Monday, December 20, 2010

How IPC will deal with public education system

Margaret Wokuri examines how the IPC government will empower the masses and change society through provision of quality education.

There is no doubt that education is one of the key sectors but again one of those neglected sectors in Uganda. With an enrollment of about eight million children in Universal Primary Education (UPE), Uganda had a golden opportunity to emerge as one of the leading countries with well trained human resource development in the next few years. Unfortunately, this chance has been thrown to waste as the entire public education system is being handled by the current government.

Achievements in education can be measured in terms of enrollment, persistence and attainment. There has been a lot of emphasis on enrollment while totally neglecting the other equally important attributes of persistence and attainment. The various studies done on UPE indicate that out of every 100 children that enter P1, only 23 will finish P7.

Ugandan children are also attaining very little in terms of literary skills. In 2009, only 6% of the children who sat PLE exams passed in grade 1. Twenty four (24) percent) passed in third grade majority failed their PLE. The Uwezo annual learning assessment report 2010 entitled “Are our Children Learning?” revealed that 85% of all children sampled in P7 in the 27 districts surveyed across the country couldn’t adequately solve at least two numerical division sums of primary two; about 72% of the sampled P7 children could hardly understand a story text of P2!

Other challenges in UPE include teacher absenteeism, crowding in classes, high pupil teacher ratio, and hunger while at school and lack of basic reading materials. At a higher level, many children who would have attained university education are left out because they cannot afford the high cost of university education.

The IPC government recognises that education is a key component in development as it empowers citizens to increase their productivity and attain high stands of living. IPC government will therefore put in place remedies aimed at motivating and enabling both teachers and learners to achieve the desired teaching and learning goals respectively.

IPC government will provide a motivation pack to our teachers by paying Shs. 400,000 per month as minimum for a primary school teacher to match the rising costs of living. In addition, there will be provision of housing or housing allowance where actual housing is not practical. Housing of teachers will start with areas that need affirmative action like Northern Uganda and Karamoja and revisit the role of parents in the education of children.

IPC proposes to set an enabling learning environment through improvement of school sanitation and hygiene facilities, provide quality learning materials and subsidize exercise books, pencils and pens for pupils in primary schools as well as compulsory school feeding funded for all primary and secondary schools.

To reduce congestion in classes, IPC government will upgrade and expand school infrastructure and keep the teacher pupil ratio at a maximum of teacher pupil ratio of 45:1. IPC government will also increase the number of quality of modern technical schools across the country to cater for those who drop out of post primary schools.

The IPC government will set up a student loan scheme to help those that are not able to afford tuition at higher levels of learning. State house scholarships that are a reserve for the privileged few will be abolished and replaced with a one that will be competed for at regional levels to allow children from poor families to access higher education. Finally, IPC government will review and reform of our educational system to make school leavers’ qualification more relevant to the job market and the real needs of society.

Ms Margaret Wokuri, director for communication and publicity at the IPC campaign bureau wrote this article in consultation with her organisation’s leadership

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