Article 30 of the 1995 constitution of the republic of Uganda provides for the right to education. This by extension means that government should provide quality education to Ugandans. Toensure quality, government therefore, comes up with polices to help monitor and ensure that quality is being served to Ugandans.
Over the years, however, the quality of education in Uganda mainly in the government owned schools has faced challenges: unprofessionalism of the teaching profession, low entry academic requirements into the teaching profession. This is exemplified by frequent absenteeism of teachers and ineffective teaching. Just recently, the government approved a new national teacher’s policy. Its aim, among others, is to professionalise the teaching profession to levels comparable to manners in the seminary.
The policy seeks to improve the development and management of teachers in the education system; to improve the teaching and learning in the entire education system. Whereas government is showing good will through the policy, the avenues it can use to achieve its good intentions are, sadly, porous: extortion is rampant, which negatively affects the recruitment and retention of teachers. In a country where scamming seems to be a daily routine, some of the recommendations pose more threat to the already vulnerable teacher. For example, teachers are to be recruited on contract putting an end to the ‘permanent and pensionable’ song. The contract will be renewed subject to how efficient the teacher was the period under review.
That wouldn’t be bad. We all want efficiency and optimal performance. But putting the power to recommend/assess who qualifies for renewal of license is going to turn unprofessional head teachers into demigods and makeshift kings and queens and also create a fertile ground for corruption buying of jobs. It goes without saying that some headteachers and administrators may unprofessionally use personal biases and conflicts to label one a nonperformer.
We should brace ourselves to a generation of bootlickers and sycophants in the name of protecting jobs. Furthermore, teachers will be required to pay shs150,000 in annual professional charges to get a teaching license. The charge itself is weird; but also, there is yet to be any sensitization as why teachers have to pay annually to be given teaching licenses. The policy is here with us, anyways.So how best can we achieve what the policy is asking us to do, without bowing to whims demi gods and going down the sycophancy road? To curb absenteeism, a digitalised daily registration by teachers should be put in place in schools so that attendance is monitored right from ministry using a smart phone with global positioning system and biometric features. The education sector is however rather ‘innovative’. We have had stories of ghost teachers.
The same headteachers who have been manufacturing ghost teachers can still manipulate the records system to their benefit. For example, teachers who genuinely register can be presented as absent and replaced with a ghost and to be able to avoid retrenchment, the affected teacher would have to head down the bootlicking street. Policy makers should also remember that being at school is not teaching or teaching efficiently.
The root cause of teacher’s attitude at their workplaces for both the primary and secondary teachers need to be addressed and worked upon than trying to cure the symptoms. Just like how science teachers’ salary in secondary school was enhanced, all teacher’s salary needs to be enhanced, poor pay always cause disgruntlement in all workers. There is also need to organise regional workshops for during holidays so that teachers get refresher training to improve their efficiency and effectiveness.
The writer (Nankumbi Rebecca) is a professional teacher