ANN Galiwango is the Kampala Director of Education. She talked to Vision Voice radio about the performance of UPE schools in the city.
Question: How was the 2007 PLE performance?
Galiwango: It was fair. Compared to last year we performed slightly better. Generally it wasnâ€™t as bad as some people may think.
Private schools out-shone UPE schools in the city. What could be the possible reason for this?
In Kampala we have many more private schools than government-aided ones. Out of the 350 primary schools, 82 are government-aided. By comparison, you find that in every five private schools there is one government school and over 51% children are from private schools.
What explains the disparity in performance between private and government aided schools? Why was the best performing UPE school in the city at position 33?
A number of factors contribute to the performance at that level. There are a lot of demands and targets drawn in by private schools; headteachers pay more attention to how their teachers perform compared to the government-aided schools. There are also some private schools where performance wasnâ€™t good.
Prior to this, there had been belief that private schools engage in so much malpractice and thus their good performance, yet this time round there was no cheating but they still beat UPE schools.
What explains this?
I wouldnâ€™t attribute the high performance in private schools to malpractice. There is a possibility that the amount of money injected into education at the private level may be a factor over most UPE schools, which are running on meagre budgets. The difference in teachersâ€™ earning affects their motivation and commitment.
In private schools, there is a bit more push on the teachers and those who donâ€™t perform are likely to lose their jobs
So whatâ€™s the situation like in Kampala?
In Kampala City we look at both private and government-aided schools in the same way. We donâ€™t make a lot of comparison. Because the majority of the children are in private schools we pay as much attention to them in terms of support. All these schools are teaching our children who are citizens of Uganda. And this treatment is exhibited in the way we conduct workshops and trainings.
Teachers in government-granted aided schools get little pay. Whatâ€™s being done to address this issue, since morale plays a great deal in service delivery?
The Government is trying to look at other ways of motivating teachers; pay alone is not the key motivator. Other options are being looked at like the schemes of service. These allow a teacher to grow in the career, while staying in the school, because what we currently have is that a teacher progresses up to headship and looking at the number of the schools, not everyone can become a headteacher. We have less than 82 headteachers out of 14,000, so the schemes will help them remain more committed and productive.
There is congestion in the UPE schools, leading to a high teacher-pupil ratio and consequently dismal performance. What is you take on this?
There is a lot of congestion in our schools. Although the pupil-teacher ratio has gone down to 56:1, itâ€™s still fairly high compared to what is in the top performing schools which have 35 pupils to a teacher. This gives them more time to handle the children and help them perform optimally.
Whatâ€™s the ideal pupil-teacher ratio?
In my opinion it shouldnâ€™t be more than 40:1, but because the Government is trying to ensure that every child can access an education, we find that the numbers are big. However, the Government is trying to reduce them although the pay is still low.
How do the ratios impact on service delivery and the results?
In teaching, you need to have contact hours with the children. The more this is done, the better the performance at the end of the day.
When there are low numbers of pupils, teachers can easily identify the weak children and help them.
Many pupils in Kampala go to private schools other than UPE schools. What explains this?
We have only 81 government-aided schools in the city and with the huge population, there is a big gap which is beefed up by the private schools. In the wake of the UPE programme, only 120,000 children were enrolled, but currently the attendance is 56,000 pupils. The growth of the private sector is very high, but as long as we have enough schools to meet the demands, we will support them. We would also love to see more UPE schools growing but thereâ€™s need to decongest the city over time.
Have people lost faith in UPE schools?
We need to appreciate that the school going population in Kampala is growing. We are having children coming in from up-country. The demand exceeds what we can provide for; thatâ€™s why we have more private schools.
The ministry used to declare the top performing schools and pupils. Why not any more?
What we discovered from last year is that malpractices were drawn to a minimum. You donâ€™t have to publicise... If you want to know you can go to an individual school and find out.
What about drop-out rates in Kampala?
I wouldnâ€™t want to believe itâ€™s drop-out. Most of the children who enroll in school in P1 are taken to boarding schools outside Kampala when they get to P5 or P6. Children who start in P1 move out to Wakiso district schools for P5, 6 and 7, like Budo Junior, Gayaza... all the boarding schools. But until we get pupil identification numbers, we canâ€™t know for sure.
Government-aided schools are getting out of the city. Land for these schools is being taken. How does this impact on the education?
In the case of Buganda Road, the land where the school stands is not affected. The area sold off is the area of the play field. Buganda Road Primary School isnâ€™t under threat.
What is KCCâ€™S Position?
We are concerned and worried; we want the Government to come up with a policy on the relationships between the founding bodies and the management committee (KCC). We need to revisit the policy in the 1997 Education Act.
Why UPE schools did not shine in Kampala