About 20 percent of head teachers, teachers and pupils are estimated to be absent for at least two days in a week at Primary schools in Uganda, a draft report by the Directorate of Education Standards (DES) has shown.
Presenting a report on the quality of education in Uganda Abdallah Mutazindwa, the Director of Education Standards said that the primary education sector has in the last one year been characterized by inadequate and inefficient teaching and learning, resulting from absenteeism among teachers, head teachers, and learners.
The report by DES showed that low teacher motivation is attributed to low salaries, limited promotional avenues and lack of accommodation particularly in the hard-to-reach areas.
The head of education department in Uganda catholic Secretariat, Uganda Episcopal Conference, Fr. Dr. Lucian Arinaitwe (left) looks on as the Vice Chancellor of Mbarara University of Science and Technology, Prof. Obua Celestion (right) talks to the minister of Education and Sports, Jessica Alupo during the education review conference at Golf Course Hotel Kampala on 26 Aug 2015. Photo by Ronnie Kijjambu
"We noticed that most of the teachers are usually absent and deserting duty stations because they pay more attention to their part time jobs at the mushrooming private schools around the country," Mutazindwa said.
He recommended that the teaching profession be regulated as is with other professions.
"The ministry took on a lot of work. We spend a lot of resources on registration on teachers. For instance lawyers and engineers are not registered by the ministry of justice and ministry of works, respectively," he said.
In order to practice as a teacher, a qualified person is registered by the Ministry of Education and given a non-renewable certificate of registration.
Mutazindwa suggested that like other professionals, teachers should be given renewable practicing certificates, so that they are evaluated in order to find out whether they have achieved certain targets, before their certificates are renewed.
The Program Officer in-charge of Education in Uganda Joint Christian Council, Rev. Fr. John Byamukama (left) chats with the Director of Education Standards in the ministry of education and Sports, Mutazindwa Abdallah during the education review conference at Golf Course Hotel Kampala on 26 Aug 2015. Photo by Ronnie Kijjambu
"Normally when our teachers get the certificate of registration, they take the back seat and do not bother to improve their skills, because they know that they will not be evaluated again," he said.
"Other professions require people to have continuous professional development, and we want the same for teachers. Teachers should also be monitored to find out if they are meeting the targets before their licenses are renewed," he added.
Conversely, Benson Kule, the Commissioner for secondary education said that part of this is already being implemented by the Ministry, whereby Head teachers now sign performance contracts for one year, since the last financial year.
"We hope that this will reduce cases of absenteeism in schools, since head teachers are given targets which they must fulfill each year, before they sign other contracts," he said.
The new contracts require head teachers to monitor their teachers effectively and ensure that each of them brings an innovation to the education sector or in their schools.