Public spending to the sector should be kept at a pace with enrollment progress
By Tusiime Roline
On May 30, the World Bank advisor on Global Education Practice, Mourad Ezzine, recommended that government scraps Primary Leaving Examinations (PLE). He among others gave as his reasons the need to save money but also that pupils were not learning. Thus, a call for automatic promotion to secondary schools and make secondary education part of the compulsory foundational education. Whereas this recommendation sounds out of context and may have challenges, it serves as a wake up call for us to focus on increasing infrastructure for secondary education.
According to the Department of International Development (DFID) 2018 report on behalf of Ministry of Education and sports, expanded access to and improved quality of secondary school Infrastructure is one of the key ingredients to the progress of education and economic development in Uganda.
School infrastructure type, conditions, decency and space contribute to learning environment and determine smooth running of any social system including education.
Some of the existing infrastructure are not to the standard as per (UBOS 2018), most of rural secondary schools 72% have insufficient number of classrooms, sanitation facilities, adequate computer laboratories, libraries among others, to absorb the growing and actual demand.
Out of 1,167 old sub counties, 311 sub counties don’t have private or government secondary schools yet government is supposed to construct a secondary school in every subcounty from 2019 State of Nation Address.
The Government of Uganda signed US$ 100 Million grant agreement with Global Partnership for Education on August 2014, to improve the school environment including school facilities. However, much more is needed since over 12,000 government schools across the country are in a dire need of reconstruction and renovation. There is also poor transition rate from primary to secondary school which is attributed to insufficient number of secondary schools to absorb the growing demand associated with schooling reported by World bank 2019 report.
Education policymakers need not only focus on school learning outcomes, but put in consideration the outlook of the education system in infrastructure and education materials. This will ensure high quality infrastructure that facilitates better instruction and improves student outcomes.
The challenge of infrastructure in secondary schools can be solved by putting emphasis on provision of secondary school per subcounty. Also, find out the specific school buildings needed for the effective secondary education system, their availability and adequacy. This is done by carrying out need’s assessment before implementation of the school infrastructure projects.
Secondly, change in financing has to be inevitable. Public spending to the sector should be kept at a pace with enrollment progress to cater for new classrooms, laboratories, new schools and provide other supporting infrastructure in an efficient manner.
Creating environment where people are able to task leaders and ask for services. This goes hand in hand with capacity building and creating awareness amongst communities. This will enable them know the services they are entitled to and thus demand for accountability.
The available School infrastructures should be kept in good shape and efficiently managed. Also, Policies that accommodate demand pressures without attention to access, equitable allocation and quality can lead to the vicious circle of poverty and stagnation in the growth of human capital. It also leads to inability to increase productivity of capital and labour and further declines in Education. Thus, the government should take deliberate steps to provide adequate school buildings if objectives of secondary education programme are to become a reality. School infrastructure should be guided by clear policies to improve their availability, quality and adequacy.
The writer is a research assistant, Great Lakes Institute for Strategic Studies (GLiSS)