Schools seek reforms in primary education
What you need to know:
- Among the proposals presented before the commission on Thursday, Ms Barbra Kwebiiha, the head teacher of St Athanasius Primary School, Kisenyi in Kampala suggested the abolition of professional fees paid by teachers.
Following the ongoing public hearing exercise by the Education Policy Review Commission, the education stakeholders, including learners, teachers and parents have recommended that the commission makes a raft of changes in primary education.
Among the proposals presented before the commission on Thursday, Ms Barbra Kwebiiha, the head teacher of St Athanasius Primary School, Kisenyi in Kampala suggested the abolition of professional fees paid by teachers.
“Payment of professional fees of Shs150,000 for teachers is not necessary. Why should they really bring that money to us? Teachers, we have lived a bad life. This is like a punishment to teachers when you look at how much we get,” Ms Kwebiiha said.
She also suggested that tax policies for schools be revised.
“We do pay taxes but some of them, we shouldn’t pay, for example property rates. The city council comes here and charges even the smallest house for askari (security guard). Others like offices, kitchen, toilets, classrooms, dormitories and teachers’ quarters are also charged differently,” Ms Kwebiiha said.
She suggested that the council should put into consideration the nature of the school, audit accounts, and stakeholders while determining the taxes.
Mr Michael Waako Wadhaba, a teacher at the same school, proposed the introduction of vocational subjects at primary schools to enable learners acquire skills that will help them start income-generating projects.
Ms Rest Namusobya, also a teacher, proposed the establishment of a committee to prevent learners from dropping out of school.
She added: “The government has gone ahead to introduce UPE and USE, now when students finish their Primary Seven, Senior Four or Senior Six, they are held up somewhere because of finances. Since the government has got a great hand in education, they should open up affordable universities, especially in remote areas to cater for these students at a lower cost,” she said.
Ms Agnes Mugisha, the head teacher of Nakivubo Blue Primary School, called for change in assessment of learners, saying the Ministry of Education should introduce special examinations for people with special needs.
Teachers also expressed disapproval of a new Ministry of Education requirement that primary school teachers must be degree holders.
In an interview with Saturday Monitor last year, Mr Jonathan Kamwana, the commissioner for teacher education training and development at the Ministry of Education, said all teachers must be degree holders. However, those close to retirement age will not be required to upgrade.
A 2020 baseline survey by the Ministry of Education established that of the 360,000 teachers in the country, 180,000 are diploma holders or below and of these 126,000 are grade 111 while 65,000 are diploma holders.
The teachers said this will not work out given the fact that most of them are from a humble background and might not get money to take them to the universities to upgrade.
“When you look at the salary we get, it is really very little and to attain university education, it costs a lot. We now have families and other responsibilities surrounding us. So, when you tell me to upgrade my level of education to a degree level, it is something I can’t do as of now,” one teacher said.
In 2007, the government introduced a thematic curriculum in lower and upper primary schools in order to make education more accessible and relevant to the learners’ everyday lives. In this curriculum, learners must be taught in their languages in the first three years of primary school and then after they transit to English in the next class.
However, teachers said this is not relevant since their mother tongues are not examined by the Uganda National Examination Board (Uneb) in Primary Leaving Examinations (PLE) at the end of their primary school studies.
The chairperson of the commission, Mr Amanya Mushega, declined to give a comment before the commission finishes its exercise.
However, at the end of the exercise, the findings and recommendations will be submitted through the ministry for consideration by the Cabinet to develop a new White Paper to replace the current 1992 government White Paper on Education done by Prof Ssenteza Kajubi.
Other proposals submitted by teachers, parents and pupils are increase of capital grants for each learner, increasing facilities in schools for people with disabilities, emphasising practical lessons, changing class time to 8am to 1pm, and allowing time for co-curricular activities and abolition of holiday classes, among others.
In May 2021, the Education minister constituted the Education Policy Review Commission to inquire into the effectiveness and relevance of education policy to achieve the education needs in the country.
According to researchers, Uganda’s literacy rate increased from 71 percent in 2006 to 73.9 percent in 2021, which is close to that of Kenya, which has an increase to 78 percent in 2021 from 72 percent in 2008.
Similarly, Tanzania’s literacy rate also increased from 67 percent in 2010 to 80.3 percent in 2021.