By Taddeo Bwambale
With hardly two years left to the 2015 deadline, experts are concerned that Uganda may not meet the target of increasing adult literacy by 50% by 2015.
Uganda is one of 164 countries that signed a pledge at the World Education Forum in 2000, to achieve the Education For All target by 2015.
The commissioner for community development and literacy in the ministry of gender, Everest Tumwesigye this afternoon disclosed that the target was unlikely to be achieved.
“Preliminary findings have shown that Uganda is unlikely to meet the target the adult education target under the goal to achieve Education For All by 2015,” he said.
He made the remarks at a dialogue in Kampala to review Uganda’s progress in implementation of adult education programme.
Tumwesigye, however, said the Government had initiated an ‘acceleration programme’ to expand adult literacy to more areas and improve the quality of teaching.
Statistics show that at least 73% of Ugandans can read and write. The Government would need to increase the figure to 90% over the next two years to meet the 2015 target.
Under the Goal, special consideration is given to children, youth, adults and marginalised groups who either did not attend formal education or those who dropped out of school early.
Government established the Functional Adult Literacy Programme in1992 but experts blame the absence of a national policy for the failure to meet the global target.
Kasiita Ismail, the national coordinator of the Uganda Literacy and Adult Learners’ Association said: "We have an adult population of ten million people in this country who cannot read or write. But there is all indication that it is not given priority because there is neither a law nor a policy to address the problem."
Elizabeth Nakiboneka, an expert in literacy training observed the need to allocate more funding for “The strategies put in place by the ministry to expand adult literacy are not sufficient, yet this is a core area for Uganda’s development,”
Tumwesigye said the Government had put in place a five year Adult Literacy Strategic Plan (2011-2015) plan has been reviewed.
He explained that the National Adult Literacy Policy had been finalized and was awaiting cabinet approval.
He also said the Government had set up an inter-agency forum to coordinate adult literacy work done by ministries, civil society & private sector.
He also explained that that the programme was faced with limited funding, inadequate number of instructors and literacy materials, and inadequate training facilities.
"Most of us learn under trees or churches, with no place to keep learning materials," Lukia Kakembo, one of the adult learners who started training in 1997.
She appealed to Government to align the adult literacy training to formal qualifications recognized by education institutions.
"Adult learners need to acquire a certificate recognizing a level of literacy competencies equivalent to formal schooling," she said.