Experts propose major reforms in education

Students attend classes at Kakungulu Memorial Secondary School in Kibuli, a Kampala suburb, after schools reopened on January 10. Photo / Abubaker Lubowa  

What you need to know:

  • In a raft of proposals submitted to the Education Policy Review Commission (EPRC) chaired by former Education and Public Service minister Amanya Mushega, the stakeholders want pre-entry examinations for Primary One enrolment and pre-registration examinations for candidate classes banned.

Education stakeholders in the country, among them teachers, school managers and owners, business people and experts, have proposed the abolition of boarding education for children.

In a raft of proposals submitted to the Education Policy Review Commission (EPRC) chaired by former Education and Public Service minister Amanya Mushega, the stakeholders want pre-entry examinations for Primary One enrolment and pre-registration examinations for candidate classes banned.

They also demanded that Education officials should not own schools to avoid potential conflict of interest, and that no student be discontinued over poor academic performance, except on disciplinary grounds.

In a renewal of one of the recommendations of the 1992 Prof Ssenteza Kajubi White Paper on Education, the individuals who submitted their views to EPRC through memoranda said tuition charged by private schools should be regulated.

President Museveni appointed the Amanya Mushega committee to gather public representation on how Uganda’s education, largely an adulterated replica of what departing British colonialists left, should be reformed to meet the demands of the future.

The submission of memoranda ended on Monday, this week, and the committee is expected to put together a draft that will form their collection of public opinion through face-to-face meetings.

The outcomes of these consultations, or the findings and recommendations, are to be submitted through the Ministry of Education for consideration by Cabinet to develop a new White Paper on Education to replace the 30-year-old Prof Kajubi report, many of whose recommendations remain unimplemented.

The Education Ministry spokesman, Dr Denis Mugimba, who doubles as the spokesperson of the Amanya Mushega committee, yesterday confirmed that they had received the education reform proposals, which will be used to generate draft document for public consultations.  

“The Constitution stipulates that a learner should join primary one when he or she is 6-years-old. Now people are wondering what a nursery kid is doing in the boarding section,” he said of the demand to abolish boarding section for pre-primary.

He added: “These children are detached from their parents, community and their care-givers at an early age. They cannot wash their clothes, bathe or take care of themselves. The government has been asked to stipulate an appropriate age these learners should join boarding.”

In an interview with Daily Monitor yesterday, Dr Gorreti Nakabugo, the executive director of UWEZO, a non-governmental organisation, said parents should take their children to the boarding section when they are at least in their mid-primary and are able to take care of themselves. She, however, said the government should not disregard the special circumstances that are unavoidable for certain parents.

“Children should join boarding at a time when they have received enough care and nurturing from their parents. Parents should not leave their responsibilities to only schools. However, times have changed where we have many single mothers who are forced to take their kids to boarding school. All these should be considered,” she said.In one of the proposals, experts want the years a learner spends in school – from pre-primary to university graduation - reduced from the current 19 to 12 years.

Some individuals, according to the Commission, proposed that Uganda adopts the Kenya education system where learners spend two years in pre-primary, eight years in primary, four years in secondary and Four years at university as opposed to Uganda’s where pre-primary takes three years, primary and secondary education seven and six years, respectively, while the shortest degree course lasts three years.

Dr Nakabugo supported reducing the duration of study, proposing six years for primary education and a year of pre-primary used to prepare learners.

Parents also want different local languages taught in metropolitan schools instead of forcing the minority to speak the vernacular of the majority, with Dr Mugimba citing Luganda language.

Dr Mugimba said Uganda Manufacturers Association specifically asked that the teaching of French, Arabic and Kiswahili to be incorporated in the curriculum as mandatory subjects to widen the opportunities for youth.

Proposals

• Ban boarding for early age

• Ban pre-entry, regulation examinations.

• Regulate tuition for private schools

• Strip Ministry of Education officials of the right to own schools to avoid conflict of interest

• Streamline local languages to be taught in schools

• Regulate religious affiliations in schools

• Review assessment

• Reduce the years one should spend at school

• Reduce subjects offered by all learners

• Set professional standards for teachers

dmukhaye.nationmedia.com

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