost-effective mechanisms. The World Bank report also proposes scrapping of Primary Leaving Examinations (PLE), abolition of class repetition and privatisation of poorly performing schools.

For sure these are some of the shortcomings of donor funding as it pushes the receiver/beneficiary to bend low to accept any advice due to strings attached! Available records indicate that the World Bank contributes the bulk of Uganda’s education sector funding.

However, it is important that the World Bank endeavours to access research findings in educational institutions of learning in Uganda so as to understand the factors that contribute to poor/low academic performance at nearly all levels of education in the country - primary, secondary, tertiary and university!

For example, I can share with you my research dissertation findings submitted to Uganda Management Institute (UMI) in May 2007 titled: ‘Teacher-work-related attitudes and the performance of primary pupils in Katakwi District.’ The teacher work-related attitudes investigated were levels of job satisfaction, job involvement, organisation commitment and teachers’ work mood in raising performance of their pupils.

The measurement of performance was in terms of number of pupils passing in Grades I and Grade II, pupils’ participation in class, progressive assessment from one class to the next and number of repeat and dropout cases. Part of the findings were that teachers always start classes late and end early because a teacher has to travel distances back home. This leads to loss of productive time. There was, therefore, need to provide accommodation to avert such a loss.

To raise academic performance in the education sector, teachers as key stakeholders, should have positive attitudes towards their work. When employees’ positive work attitude towards the organisation are congruent with organisation’s positive attitude towards employee, that employee stays and channels their energy for improved performance.

Therefore, government as the employer, should create a conducive environment that will allow teachers to carry positive attitude in regard to their work, hence improving academic performance in the education sector. Positive job attitudes help predict constructive behaviour to direct effort to improve performance.

The work of Prof Kajubi (1967), is also worth remembering. That apart from the unsatisfactory salary, teachers are no longer commanding the social status commensurate with the importance of their work. Total package is very important to a civil servant to enable the employee to meet their economic obligations, which contributes to increased positive work attitudes of job satisfaction, job involvement, organisational commitment and work moods, hence enhancing academic performance.

Therefore, accommodation for teachers is very essential to motivate teachers. In my view, the World Bank’s proposals can be likened to treating symptoms instead of the disease.

The challenge with all our education institutions is related to the management of institutions resources! Resources imply requisite human, financial, equipment, information and materials. The most critical of these is human, who are the teachers, who must be motivated to carry out their work diligently. From Hertzberg’s view on motivation, both satisfiers and dissatisfiers must be present for employees to perform.

Also my research findings at the PhD level hinged on factors impacting performance of training institutions in a developing country such as Uganda, in particular individual, institutional and external factors. Teachers’ get motivated when their employer, in this case government, provides accommodation for them.

While the Education ministry Permanent Secretary Alex Kakooza mentioned that the suggestions have already been discussed, I still pray that the Ugandan team should put up a spirited and objective reasons to halt such a drastic move! Part of the discussion should have been whether there had been consultation with key stakeholders at the grassroots, in particular the teachers, parents just as I did carry out my research. The outcome of such discussion should form the basis upon which the World Bank should present proposals to government!

It is very important that the technocrats in government liaise with education institutions so as to access research reports to help them critically evaluate proposals of the donors. Solutions to some of the problems in the country, including the education sector, have been provided by researchers in the sector.

Doing so will help us direct resources towards improving productivity other than again discussing on issues where solutions have already been prescribed.