The Uganda National Students' Association (UNSA) has asked government to avail them with Shs 3 billion so they can procure mathematical sets for school going pupils in primary and secondary schools.
Their demand stems from a survey conducted in 81 schools in 34 districts in eastern Uganda in which majority of the pupils in candidate classes were sitting examinations without the mathematical sets.
The survey conducted from June 3 for 24 days by UNSA, found that over 87 per cent of pupils in candidate classes in eastern Uganda districts did not have mathematical sets, an important component in examining mathematics, physics and geography.
The survey covered 34 districts in Karamoja region, and eastern regions of Busoga, Bugisu, Sebei, Bukedi, and Teso. Jothan Yamureebire Burobuto, the UNSA nantional president said on Monday that students' leaders were shocked to find pupils sitting mathematics examinations with no single one with geometrical requirements.
"There’s one issue that really struck us. In the 81 schools that we visited, we were very interested in our S.4 and S.6 candidates. We also visited some primary schools. We found that 81 per cent don’t have a mathematical sets - S.4 and S.6 and these are the candidates that are preparing to sit for exams. We think this is a very very unfortunate scenario. The eastern region has been ranked the worst performing region…And among the so many reasons, we found that there’s need for scholastic materials. But we were so disturbed that a mathematical set, this is something that government can do. Just Shs 3 billion," said Burobuto.
He further says that the students' leaders are not to relent on issues that affect students' quality of learning when the government is at leisure with excessive expenditures.
"We therefore call upon government, just as you’re looking for Shs 185bn or whatever billions to provide security for MPs, just as you’re paying these honourable members over Shs 20 million and some other public servants, we hear they receive over Shs 40m per month, we’re requesting for just Shs 3bn," added Burobuto.
On June 29, President Yoweri Museveni directed the Finance minister Matia Kasaija to urgently procure bullet-proof cars with "sharp shooters" from the Uganda People's Defence Forces (UPDF) to protect lthe ives of the 456 MPs against what he termed as "terrorists".
Burobuto says while this would cost over Shs 400bn, the students require only Shs 3 billion to be equipped with mathematical sets to help improve their performance. UNSA also accuses government of always coming short on its promises when it comes to the education sector.
"Let us provide our candidates in S.4. S.6 and P.7 with at least a mathematical set. You [government] failed to provide [sanitation] pads, you promised laptops you did not provide them. How do we talk about competition, regional integration when primary kids in Rwanda and Kenya are using tablets. In Uganda, your S.4 candidates don’t have mathematical sets. How do you talk of skilling the nation""
Ismail Mulindwa, the ministry of Education and Sports assistant commissioner in charge of private schools, says it is the responsibility of parents to provide for pupils with scholastic materials such as mathematical sets.
"Now after providing the sets, tomorrow the parents will demand for calculators...But we already provide textbooks…for sure me I would not be in support of this arrangement…it is not even even budgeted for. Where will the money come from?" said Mulindwa.
He notes that government operates on a budget and that for now it is not in its mandate to provide these sets.
"The budget is limited it cannot provide for these mathematical sets. For sure government cannot provide everything. We need to tell our parents, the importance, the relevance of these sets. How do you do mathematics without a set?," said Mulindwa.
Mulindwa says some parents are not providing some scholastic materials to their children simply because they are not sensitized on the value of these school requirements. He adds that government should embark on sensitization campaign to enable parents realize the importance of some of these items in order to fulfill their obligations.