By Yazid Yolisigira, via Daily Monitor
A new study carried out to assess the quality of education in the districts of Mayuge and Iganga has revealed that cases of teachers and pupils absenteeism in government-aided primary schools stand at 34 per cent, the highest in the country.
The study was conducted by the African Population and Health Research Centre (APHRC), in collaboration with Iganga Mayuge Demographic Surveillance System, a local NGO. Conducted in 82 government and private schools between July and August 2014, the study shows that at least 34 per cent of the pupils in government schools did not report to school per day.
While releasing the report to stakeholders in Iganga last Thursday, the APHRC project manager, Mr Njora Hungi, said most of the absentee pupils were from poor households.
“We went to homes of these children and found out that some of them had been told by their parents to go and offer cheap labour, while others had no pens and books, among other reasons,” he said.
The survey, which targeted Primary Three and Primary Six pupils, revealed that literacy levels are still very low, with Primary Six pupils in government schools scoring less than 50 per cent in Mathematics and English. Their counterparts in private schools scored higher marks in both subjects.
Levels of teacher absenteeism in government schools also stood at 34 per cent, while the figures for private schools stood at 16 per cent, with the biggest culprits being female teachers, who cited mostly illness, domestic responsibilities and lack of accommodation near schools.
The report also revealed that teachers were on average teaching 11 lessons per week instead of the 30 stipulated by the Ministry of Education.
Stakeholders, including chief administrative officers (CAOs), district education officers (DEOs) and Resident District Commissioners (RDCs) from the two districts called for concerted efforts to improve the quality of education. Iganga CAO Maira Mukasa called for the introduction of refresher courses for teachers, while Mayuge RDC Badru Ssebyala called for the introduction of patriotism training for teachers. Others called for improvement in teachers’ pay, and strengthening of schools’ inspectorates.