FEBRUARY 18, 2010: Quality of Education Could Drop Further

Education Quality Could Drop Further, Says Envoy
SOURCE: Monitor
By Isaac Khisa

Kampala — The quality of primary education in Uganda could drop further if academic and infrastructural problems are not addressed quickly, a donor representative has warned the government.

Speaking during the sixth annual education sector review workshop, which ended in Kampala yesterday, Mr Jeroen Verheul, the Netherlands Ambassador, outlined the pupil-teacher ratio, infrastructural facilities and involvement of communities in the running of schools as some of areas that need attention.

"There was a classroom shortage of 50,000 in 2003," Mr Verheul said. "But in 2010, with pupil enrolment of seven million, a classroom stock of 89,000, and a pupil classroom ratio of 1:50, there is a classroom shortage of 51,000 and there is a huge risk that the population growth will worsen the situation even more," he said.

Mr Verheul noted that teacher training is wanting and textbooks for the thematic curriculum that was launched four years ago for pupils in primary one to four are not available.

According to the Education Ministry's report for 2007-2009, the Pupil Teacher Ratio (PTR) shows an upward and downward trend in the period under consideration. The PTR were 1:53, 1:50 and 1:52 in 2007, 2008 and 2009 respectively compared to the government target of 1:15.

However, the up country districts registered the highest number of PTR with Oyam districts leading with 114 pupils per teacher, followed by Arua and Nebbi Districts with 106 and 101 per teacher respectively.

Holding Accountable

The diplomat implored the government to ensure that all officials are held accountable for shortcomings in their respective areas, saying, "We will hold ourselves and each other accountable for achieving agreed results and this time round, there will be a price to pay for non-delivery."

Finance Minister Syda Bbumba acknowledged that the delayed disbursement of funds due to bureaucratic hitches were frustrating the sector and promised that with effect from the next financial year, funds for the Universal Education Programme will be sent directly to the schools.

Primary schools have been receiving government grants through the districts since the inauguration of UPE in 1997.

The three-day workshop was aimed at assessing the progress and challenges facing the sector as well as analyse the Budget Framework Paper for the financial year 2010/2011 to 2015-16.