Taking a look at a USE school students’ report card is so painful that you are in doubt as to what their future will be. The students’ continued failure in most of their subjects is alarming. In some of the USE schools, the students barely have where to study from.
For instance, one USE school in Nakaseke District, has only two buildings – one housing three classrooms, head teacher’s office, and the staff room while the other, which is has been unroofed for six years, is almost collapsing. One wonders what kind of teaching and learning takes place in a such an environment, especially during and after rainfall, where students have to share a classroom.
In the past, the community used to work together in building schools – they made bricks, collected water and sand, among other necessary materials for putting up classroom structures for their children to learn. This is no longer the case. Parents or guardians simply sit back and start complaining about poverty in spite of the fact that they could be having untapped resources.
Sadly, many students in USE schools are themselves products of UPE schools. Many of them could have even failed their PLE exams. So it is expecting too much from these students to perform well unless a miracle happens. Their literacy and numeracy competence are already very low and may require many years to tune them in academic terms.
The students themselves lack enthusiasm in their studies because they often lack confidence and self-esteem. There is need for schools to equip USE students with tangible skills as a way of preparing them such that in case they do not make continue with their studies, they, can self-employ themselves. Motivation and inspiration is what many USE students require to rekindle their apparent diminished hopes. Schools receive text books from the Ministry of Education for mainly subjects like geography, chemistry and biology while others like agriculture, or Luganda are often left out.
In the USE schools, teacher absenteeism is common. Teachers are paid little salary yet they pay rent, educate their children and go to the same markets like the rest of Ugandans. When I was still in school, teachers absenteeism was unheard of. Teachers were always accessible by students seeking their guidance for one reason or another.
At the district level, inspectors of schools rarely visit secondary schools these days. Schools are left at the mercy of the head teachers, many of whom are also rarely at the school premises.
There have been many new districts created yet the challenging question of relating to the shortage of the human resource to run these districts remain unanswered. When Nakaseke District was curved out Luweero District, the move was not followed by manpower increment.
Therefore, this leaves many schools neither supervised nor supported by the local governments. There is no one who can be held responsible students’ failures. It is unfortunate that it appears many Ugandans do not have love for their fellow citizens as well as the country. Though Uganda’s motto is ‘For God and My Country’, many citizens do not live the import of this motto anymore.
People seem to have forgotten and is like everyone is on their own. It is true that teachers survive on a meager salary and the government should give them an increment.
However, have the teachers given their all to ensure that the poor learners in their hands improve?
Today’s generation makes teachers of tomorrow and if they are half-baked, we shall have half-baked teachers of tomorrow. Who will teach our children in the next 40 years and where does today’s responsible parent feature in all this?
Next Generation Schools is a young Ugandan charity which partners with free secondary schools in disadvantaged rural communities in Uganda to raise educational standards through twelve key innovations. Founded by Mara Foundation and are now autonomous with an independent Board of Directors in Uganda. To read more about the work of Next Generation Schools, please visit our website www.nextgen-schools.org
As published in the Daily Monitor on September 3rd 2012