The bachelor’s degree in Education will take four years starting with 2021. This was stated by Dr John Muyingo, state minister for Higher Education, while opening the first East African Teacher Education Symposium (EATES 2021) at Makerere University on November 10, 2021, writes JOHN MUSINGUZI.
Muyingo told the two-day symposium running under the theme: ‘Challenges and opportunities in teacher education’ that this was one of the 12 policy implementation standards of the National Teacher Policy launched in 2019.
Previously, universities offered the course for three years. Asked what will happen to universities which had already admitted students under the old arrangement, Muyingo said the ministry is discussing how to handle the matter.
Further asked how beneficiaries of the students’ loan scheme will handle the cost of the shift to four years, he said the additional cost is a matter of the sponsor, in this case the Higher Education Students Financing Board (HESFB).
SIX-YEAR CABUTE PROJECT
The symposium was organized by Capacity Building for Research-Based Teacher Education (CABUTE), a six-year (2021 – 2026) project funded by Norad through the Norwegian Programme for Capacity Development in Higher Education and Research for Development (NORHED) II programme.
CABUTE is designed as collaboration between professional teacher educators and researchers in Uganda and Norway, to respond to the urgent demand for capacity development in the higher education system of Uganda.
The principal investigator, Steinar Sætre, said the project is a partnership of Kyambogo University, Makerere University, Uganda National Institute of Teacher Education (UNITE), University of Bergen (the host), and Western Norway University of Applied Sciences.
It specifically concentrates on four subjects in teacher education: English, General Education, Mathematics and Music. It will help build five networks in teacher education; around the four subjects and University Pedagogy.
Paul Muyinda Birevu, project co-investigator, said CABUTE will sponsor teachers of teachers at master’s, doctoral and postdoctoral levels, since there is no way a holder of a bachelor’s degree can teach a student of bachelor’s degree. More than 80 percent of tutors in National Teachers Colleges are said to hold just a bachelor’s degree.
The symposium had three topic areas: the role of indigenous knowledge and learning in teacher education; digitalisation of the education system and its implication for teacher education; and teacher education for empowerment.
Birevu said the objectives of CABUTE include: strengthening the quality and relevance of postgraduate teacher education and research programs and methods in selected subjects; strengthening postgraduate teacher educator education and research systems in the selected subjects; increasing competence and capacity of higher education faculty and teacher educators; improving institutional small-scale infrastructure and equipment for education and research; improving gender equality and inclusion of marginalized groups in teacher education and research in selected subjects; and increasing availability of opportunities for lifelong learning among teacher educators.
NATIONAL TEACHER POLICY 2019
Hence Muyingo hailed the project for being timely and assistive in the training of teachers to fit the implementation of the new teacher policy. He said the policy was one of the recommendations from a 2014 Unesco-supported comprehensive study on teacher issues in Uganda.
“[The study] identified a number of teacher issues affecting the quality of education in Uganda, and I believe some of these are cross-cutting in the region. These issues included the under-professionalization of teaching as a profession, inadequate quality assurance and standards, shortage of science teachers, low academic entry requirements into the teaching profession, inadequate teacher training, low teacher motivation, and poor working conditions, among others,” Muyingo said.
He listed the four specific objectives of the National Teacher Policy as to: streamline teacher management for better productivity, discipline, retention and motivation; strengthen pre-service and in-service teacher training so as to enhance competencies to effectively deliver quality learning outcomes and leadership at all levels of the education cycle; standardize teacher development, qualifications and practice across all levels of education; and streamline the integration of cross-cutting issues into all aspects of teacher training, management and practice at all levels.
The minister mentioned 10 of the 12 key policy sifts brought about by the National Teacher Policy 2019
1. The minimum entry qualification to teacher training is Senior Six or its equivalent. The implication is that there will be no more admission of S.4 leavers to teacher training courses. Implementation starts in 2021.
2. Pre-entry assessment of prospective teachers will be undertaken by Teacher Training Institutions to assess their attitudes and commitment to teacher training and to the profession.
3. Minimum qualification for teaching at all levels of education (pre-primary, primary, secondary, tertiary) is a bachelor’s degree in Education. This means that all current teachers and teacher educators need to upgrade within a period of 10 years of transition provided for in the policy, and also all curricula have to be upgraded.
4. All teachers will be adequately equipped with 21st century skills. Teacher training curriculum and delivery is enriched to equip trainees with the 21st century skills such as effective communication, problem-solving skills, critical thinking, collaboration, creativity, risk-taking and digital literacy skills, among others. Teachers are to embrace new pedagogies and transform pedagogical practices aimed at achieving better learning outcomes; and they will become lifelong learners, facilitators of learning, designers of learning environment, and mentors.
5. The bachelor’s degree shall last four years. Trainees will spend three years at the teacher training colleges, and the 4th year shall be dedicated to internship.
6. All teachers who meet the requirements of the profession will be enrolled on the Roll of Teachers to Practice by the National Teacher Council. The current practice of registering teachers by a department in the ministry will stop as soon as the Council is established.
7. Continuous professional development is to become compulsory to enable all teachers keep up-to-date. Teachers will be re-registered every two years based on the relevant continuous professional developments undertaken.
8. All heads of education institutions shall undertake compulsory training in educational leadership and management.
9. The policy provides for specialization in three career pathways, namely: teaching, management, and specialist (curriculum, inspection, etc.) after the basic training as a graduate teacher.
10. Teacher remuneration and incentives will be progressively addressed to ensure teachers are motivated, their professional image boosted, their working environment improved, and they have clear career prospects.