In Summary

Lack of motivation is shown by the high rate of teacher absenteeism in Uganda. According to the World Bank report, 58 per cent of teachers are not in class on any given day – one of the highest rates in the world.

The Uganda National Examinations Board (Uneb) last week released last year’s Uganda Certificate of Education (UCE) 2018. The results show an increase in the number of candidates – from about 326,000 in 2017 to over 330,000 last year. Even better, more girls sat UCE exams. According to Education minister Janet Museveni in her remarks during the release of the results, at this rate, the number of girls completing S4 could equal boys in the next two years.

Although these are positive developments, still our education system faces many challenges. For instance, emphasising quantity without looking at quality may be misleading. Good or quality education is more than just increased enrolment. The 2018 World Development Report of the World Bank showed that most learners in Uganda are not actually learning. Pupils of Primary Two could not read a single word or a short sentence. This is absurd.

But when the same group was tested on numeracy, eight out of 10 could not perform a simple two digit subtraction. Worldwide, only India scored worse than Uganda. Worse still, this is not the first report shedding a dark light on the quality of Uganda’s education. In 2016, UWEZO, a non-governmental organisation, found out that three out of 10 pupils between Primary Three and Primary Seven were unable to read an English story or do divisions. The World Bank report blames the poor quality of education on unskilled and unmotivated teachers, unprepared learners, poor school management and inadequate resources. It is not only the government’s responsibility to ensure quality education. Teachers, parents, school management and the general public too have a role to play.

Society should change its negative perception of the teaching profession. Parents want their children to become doctors or lawyers, but not teachers. Unlike in the developed world, the teaching profession in Uganda does not attract the best performers. We cannot expect our young ones to excel when they are not taught by the best.

Lack of motivation is shown by the high rate of teacher absenteeism in Uganda. According to the World Bank report, 58 per cent of teachers are not in class on any given day – one of the highest rates in the world. Teachers’ pay should be linked to their performance. No teaching, no pay. Such performance contracts can considerably bring down teacher absenteeism. Parents too have to do their part.

They should address children’s preparedness to study. Often, children are sent to school without having the basics to perform well, such as food. The Education minister should be commended for rallying parents to feed their children in school by giving them packed lunch.
The quality of education must be taken seriously if we are to produce young people with the skills needed for the employment opportunities of the future.
William Yeka,
[email protected]