Educationists in Bunyoro sub region have implored the Government to stop threatening head teachers that they risk being sacked if they do not get first grades.
They say the government should instead address the issues that lead to pupil failure like poor learning environment, lack of accommodation for teachers and staff shortage.
Last week, the ministry of education issued a statement that they would demote primary school head teachers who do not produce at least five first grades. This has since attracted criticism from educationists in Bunyoro sub region.
The Masindi former District education officer Francis Kyomuhendo punches holes in the proposed policy, saying it can’t work unless the ministry addresses the key issues crippling the education sector like the unfavourable learning environment.
Government can amuse me sometimes, you want head teachers to produce first grades, what is the learning environment like, a head teacher is overloaded, he is the bursar, a teacher, has to cause meetings, so how can he perform” Kyomuhendo questioned.
“Producing results is not a problem, but most schools are understaffed, a school that needs ten teachers has four, some teachers are not even qualified, no chalk at school, some are in a sorry state, before you warn them of first provide a conducive environment then caution, of now this is unethical and can’t work” Baingana C/m Bunyoro inspector of schools noted.
Mzee Ausi Mugisa is a retired head teacher who is quick to fault the Government for singling out school heads for pupils’ failure.
“Passing of pupils requires a combined effort of a parents, local leaders, teachers, so singling out a head teacher is not fair, though I know he is a pace setter but most times is let down by other parties including Government, but also look at administration, let him be given support staff” Mugisa said
In Bunyoro, most head teachers trek long distances to school. This to Mugisa has greatly affected the performance of learners, thus advising the Government to consider setting up accommodation facilities for school heads.
“Here most teachers ride some cycle bicycles about eight to ten miles to school, this is tiresome if you have to do it everyday, by the time you get to school it’s late, but you also have to leave early, the best is why can’t Government consider accomodation for at least school heads, as for now life is hard a head teacher” Mugisa cleared
The Bunyoro District education officers Chairperson, Johnson Kusiima Baingana says it’s hard for schools to produce results with most head teachers as caretakers.
“None of us would love to this a head reached caretaker for five to ten years, so he is receiving a salary of a classroom teacher, no motivation, no allowance, but remember even Government stopped collection of any money to support activities at school, now is this classroom headteacher paid like you want to deliver results, as a District we can’t substantively appoint because it requires money which ministry of finance has not released” Baingana said
“Ministry of education prides that Uganda has 12000 primary schools in Uganda, let them find out if all these schools have headteachers, I have a friend of mine a DEO for Buliisa who told me out of the thirty-three schools, only six have substantively appointed heads, now are you going to first appoint then ask for results or?” Kyomuhendo questioned.
Kyomuhendo questions why the ministry is not working with head teachers to address the issue of poor performance other than intimidating head teachers.
“Work with schools and find lasting solutions to the problem that make pupils fail rather than threatening, while designing policies involve them or else, they will continue failing, every time you here ministry has directed, but is it applicable is the question” Kyomuhendo submits.
“Ok what if all these schools don’t get first grades are going to demote all head teachers, it’s not practical stop intimidating, let’s stop at finger pointing we all have a role to play” Mugisa said.
Over the years, the Government introduced a number of interventions including performance agreements, performance targets and public service annual performance assessment but all these have not yielded results.
“We have been signing these agreements with sub county chiefs, but the key issues is, after signing do other stakeholders do their roles, the answer is no” Mugisa said
“Those policies have been there but how many head teachers were demoted, before you introduce new policies you need to first find out why the old ones didn’t work, so I see these also failing from the onset ” Kyomuhendo added.
The Hoima District chairman Uthuman Mugisha Mubarak says there is a need to stop castigating school heads but to address the underlying factors. Hoima public school head teacher, Karungi Basemera Harriet says three parties need to perform their roles, which include pupils, teachers and parents.
“Let’s not supervise to castigate but supervise to find out where the errors are and work together to address them, threats may not yield results, but we can speak to headteachers, as they do their roles, local leaders we can also do our roles and pupils will pass once there is coordination” Uthuman Hoima LC 5 said.
“Sometimes as headteachers we do our best, but parents and pupils let us down, some pupils don’t want to study, but also parents don’t provide lunch how can you teach an empty pupil from morning to evening and expect them to pass, but also some don’t have scholastic materials, like our math’s teachers keep complaining” Basemera Hoima public primary head teacher said.
They advise the government to revisit its strategies and bring applicable thought through policies where all stakeholders have been consulted rather than hurling hard to implement policies.