By Francis Kagolo
About 10,000 teachers quit government-aided schools each year mainly due to poor pay, a report by the ministry of education and sports has revealed.
Presenting the report at the annual sector review workshop on Tuesday, Dr. Nassali Lukwago, permanent secretary ministry of education, said the growing attrition rate compromises the quality of education.
Over 6,900 of the total number are from primary schools while 3,060 quit secondary schools, opting for greener pastures in private schools and other lucrative businesses.
The teachers' attrition rate currently stands at four percent per annum in primary schools and five percent in secondary schools, according to the 20th education and sports annual review report.
A big number of the teachers resign while others are dismissed after absconding.
A separate study conducted by the ministry also showed that 60% of government primary teachers are not satisfied with their work conditions and remuneration.
The dissatisfaction rate is highest in western Uganda where about seven in 10 teachers are unhappy and lowest in the eastern region where half of them are frustrated.
"Propensity to quit the job is high: only 16% of primary teachers would like to remain in the classroom within the next two years," the diagnosis of teacher issues in Uganda study, conducted in 2011, showed.
This comes a few days after teachers countrywide called off their strike over the Government's failure to increase their salaries by 20%.
Dr. Yusuf Nsubuga, director basic and secondary education, said the high resignation rate has kept the number of government primary teachers insufficient to meet the targeted pupil to teacher ratio of 45:1.
Besides, the report also shows disparities in availability of teachers across districts, with some teachers in districts like Amudat handling classes of over 100 pupils.
Rural-based schools were identified as the most affected.
"Half of the districts will need specific targeting in terms of recruitment. Over 20 districts with a pupil teacher ratio of over 70:1 are in critical need of teachers," Nsubuga said.
He said the problem is exacerbated by teacher absenteeism which, though decreased from 24% in 2004, still remains high at 17%.
According to the report, each teacher in a government-aided primary school spends at least two working days in a week away from school.
This year's education sector review conference was held at Hotel Africana, Kampala under the theme: "Teacher recruitment, deployment, absenteeism, retirement, professional mobility, motivation and payroll management."
The reports called for increased funding to the sector to raise teachers' salaries and implement their scheme of service for career progression and motivation.
The conference was attended by ministers Jessica Alupo and Dr. J.C. Muyingo and the Irish ambassador Donal Cronin, who assured participants of more funding from education development partners to the education sector, especially vocational education.