OP-ED

Universal Primary Education (UPE) schools suffer big blow over teachers’ scarcity

By Richard Mugisha

There is a move going on to paralyze Universal Primary schools in Uganda which I would like to put to everyone’s attention. Remember these schools help almost 85% of the local population in Uganda. But as I talk now many of these UPE Schools which have seven classes are left with an average of four teachers per school.

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The big problem we have as a country is that we have many intellectuals who don’t make research. But the rate at which teachers in primary schools on government pay roll are applying for early retirement is alarming.

When we survey our districts that used to have a greater number of teachers in Uganda, you find that half the number have applied for early retirement and their request have been granted. Some teachers who have not reached early retirement age have just absconded the service.

Districts that have been affected most are; greater Wakiso, Masaka, Mbale, Jinja, Soroti, Gulu, Arua , not to mention the small districts like Kampala, Buikwe, Kalangala, Kiboga and Kayunga and this means the whole of Uganda is at stake. Where are the teachers going? And why are they leaving the profession? Who is going to teach the children of the poor?

What is amazing is that all the stake holders in the Education fraternity are aware of this but they can not bring it to the attention of the president. This is because when UPE and USE fails, they will be the first beneficiary because many of them have invested alot in their own private schools.

Both Speakers of parliament have their own private schools, the state Ministers of Education, many of them have their own private schools, many members of Ugandan parliament own schools , and schools are their side business, not to mention other cabinet and state Ministers. Many presidential advisors also own schools.

Now who will give the president the right information about the state of the government schools in Uganda. That’s why many of the government schools in Uganda are in a sole state, bad shape, filthy environment to mention but a few. These so called stake holders in the Education system can not inform the president what is on the ground. And these are the very people surrounding him, advising him as far as education matters are concerned.

When you look at the budget for UPE schools, it is too small to run a functional school. That’s why some teachers work minus lunch at school, salary is too small and when the headteachers ask parents to contribute something to supplement the budget, it is a taboo in Uganda. That’s why these poor schools can not even hire supplementary staff to help those classes without teachers. The headteachers just look on because if they try to ask for money from parents to supplement the staff , you find that RDCs , DISOs , GISOs , come and arrest them.

So the few teachers who are on the station are over worked to bridge the gap of those classes without staff. They do it on the daily basis and have no hope when more staff will be recruited.

When the headteachers go to their respective Local governments , the D.E.Os and D.I.S’s are also stuck. So these headteachers have worked under too much stress which has no solution Remember at the end of it all the government demands better results from these pupils. The headteachers also transfer the stress to the teachers who are under staffed. When the teachers demand a better pay, the government says all primary school teachers are arts teachers who don’t deserve anything.

So the teachers have endured enough to work in such an environment and when it cames to renumeration which is too little , they said enough is enough and left the teaching profession to try else where.

When you look at that situation critically, you ask questions like:
Will the teachers policy help this nation? If so when will it help if all teachers are going out of the system?
Remember since the implementation of the Teachers policy in 2019, teacher training colleges stopped passing out fresh teachers. But who will finish his / her senior six and pass well to go to the university and study primary teaching when they see those in the system suffering like that and moving out at a greater speed.?

That is something to think about.

  • Let’s pray for our country Uganda but very soon we are going to see schools without a single teacher in our UPE Schools
  • Is the Ministry of Education aware of what is the UPE Schools?
  • Is the Ugandan parliament aware of the situation in the schools?
  • Why are all state Ministers of Education quiet about this situation?

Research analysis was carried out By Teacher Mugisha Richard with Wakiso district as a key study area practically by the writer.

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