Log in
Free: The Observer Mobile App - Exclusive Content and Services

Education sector lauds manifesto gains as budget day draws nigh

Education minister Janet Museveni

Education minister Janet Museveni

On May 12, the minister of Education and Sports and first lady Janet Museveni made a presentation of progress on the NRM presidential manifesto 2016-2021 at the Office of the President auditorium in Kampala.

This was part of several presentations during the manifesto week from May 13 to 24. She discussed the manifesto promises for the education sector, financing and key achievements and challenges in the implementation of the commitments. YUDAYA NANGONZI brings you highlights from each of the eight sub sectors.

The minister said government is committed to provision of equitable quality education but the sector is weakened by the limited resource envelope. During her presentation, for instance, she said the rapid increase in enrolment in schools is not matched with the requisite resources, mainly facilities and teachers.

“There is an inadequate resource envelope to construct a government secondary school in each sub-county and primary school in every parish. The dilapidation and deterioration of infrastructure in government education institutions is another challenge,” Ms Museveni said.

She added that the level of community participation is also still low in terms of school-feeding for school-going pupils. According to the ministry report, government has projected to increase financing of the Education and Sports sector in the financial year 2019/20 to Shs 3.285 trillion compared to Shs 2.15 trillion in 2016/17. This represents an increment by Shs 1.135 trillion. Here below is a breakdown of key achievements in the various subsectors.

PRE-PRIMARY

According to Section 10 (2) of the Education Act 2008, pre-primary (nursery) education is to be run by private agencies or persons to children aged from two to five years and financing of that type shall be a responsibility of parents or guardians.

Ms Museveni said the process of reviewing the Early Childhood Development (ECD) policy of 2005 is underway. This is meant to strengthen regulation and supervision of this subsector. There were plans in the manifesto to introduce ECD in Primary Teachers’ Colleges (PTCs).

“Under the revised Teacher Education Curriculum, we have made ECD compulsory in year one and elective in year two when one specialises either in ECD or upper primary,” Ms Museveni said.

She said at least 4,166 ECD caregivers have been trained at PTCs across 50 districts in addition to 45 master trainers and 400 trainers of ECD caregivers.

PRIMARY EDUCATION

This is one of the largest subsectors and comprises seven commitments including construction of classrooms, teachers’ houses and provision of instructional and scholastic materials. By end of FY 2017/2018, using School Facilitation Grant, the education ministry constructed 256 new classrooms in 45 districts while an additional 92 classrooms were renovated in 16 districts.

The ministry also expanded 145 primary schools that had less than three permanent classrooms by providing 933 classrooms using the Global Partnership for Education (GPE) grant to government. Ms Museveni said 138 schools have been completed and await furniture. In the FY 2019/20, some 23 primary schools have been identified for grant aiding.

Since July 2016, the ministry has not grant-aided any primary schools due to budgetary limitations, according to Museveni. On implementation of the policy for constructing one primary school per parish, government still has 1,135 parishes and wards without a public primary school as of March 2018. For primary teachers, while the manifesto has scored on construction of their houses, government is still struggling with enhancement of their salaries.

In her address, Museveni said there has been no salary enhancement for primary teachers in the last three years “because increment prior to FY 2016/17 put them above the pay targets in the pay policy approved by cabinet.”

Currently, the entry monthly salary for a primary head teacher is Shs 588,359 while a grade III teacher earns Shs 469,355 per month. Before the enhancement, the average salary for a primary teacher was Shs 280,000. Teachers united under their umbrella body; Uganda National Teachers’ Union (Unatu) are still demanding a uniform salary structure. Unatu insists that the sector has teachers with similar qualifications but earning different salaries.

SECONDARY EDUCATION

Effective FY 2020/21, Ms Museveni said, government will construct 115 new seed secondary schools. This time, she said, the ministry is building comprehensively complete secondary schools.

Each school will comprise six classrooms, a multi-purpose hall, staff houses for six teachers, an ICT laboratory, library and science labs. The estimated cost for each complete school is Shs 2bn.

Under the Uganda Intergovernmental Fiscal Transfers for Results program, 117 sub-counties that were found without a public secondary were given funds in the FY 2018/19 to kickstart the process.

Currently, three seed schools at various stages of construction are; Katikekile Seed SS in Moroto, Nyangoma Seed SS, Kyotera and Nyakatonzi Seed SS in Kasese. Government plans to construct a public secondary school per sub-county. The ongoing construction leaves more 428 sub-counties, town councils, and divisions without a public secondary school, according to March 2019 ministry statistics.

Meanwhile, the ministry is progressively phasing out public-private partnerships (PPP) in Universal Secondary Education. This followed a 2016 presidential directive to completely phase out the arrangement by FY 2020/21.

Under the PPP, government provides capitation grant of Shs 47,000 and Shs 85,000 per student, per year in O and A-levels, respectively.

“Phasing out of PPP in USE has enabled government to save Shs 36bn. Part of the savings will be used for grant-aiding community schools and incomplete infrastructure,” she said.

In a bid to address teacher-to-student ratios, 4,520 teachers have been recruited in the last three years. Another 3,620 positions for secondary teachers have been advertised. Of these, 1,945 are for science teachers and 1,665 for arts. Other achievements in this sub-sector are; reforming of the lower secondary curriculum with a rollout expected in the FY 2019/20, rehabilitation of traditional secondary schools and provision of science textbooks to improve teaching of practicals.

BTVET EDUCATION

According to the manifesto, the president pledged to provide every district with at least a vocational/technical school by end of 2021.

“As a sector, we realised that the commitment could not be achieved in the medium term because existing similar institutions are largely under-enrolled, understaffed and under-equipped,” she said.

She added that the ministry has now prioritized operationalisation of existing business, technical and vocational education and training (BTVET) institutions. The sector policy indicates that 15 per cent of admitted students should be females and persons with disability, but their enrolment is still low.  In January 2019, Cabinet also passed the technical and vocational education and training (TVET) policy, which provides for enhanced participation of the private sector to address skills gaps.

The BTVET competence-based curriculum for oil and gas course modules is now internationally accredited and 500 students are expected to graduate by the end of the project in 2021.

SCHOOL INSPECTION

To enhance quality and responsiveness to inspection reports, she said the ministry has adopted integration of ICT solutions into the inspection system. Currently, the system is being piloted in 60 primary schools in 10 districts to check head teacher and teacher attendance and teacher-time on task.

With the innovations, teacher attendance has improved from 70 per cent in 2015 to 85 per cent in 2018. She said plans to create a semi-autonomous inspection body were put on hold following cabinet’s decision on the rationalization and merging of government agencies.

HIGHER EDUCATION

In July 2016,  two new public universities became operational, bringing the number of public universities to eight, of which Lira University, formerly a constituent college of Gulu University, was built using Government of Uganda funds. Soroti University has also been constructed using government funds and is expected to open in FY2019/20.

“The operationalization of Uganda Petroleum Institute, Kigumba is steadfastly continuing. The administration block is complete, an oilrig simulator is being procured, and students’ accommodation being built,” reads the manifesto implementation report.

It adds that funds have been set aside to put in place a task force to spearhead the establishment of a constituent college of Gulu University in Karamoja. Through the Higher Education Students Financing Board (HESFB), 8,190 students have benefited from the loan scheme in the last five years to pursue 130 degree programmes and 76 undergraduate diploma courses mainly in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics.

Students with disability can access loans to pursue programmes in Business and Humanities. The report also highlights additional infrastructure in eight public universities and a few innovations within institutions of higher learning.

PHYSICAL EDUCATION AND SPORTS

As of February 2019, the report shows that construction of the National High-Altitude Training Centre in Kapchorwa is at 68 per cent completion level. Facilities include jogging track, artificial turf, six-lane running tracks, one hostel block, site roads and parking. Completion of phase one is expected in January 2020.

The ministry of Education has also made a formal application to the Finance ministry for construction of Akii Bua (Lira) and Buhinga (Kabarole) stadia using grants and interest-free financing from China.

The subsector also notes qualifications for AFCON in July 2019, She Cranes qualifications for world netball cup to be hosted in Liverpool this year, among other sports achievements.

SPECIAL NEEDS EDUCATION

For special needs, a few achievements have been highlighted. The special needs and inclusive policy has been merged with the non-formal education policy to create the national inclusive education policy.

Consultations on the draft policy are on-going. Other achievements are; revamped Mbale School for the Deaf, Laro and Salama primary schools, fitted hearing devices for 1,600 children and commenced construction for two teacher’s houses and two classroom blocks at Wakiso School for the Deaf.

nangonzi@observer.ug

Comments are now closed for this entry

betPawa