Public schools grapple with understaffing, old buildings

Mityana Woman MP Joyce Bagala (left) and residents clean one of the  classrooms  at Naama DAS Primary School last week. PHOTO/JESCA NABUKENYA

What you need to know:

  • District authorities say many public schools are rotting away while some private schools have been converted into different businesses.

A good number of public schools in Mityana Municipality are still grappling with understaffing, shortage of classrooms and dilapidated buildings despite reopening today.
Local leaders say this has greatly contributed to poor academic performance in many public primary schools implementing government’s Universal Primary Education (UPE) scheme.

 Mr Faustin Mukambwe Lukonge, the mayor of Mityana Municipality, said during the Covid-19 induced lockdown, some classrooms at schools such as St Charles Lwanga Kabule Roman Church Primary School and Butega Primary School had their roofs blown off by rainstorms.
“If you do a census in Mityana District, a big number of pupils come from Mityana Municipality, but our schools are in a sorry state and this contributes to poor performance,” he said at the weekend.
“For example, in the  2020 Primary Leaving Examination results,  one of our schools Nakibanga Church of Uganda Primary School was ranked the best in the Central Division yet it had only one First Grade,” he added.
Mityana Municipality was the eighth among 10 worst urban performers in 2020 PLE results with only 366 first grades. The district was ranked 77 out of 146.

While inspecting some schools in the area last week, Mityana District Woman MP Joyce Bagala said many public schools are rotting away while some private schools have been converted into different businesses.
“The schools are in a very bad shape raising questions about where learners are going to study from,’’ Ms Bagala said, adding: “We ask government to swiftly intervene and support those.’’
Mr Edward Semitti, the head teacher of Naama Das Primary School, said the school was constructed in 1963 with three classroom blocks and has not had a facelift over the years.

“The government had promised to send us some funds to enable renovations before schools reopen, however, we haven’t received the money,” Mr Semitti said.
The Rt Rev Wilberforce Sseguya, the head teacher of Mityana Junior Primary School, said the school, with a population of more than 800 pupils, only has 10 teachers.
“I will be happy if the local administration works with us and we mobilise parents to contribute some funds towards purchasing desks and facilitating the recruitment of at least five private teachers,” he said.

UPE was introduced in 1997 and a decade later, Universal Secondary Education was rolled out to enable eligible primary school graduates enroll in tuition-free secondary and vocational training institutions.
However, both schemes are still affected by delayed release of funds, congestion and high student-to- teacher ratio and unclear feeding programmes for both children and teachers in schools. 
Although the government sends Shs8,000 as a capitation grant per child under UPE scheme annually, schools have on several occasions complained that they receive less money after deducting bank charges. Schools also receive an additional block grant of Shs100, 000 per term.

Grant distribution
 According to the UPE Capitation Grants expenditure guidelines, 50 percent of the grant is supposed to be used on instructional materials, 30 percent on co-curricular activities (sports, clubs and others).
 Fifteen percent is allocated for school management (school maintenance, payment for utilities such as water and electricity) and 5 percent on school administration. In 2012, the government also unveiled a similar scheme dubbed: “Universal Post-O’ Level Education and Training Programme”, but the programme is also facing similar challenges.

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