By Eddie Ssejjoba
Education officers and Inspectors of Schools have asked the ministry of education to decentralize medical boards to effectively attend to terminally sick teachers.
The educationists argue that the number of terminally ill teachers was so high and this affected teaching in many schools since the affected individuals remain on payrolls.
An education officer checking books of pupils at Mityana Public School
This implies that they will continue to appear as active, whereas they are absent from duty for long periods, which they say contribute to poor performance in most schools which lack enough teachers.
Fredrick Kiyingi, the Wakiso District Education Officer, who is the chairperson of education officers in the Central Region, said the ministry of education has one medical board that sits in Kampala once a year to consider applications for retirement of teachers on medical grounds.
He however said many of the ill teachers, especially HIV/Aids patients were too ill to travel to Kampala, yet they are needed to appear physically before the board to assess their health status and be considered for retirement.
He said regional boards should be within reach for teachers and would attend to more cases than is the case.
Many schools were concerned that ill teachers remain away from duty for most of the time, and head teachers have to wait for them to either pass away to replace them or recover and return for duty.
"But the ministry cannot appoint another teacher to replace a terminally ill one due to the staff ceiling policy, denying pupils a chance to be taught effectively," he said.
A teacher in class at Maranatha Integrated Schools Project in Mityana
Kiyingi was Wednesday addressing District Education Officers, District Inspectors of Schools and District Focal Point Officers attending a five-day trainer of trainers' workshop at Busuubuzi Core Primary Teachers' College in Mityana Town.
The participants are expected to train School Inspectors and Associate Assessors on monitoring implementation of education policies under the Uganda Teacher and School Effectiveness Project (UTSEP) run by the directorate of education standards.
The program aims at training 1,000 associate assessors by February 2016, who will help in assessing the education standards in schools and compile reports to the ministry as one of the strategies to improve the quality of education in primary schools.
Patrick Balyogera, assistant commissioner in the directorate of education standards said the program to train associate assessors was sponsored by the World Bank with a grant of 100million US Dollars intended to improve teaching in primary schools.
Pupils of Maranatha Integrated Schools Project in Mityana
He said the ratio of education inspectors currently stands at 1:200 schools, which the ministry aims at reducing to 1:30. This scenario has contributed to the challenge of ineffective and inadequate school inspection, late reporting and feedback on inspection findings.
He said each associate assessor will be entitled to a day allowance or night allowance ranging between shs50,000 and shs70,000 per school.
Balyogera said introduction of Universal Primary Education had revolutionized access to primary schooling with a high enrollment but there was increased concern about the low quality of education.
"If we train more teachers, more inspectors, build more schools and equip learners with tools, their performance will improve," he said.
Inspectors and education officers inspected some schools to assess the learning environment
Under the same program, 75 motor cycles will be given out to 70 selected districts to ease movement of inspectors and a few districts will receive vehicles.
John Kisitu Ssebakumba, a participant and education officer for Butambala said his district, with five sub counties and one Town Council has only three education inspectors who were supposed to inspect 200 primary schools, at least each three times a year.
Education officers and Inspector of Schools who attended training at Busuubizi Core PTC in Mityana
He said the district does not have transport for the inspectors, but they had asked the ministry to avail them with a vehicle and motor cycles to enable inspectors reach more schools.
Butambala was ranked 50th out of 111 districts in the 2014 Primary Leaving Examinations results.
Fredrick Kiyingi, the Wakiso District Education Officer addressing inspectors and education officers at Busuubuzi Core PTC in Mityana