A new learning assessment report shows that primary education in Uganda is churning out half-baked learners. Many will rush to point fingers at the Universal Primary Education (UPE) as the cause of this problem.
But the report does not exonerate private schools. The Uwezo report, an initiative of the Uganda National NGO Forum, says UPE and private schools are equally not doing well to help the children acquire the basic competences for a primary school pupil.
This shows that there is a common problem with the primary education system and the problem might not necessarily be UPE.
And, it is not only Uganda whose education is being questioned. Another regional Uwezo report, which was released recently, also revealed that there is a crisis in the education sectors in Kenya and Tanzania at primary level. Poor quality education in primary schools is an issue that cuts across all East African Community (EAC) member countries.
The findings of the Uwezo report present an opportunity for the member states to collectively address the problem under the auspices of the East African integration. The EAC states have identified the harmonisation of the education curricula, standards, assessment and evaluation of education programmes as a priority issue in the integration. This might help planners come up with a relevant primary education curricula for the entire region.
A common language will be crucial in implementing a successful education curricula suited to address the basic challenges of primary education in the region. Experts view introducing Kiswahili in primary schools as the key starting point.
With the deepening East African integration, scholars and language experts warn that partner states where Kiswahili is not well-routed stand to compromise their chances of benefiting from the integration.
A child born in Tanzania speaks Swahili as soon as they learn to talk. The same happens for a child born in Kenya. However, a child born in Uganda is likely to encounter Kiswahili at an older age or not at all. Kiswahili is the most effective mode of communication today for over 100 million people in East Africa.
If any partner country is to benefit from the East African integration and if their education products are to be relevant, they must expedite the teaching of Kiswahili in schools at an early age. In the build-up to the integration, studies have put Kiswahili as the future language when the integration climaxes with a political federation.
Arthur Baguma Nsimomwe
EDITORâ€™S NOTE: Ugandan schools should promote teaching of Kiswahili