By OLIVIER MUKAAYA(The Daily Monitor)
The Pallisa District local government is facing a shortage of about 400 primary teachers to cope with the overwhelming number of pupils enrolled under the Universal Primary Education (UPE).
“Shortage of teachers has remained an unresolved issue affecting service delivery in most primary schools in Pallisa District,” Mr Stephen Opela, the inspector of schools in-charge of Kibale County said.
He said the district requires 400 primary school teachers to address the shortage in the district.
“Many teachers have either retired from active service or have died without replacement,” he said.
The recommended teacher to pupil ratio is 1:53 but in most Pallisa schools, it stands at 1:63.
He said whereas the district has jobs for teachers, the district service commission lacks funds to conduct the recruitment.
“For purposes of quality education, we request the Education ministry to increase capacity building grant purposely for recruitment of staff,” he said.
He said the district receives a meagre wage bill which is not enough to conduct interviews and recruitment of more teachers to bridge the gap.
Pallisa District has 76 primary schools operating under the UPE.
The total number of teachers stands at 844, out of which, some died and retired from active service.
To resolve the matter, government will, beginning next financial year, allocate a minimum of seven teachers per primary school, and additional teachers based on enrolment of pupils.
A new formula of allocating primary teachers to schools is now in effect.
The ministry says it wants to ensure that there is at least one teacher per class before it considers the teacher-pupil ratio.
Recruitment of teachers is one of government’s key priorities, according to a budget framework paper presented during the annual review.
This is partly attributed to the increase in the enrolment of pupils in schools under the free education programme. Currently, there are about eight million pupils in all schools under the UPE programme.
Mr Opela attributed the poor performance in the district to inadequate teachers.
In the recently released PLE results, the district registered 5,371 Primary Seven candidates last year, but it was ranked among the last 13 districts in the country.
Ms Agnes Amoding, the chairperson of Uganda National Teachers’ Union, Pallisa said the poor performance is attributed to lack of basic needs, negative perception of parents towards feeding and provision of basic scholastic materials, long distances and above all absenteeism of teachers in schools.
“Many issues need to be addressed in order to improve academic performance in the district. The situation is not so good,” she said.
She also noted that transfers are a normal routine but other factors such as accommodation, teacher’s health conditions and distance must be put into consideration before a teacher is transferred.
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