New report highlights pain teachers go through

Florence Nakijoba, a Chinese language teacher, interacts with students during a lesson at Entebbe Comprehensive Secondary School in Wakiso, Uganda, April 5, 2022. PHOTO | XINHUA

What you need to know:

  • During the study, a total of 148 teachers were interviewed. Each teacher was asked to think of a teacher who was doing well. 

A new report compiled from a two-year study, has revealed the pain teachers go through in the line of duty and puts emphasis on issues that support their wellbeing.  

The report titled: “Be Well, Teach Well; Understanding the wellbeing of teachers in Uganda” indicated that teachers’ wellbeing is much more than the absence of illness, stress or even feeling happy; it is about the flourishing in a holistic manner.  

The study released yesterday was conducted in the districts of Kampala Kamwenge, Lamwo, Moroto, and Wakiso by the University of Notre Dame, Save the Children in Uganda and Luigi Giussani Institution of Higher Education. 

The issues affecting teachers wellbeing include interpersonal skills as well as settings and systems that allow teachers to succeed. The teachers also highlighted the skills and preparation that are required for the teaching profession (ethics and teaching methods) as being critically important for wellbeing. 

School administration is also important to teacher wellbeing, especially when administrators are supportive, approachable and respectful. 

External motivation also helps teachers to feel valued and respected by the school administration and community.

The study conducted between 2019 and July 2021, however, did not talk about remuneration as an essential part of teachers wellbeing. 

Currently, Arts teachers in public schools across the country are on a sit-down strike over what their leaders called discriminatory pay rise. Trouble started after the government increased salaries of Science teachers and told their Arts colleagues to be patient.  The strike that started on June 15 has paralysed government schools in the country.  

Methodology 

During the study, a total of 148 teachers were interviewed. Each teacher was asked to think of a teacher who was doing well. The research teams based in Kampala, Washington DC, and New York analysed the data, identifying the most relevant factors that contribute to the wellbeing of teachers. 

Overall, teachers noted that peer cooperation, classroom methods, training, being prepared and responsibility played a key role in helping a teacher in doing well.  

“...teacher wellbeing is supported by a positive attitude towards teaching, and strong teaching techniques that stem from supportive relationships with colleagues and students, the belief that one has the ability to teach effectively, and the feeling that one’s personal and professional needs and expectations are met,” the report states. 

According to the report, there is need to better understand the wellbeing of teachers and its implications on the teaching and learning nexus.

It also states that understanding that there are multiple factors that contribute to the teacher wellbeing is an important first step in creating more comprehensive approaches for supporting teachers. 

Cooperation among teachers was the most frequently mentioned factor as well as the most highly ranked by participants. 
Strong teaching methods were commonly prioritised by teachers working in a refugee context.   

Teachers who are doing well can be recognised by their trainings, how they design and conduct lessons, and how they prepare before entering class.

Key findings 

About 63 percent of teachers had a low sense of wellbeing while 37 percent had high sense of wellbeing.  

About 59 percent said their intrinsic motivation (doing an activity for its inherent satisfaction rather than for some separable consequence) was low while 41 percent said intrinsic motivation kept them going despite facing challenges such as lack of instruction materials and high teacher- pupil ratio. 

The research was conducted among 148 primary school teachers. Uganda  hosts about  330,000 refugee children of primary school level , 78 percent of whom are enroled in school, according to Office of the Prime Minister  and  the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (2020  report). 

The senior education advisor at Save the Children Uganda, Mr Edison Nsubuga, said factors that affect teachers range from poor pay, high pupil, teacher ratio, lack of accommodation, and training opportunities. 

“It is now a requirement by all teachers to be graduates but when you look at the money they get and the responsibilities that they have, it is one of the areas that they need to be supported for better results,” Mr Nsubuga said. 

“Most times their wellbeing is not taken care of despite the great role they play.  Because of that, most teachers have lost interest in their profession,” he added.  

The Ministry of Education and Sports said on average the pupil-teacher ratio is 1:50, but in some schools, it is 100:1. 

According the Ministry of Education and Sports and United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco) report of 2014, the Teacher Initiative in Sub Saharan Africa (TISSA) assessment, nearly 50 percent of Ugandan teachers were dissatisfied, of which 84 percent wanted to leave the profession within two years 

“We need to support teachers so that they can be proud of their profession,” Mr Nsubuga said.

Govt reacts

While giving a keynote address, the director of Programme Operations at Save the Children, Mr  Lawrence Tiyoy, said: “The high pupil-teacher ratio coupled with high commodity prices has increased stress levels among some teachers to the extent of going for industrial action with hope of being attended to.”  

The director of Basic and Secondary Education in the Ministry of Education and Sports,  Mr Ismail Mulindwa, said the report will be reviewed.

He said the findings in the report are important in explaining why teachers  are not performing as expected. 

“The report will be reviewed by the different sections of the ministry including Monitoring and Evaluation department and see how those issues can be addressed…” Mr Mulindwa said.   
Mr Mulindwa explained that there is a significant relationship between a teacher wellbeing and a student wellbeing in the process of learning.  

“If you don’t look at the wellbeing of a teacher, then you know the welling of a learner will be compromised and at the end of the day, you may not achieve what you intend to achieve in terms of learning,” he said, adding, “teacher wellbeing affects the quality of instruction, their ability to form meaningful relationships will learners and their capacity to create an inclusive classroom environment. The government is committed to progressively address teachers wellbeing basing on the available resource envelop.” 
 

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