Government might find it hard to re-align the education sector due to lack of competent teachers resulting from the continued closure of schools, experts have warned.
While the closure of schools has managed to contain the spread of COVID-19, educationists are worried that the country might suffer shortage of competent teachers to match the available due to the prolonged closure of training institutions.
Rose Akaki, the Principal Busubizi Primary Teachers College, says that apart from student teachers failing to carry out the mandatory school practice, they cannot also learn via online platforms like other institutions due to lack of the necessary facilities.
She says that the only option they are left with is encouraging their students to continue revising books.
She says that some students are starting to lose hope in the profession due to the delayed reopening.
Dr. Betty Akullu Ezati, the Dean of the School of Education Makerere University, says that the way to go after the lockdown is to ensure that teacher training institutions guide learners and do away with teaching to avoid dependency.
The Assistant Commissioner Teacher Education in the Ministry of Education and Sports, Jonathan Kamwana explains that considering the impact of the pandemic on the education sector, the ministry has a big challenge when it comes to manpower. He says that it will take time for the learners to catch up with lost time due to the lockdown.
Educationist Fagil Mande says that across the board, the graduates are still lacking on skills for survival, saying that the COVID-19 lockdown is making the situation worse. In 2016, Uganda National Examination Board (UNEB), released a nationwide assessment report dubbed the National Assessment of Progress in Education (NAPE), which intended to test the literacy and numeracy skills of teachers.
The results showed that eight out of every 10 primary school teachers who had qualified could neither read nor solve basic primary-level mathematics questions. Tutors at Primary Teacher Colleges (PTCs) were not any different. Less than 20 per cent could interpret graphs in similar exams, while only 5.7 per cent of final-year students passed.
In 2019, the government came up with a National Teacher Policy (NTP) to provide a framework to professionalize and standardize the teaching profession and enhance the development and management of teachers in the country. However, given the lockdown, the government cannot implement the reforms that were introduced to improve the quality of teachers in the country.
According to Dr. Jane Egau Okou, Commissioner Teacher Education and Instruction at the ministry of education, the government is trying its best to make the new teacher policy work for improvement in the profession.
Egau says the lockdown has been a lesson to the sector to reflect on many things that will help to improve the quality of teachers in the country. He however says that the abrupt lockdown has greatly affected the progress of teacher education.