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CSOs call for review of Universal Primary Education

By Wilson Manishimwe

Added 2nd September 2019 10:38 AM

According to civil society, more focus should be on skilling children in entrepreneurship and vocational areas.

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Twikirize (extreme left) with representatives from different CSOs in one of the groups' discussions (Photo by Wilson Manishimwe)

According to civil society, more focus should be on skilling children in entrepreneurship and vocational areas.

KAMPALA-A section of Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) have asked the government to review Universal Primary Education (UPE) with identifying achievements, weaknesses, and challenges so that appropriate reforms are taken.

They said this during CSO Regional Local Government budget consultative preparatory meeting that took place in Kampala. 

Organised by Civil Society Budget Advocacy Group (CSBAG), the event was attended by a number of CSO representatives from the different regions of the country.

According to civil society, more focus should be on skilling children in entrepreneurship and vocational areas.

“We have been having UPE for the last 20 years; it has delivered on more enrollment numbers especially girl children which is good. However, we have seen that the emphasis has been put on enrollment not the quality of education; what we are seeing is an influx of so many young children going to school without adequate preparation, Jeff Wadulo, the CSBAG Parliamentary Liaison Officer said.

According to Wadulo, there are several challenges facing the universal education programme which among others include poor infrastructure, lack of scholastic materials and inadequate teacher numbers.

“The dropout rate has been so high which means those who manage to get to secondary schools, try so hard. President Museveni acknowledged that UPE had not delivered as per expectations; he actually said that if you have children take them to private schools,” said Wadulo.

In 2016, Uwezo Uganda carried out Learning Assessment and the major findings include scanty number of children who could ably read comprehension challenges among others.

According to the report, three out of ten pupils between Primary Three and Primary Seven could read English and do division.

In Primary Three and Seven, only two out of 10 could read and understand an English story, and things do not get any better.

“Between Primary Three and Primary Seven, 56 out of 100 could read and understand a Primary Two-level English story in urban areas whereas 35 out of 100 living in rural areas could read and understand a Primary Two-level English story,” read part of the report.

Lois Twikirize, the deputy executive secretary at Uganda Joint Christian Council (UJCC) explained that the problem of lack of school feeding in universal education schools which affects their children’s performance.

She also said some parents have ignored their role in educating their children, leaving everything to be done by the government.

“We are seeing it as a challenge, imagine a child keeping at school hungry.  We think when they review, things will change; my experience has been that UPE schools perform poorer than private-owned schools,” said Twikirize.

The executive director for Gulu NGO forum Geoffrey Okello said literacy is the biggest contributing factor to low performance. According to  Okello, school management committees have not done much in ensuring that teachers do their work, and that’s why absenteeism cases are rampant in UPE schools.

“Performance of many schools in Northern Uganda hasn’t been good. If governance and school management committees are trained on proper governance, the pupils’ performance can be boosted,” said Okello, wondering why UPE schools perform poorer than private schools when the latter’s teachers are less paid.

Simon Byamukama, the executive director Let Us Save Uganda (LUSU), a non-governmental based in Kabale said government schools used to perform well until the introduction of universal education.

“I remember during our time before UPE and Universal Secondary Education (USE), government schools could perform well but now the same schools perform poorly. I think the government doesn’t put a lot in this education, it seems to be reluctant, more emphasis should now be put on imparting skills to pupils,” said Byamukama.

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