Health & Fitness
Publish Date: Oct 20, 2009
Newvision Archive
  • mail
  • img

By Raymond Baguma

AN international Netherlands-based non-governmental organisation (SNV) is to pilot the monitoring of teacher absenteeism in primary schools using an SMS-based service. The purpose is to improve management and accountability in primary schools.

The project dubbed, “cu@school” will be piloted in Kiboga and Mbale districts.

The SNV Uganda senior education adviser, Kees de Graaf, recently said majority of schools in the country have teacher absenteeism rates of between 20% and 30%, which is one of the highest in the world.

Graaf said Nokia phones with java software enables the mobile phone to download information. Electronic forms designed in form of questionnaires will be filled by a person responsible within the selected schools such as a head teacher.

The questionnaire with a number of issues such as lessons taught will be filled and sent from the mobile phone to a computer database at the district headquarters, and a report immediately generated.

However, Graaf said the system requires a steady supply of electricity to function well. He said the project was not intended to witch hunt absent teachers but to gather data on teacher attendance and the causes of absenteeism which is vital in assisting policy makers to address problems affecting education in Uganda.

With the teacher wage bill taking up over 70% of the national primary school budget, teacher absenteeism is the largest financial drain in the primary education system.

The Uganda National Teachers Union recently blamed teacher absenteeism on failure to pay back loans from commercial banks and money lenders. James Tweheyo said teachers hide after failing to pay back the money they borrowed.

A 2008 UNESCO report on Uganda, published by the International Institute for Education Planning, says teachers affected by HIV/AIDS are likely to take increasing period of time off work, while others also absent themselves in order to look after sick family members.

A 2007 survey by International Development Consultants of 401 schools in Uganda showed a decline in teacher absenteeism from 25% in 2001 to 21% in 2005 and 2006.

However, there is no specific data available on the prevalence of teacher absenteeism in Kiboga and Mbale.

Pupils who attend school receive less teacher-learning time, which has led to low quality of education.

According to SNV, teacher absenteeism also drains the funding to Uganda’s education budget. A countrywide 20% reduction in teacher absenteeism would be the equivalent of hiring 5,000 more teachers thus saving public funds.

The scheme is to be implemented in partnership with Makerere University’s Computer and IT department which has developed a platform called EpiHandy, which supports SMS-based data collection.

Data on teacher and pupil absenteeism will be captured from 100 schools in two districts that are to be enrolled under the pilot scheme.

“The information will make the dynamics around teacher absenteeism transparent and inform district and sub-district government officials for appropriate short, medium and long term action,” said Graaf.

The project will be implemented in phases, following the primary school academic calendar. Feasibility and planning took place between January and April this year.

Between November and December 2009, the ICT system for data collection will be tested for efficacy in order to carry out any necessary modifications.

The actual pilot phase will be implemented between February and September, to cover the first and second terms in the forthcoming academic year for primary schools.

The statements, comments, or opinions expressed through the use of New Vision Online are those of their respective authors, who are solely responsible for them, and do not necessarily represent the views held by the staff and management of New Vision Online.

New Vision Online reserves the right to moderate, publish or delete a post without warning or consultation with the author.Find out why we moderate comments. For any questions please contact

  • mail
  • img
blog comments powered by Disqus
Also In This Section
Diseases of the Affluent
City lawyer John Kisembo was a year ago advised to change his lifestyle or die. Thirty five year old Kisembo weighed 120 kilograms. He had high blood pressure, gouts, depression and was according to doctors only moments away from a severe stroke....
Steroids: Glitter on the surface, rusty health
Quite often, we have heard medals reclaimed from athletes based on allegations that they were under the influence of steroids (substances which mimic hormones that regulate and control how the body works)....
Sitting at the edge of your grave?
Many people suffer with back pain and it can be frustrating, especially if it affects one’s work and sex life. Many jobs require a lot of sitting, but have you asked yourself whether you are sitting right?...
How to burn midriff fat
Press-ups, skipping or bicycle riding for 40 to 60 minutes for three to ¬ five days strengthens the back and stomach muscles....
Laugh and lose weight
A study involving 45 adults showed that laughter can help with weight loss. Researchers found that a daily dose of a good long hard laugh that lasts 10-15 minutes increases energy consumption by 10 to 40 calories per day....
Dehydration a leading cause of diseases
Dehydration is a lot more than just not drinking enough water. The side effects of being dehydrated involve numerous body systems and symptoms can range from mild to life threatening....
Is Uganda ready for the pope's visit?
Can't Say
follow us
subscribe to our news letter