was forwarded to ACE by Charles Etoru. It highlights some
of the problems of primary education in an area of Uganda
quite close to Luwero where we support St.
came from the online version of New
Vision newspaper and was written by Elizabeth Namazzi.
people await the rainy season in anticipation. Not so with
the pupils and teachers in Nakasongola district. To them,
rain heralds woes as the district lacks decent shelter. Trees
and makeshift shacks serve as classrooms and teachers' houses.
present, Nakasongola has 143 government-aided schools and
six registered private schools. The senior education officer,
Sarah Bugoosi, said: "Some schools have no buildings at all,
while others have just one building and an office."
pupils of Kalinda Primary school sit in a partially grass-thatched
shack that is supported by weak poles. Although an effort
to construct permanent classrooms is evident, little has been
done to provide accommodation for the teachers. Lack of teachers'
houses is the biggest challenge we have. Some teachers live
six kilometres away from school and their houses are several
the absence of reliable transport and good roads, most teachers
are unwilling to trek long distances in the name of teaching.
The situation worsens during the rainy season when the roads
are completely impassable.
to brave more than six miles of mud and pools of water, most
teachers choose to stay at home until the roads improve. Even
those with accommodation at the school premises are not better
many, a good night's sleep is a luxury they dream of. "You
cannot enjoy your sleep in such a house. We always sleep with
one ear open, prepared to run out of the house at the slightest
indication that it's falling," a teacher at Kateebe Primary
Nakitoma sub-county, the teachers of Kikanga Primary School
also reside in grass-thatched huts. The only 'permanent' house
has one room and one has to bend to go through the doorway.
a district where dry spells hit with a vengeance, rain brings
a smile to many faces, but for teachers, rain means sleepless
nights. The roofs on teachers' houses are riddled with holes
that leave rain flowing right into the houses. "When it rains,
we spend the night standing. All our property gets wet," a
female teacher of Kateebe Primary School laments.
residence is a tiny two-mud house on the brink of collapse.
The doors are so weak that they can be kicked open without
much force. Their biggest concern though is the roof. "It
leaks at every point you can imagine," one of the teachers,
who preferred anonymity, said.
such a night, the teachers are in no mood for classes. The
students are not enthusiastic too. Their attention is divided
between cattle keeping and classes. When a sleepy and poorly-paid
teacher stands before such a class, the quality of education
is bound to suffer.
plus the fact that most of the teachers in Nakasongola district
are not trained, does not help matters. According to Bugoosi,
the district has about 500 trained teachers out of over 1,100
is not surprising that when the results of the national examinations
are released, Nakasongola district records one of the worst
performances in the country.
says for the last five years, Nakasongola has had the biggest
percentage of pupils drop out before they complete Primary
Seven. Out of those who sit Primary Leaving Examinations,
only 7% attain first grade and the highest percentage attain
sure way to improve Nakasongola's performance is by building
a highly-motivated teaching force. In some schools, some teachers
have solved their accommodation problem by using their meagre
resources to construct small houses.
schools have benefited from NGOs like World Vision and Concern
World Vision finances the whole project, Concern International
covers 80% of the construction costs and requires the community
to shoulder 20%.
is still the fact that Nakasongola's people are not entirely
convinced that education is worth the investment.