By Eddie Ssejjoba and Culton Nakamya
Officials from the Ministry of Education and Sports were shocked to learn that teachers in some schools in Nakaseke district sleep in classrooms.
They were told that pupils who report to school early have to wait outside until teachers remove their bedding and sweep the rooms before lessons begin.
During a meeting with school management committees (SMCs), Parents, Teachers' Associations (PTAs) and the head teachers of primary, secondary schools and tertiary institutions at the district headquarters on Friday, the officials could not believe many teachers turned classrooms into their bedrooms at night.
The head teachers said lack of teachers' houses was one of the challenges affecting performance in the Primary Leaving Examinations.
Led by the director for education, Hajj Yusuf Nsubuga, the officials heard that some teachers walk for over 7kms to their duty schools, missing out when it rains and most times getting to school late.
"As an option, some teachers have come along with their bedding and turn classrooms into bedrooms when pupils leave," a parent who refused to be named, reported.
The ministry organized the dialogue to explain government policies, get feedback from different stakeholders for a way forward in efforts to improve education standards in rural areas.
The district education officer, Stephen Batunudde said school infrastructure in many areas was inadequate.
Nsubuga however said the country was facing acute shortage of Science and Mathematics teachers after those available went for greener pastures yet the ministry has not been permitted to recruit more teachers to fill the gaps.
The minister of information and national guidance, Rose Namayanja who is the Nakaseke district Woman MP, donated a cow to Ellen White Bright Future that emerged best in last year's Primary Leaving Examinations with 34 candidates in division one and Kaloke Primary School under UPE that got eight pupils in division one.
She appealed to parents to contribute funds for their children's lunch but cautioned head teachers against chasing away children whose parents default.
"I believe the children can perform very well but non-supportive parents are the problem. Let us stop lamenting about the poor standards of our schools. It is me and you to change it. How do you expect children to pass when you don't cater for their lunch?" she asked.
She advised LCs to pass bylaws compelling parents to feed their children at school.