Primary schools lacking qualified teachers for infant classes

By Norah Mutesi

Research shows that many children world over, are failing to acquire basic literacy skills before they exit the education system

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Godfrey Kuruhiira, the Luweero district chief administrative officer, has said most schools do not have teachers qualified to teach in infant classes.

On top of having incompetent teachers, Kuruhiira said a number of primary schools have failed to identify and recruit teachers committed to teaching infant classes, leaving those that had long retired, to handle the job.

“Initially one would enrol to become a teacher when he or she passed primary school with a first grade. They would either choose to go to secondary or college. But these days, only failures opt to enrol at teacher training colleges,” he said.

Kuruhiira was speaking to a cross section of stakeholders at an Early Grade Reading (EGR) symposium held at hotel Africana on Wednesday.

The symposium gathered stakeholders from the education, finance, gender and local government ministries together with other implementing education programme partners to discuss on how to prioritise EGR interventions in the next decade.

Research shows that many children world over, are failing to acquire basic literacy skills before they exit the education system. In Uganda, Uwezo learning assessments indicate that only 13% of Primary Three pupils have P2 level English literacy proficiency and 74% of pupils in P7 have P2 English literacy levels.

Additionally, a 2016 assessment conducted by Uganda National Examination Board found that only two of every 10 pupils in P1 and P2 could correctly answer comprehension questions in local language and English.

Kuruhiira noted that inability of pupils to make required progress in their learning tasks at lower primary affects their motivation and leads to high dropout rates.

He said there was need to focus on improving quality early grade reading instruction, to enable children enjoy learning.

Part of the reasons Kuruhiira explained, prohibit teachers from teaching infant classes are the overwhelming numbers, lack of incentives and limited learning materials.

However speaking at the event, state minister for primary education, Rosemary Nansubuga Sseninde said there are better strategies and methodologies that are currently being implemented with in-service teachers to promote better early grade reading.

“Many teachers in infant classes complain saying they lack instructional material but they are taught in Primary Teachers Colleges to be creative and innovative seeing as lower lesson mainly require innovation,” she said.

“Teachers should utilise resources in environment like fibres and leaves, to come up with materials that can make their lessons practical,” Sseninde said, adding that there is need to keep advocating for the increment of the budget because some of the challenges the education sector faces are due to budget constraints.