Ahead of the start the new school term, the ministry Education has warned it will crack the whip on head teachers and teachers who abscond from work.
According the ministry’s director of basic and secondary education, Robinson Nsumba-Lyazi, a head teacher is and must be the first inspector of a school but many are not playing their roles.
Similarly, many teachers continue to absent themselves and even those who are present, they’re not actually teaching.
“Some of the head teachers are becoming lazy and irresponsible which is causing a problem. We have for long been talking ill about our education system but this is the time to bite,” Nsumba-Lyazi said.
“Head teachers are paid a lot of money and given allowances to do their work. This is a year of action and they must be ready for any sanctions once found guilty,” Nsumba-Lyazi said.
He made the revelations while opening a three-day training for teachers, head teachers, district education officers among other education officials held at Silver Springs hotel in Bugolobi.
The training, which ends today, is organised by STiR Education, a non-governmental organisation that seeks to re-ignite intrinsic motivation among teachers and within education systems.
Nsumba-Lyazi said the training comes at a time when government continues to allocate more resources to the education sector but this money is not properly utilised due to head teacher/teacher absenteeism.
“Can you imagine that teachers go to class without lesson plans and schemes of work? How will such a teacher produce results? This is horrible! Some schools especially in rural areas are disorganized to the extent of not having class time tables. The person who is supposed to remind the teacher to do the right things is the head teacher who is also absent from school,” Nsumba-Lyazi lamented.
A countrywide sample study carried out by the ministry of Education last year found that teacher absenteeism ranks at 45 per cent while that of head teachers stands at 20 per cent. This, Nsumba-Lyazi, said accounts for loss of up to Shs 72 billion annually.
“We are going to compile a list of all people who are not performing well and display them. Moreover, the reduction in teaching time negatively influences the overall quality of education,” he said adding that government will tolerate only effective and efficient teachers and head teachers in its schools.
Lydia Watuulo, the deputy head teacher Masaba SS in Sironko, agrees with Nsumba-Lyazi that to a greater extent, some head teachers are not doing their roles yet they are paid handsomely by government.
“In most cases, you will go to a school and it is their deputies doing all the work. They come to school only to sit in offices, a reason why many things are not going on well in schools,” Watuulo said.
Also an education leader with STiR Education, Watuulo told The Observer that whenever they visited schools to engage in teacher motivation sessions, head teachers were absent from school without genuine reasons.
She, however, blamed the laxity of head teachers and teachers on district inspectors that have not done much to inspect schools.
“I think inspectors are overwhelmed with their work. In the past, the schools were few but many have mushroomed. In Sironko alone, we don’t see district inspectors in schools and you wonder where they go and which schools they monitor. Ideally, district inspectors should be in school at least twice a year but the reality on ground is outrageous,” she said.
Currently, there are about 5,000 inspectors spread across the country. According to Nsumba-Lyazi, each district is allocated four inspectors which he concurs are insufficient. He believes that working with head teachers as the primary inspectors of their schools will improve learning outcomes.
Irene Wanyenze, a Coordinating Centre Tutor (CCT), in Sironko defended some head teachers, saying they are overwhelmed with various district and school activities which hamper their inspectorate role.
“Sometimes, there are many district education meetings and they are forced to leave the schools. Some schools have few teachers and a head teacher is also a classroom teacher. How can this person supervise the whole class and other teachers?” Wanyenze asked.
She added that some head teachers in rural schools are not substantively appointed and work without extra allowances, thus finding inspection an extra load.
“If government talks about improving inspection and is serious about it this year, it must have strategy to first improve on the livelihood of the teacher/head teacher and inspection will be smooth,” she said.
Eva Namukwaya, the country director STiR Education, said they are going to benchmark on the 2017- 2020 education sector plan to support government by building the capacity of head teachers, CCTs and DEOs for the next five years.
“Our motivation will be intrinsic looking at the teacher’s mindset and classroom behavior. Once the teachers are supported to do their work, the children will be able to achieve and absenteeism will reduce in schools,” Namukwaya said.
STiR Education targets government primary and secondary schools in at least 46 districts this year.