Lwengo head teachers decry understaffing in UPE schools

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Nakasongola. Head teachers in government schools in Lyantonde District have expressed concern over shortage of teachers, which is affecting the performance of learners.
According to Mr Fredrick Musiimenta, the chairperson of all primary head teachers in the district, almost all primary and secondary schools in the district are stuck with glaring staffing gaps and some teachers are forced to teach more than three classes.
“The already bad situation becomes worse when female teachers go for maternity leave and learners are left to be taught by their fellow pupils,” Mr Musiimenta said while speaking during an education stakeholders meeting at the district headquarters at the weekend.
He further explained that many public schools in the district are contemplating hiring private teachers, starting this term to fill the gap.
“Some schools have already started hiring teachers, but find a challenge of paying their salaries as some parents refuse to contribute money to facilitate their children’s education insisting that education is free in government schools,” he said
Among the 48 primary government schools in the district, only 30 per cent have enough teachers. Ideally, a primary school must have at least 17 teachers.

Affected schools
Some of the affected schools include Kitazingolokwa Roman Catholic School, Kitazingolokwa Church of Uganda Primary School, Kaliiro Primary School and Kyewanula Primary School, among others.
Mr Fred Muhangi, the Lyantonde District chairperson assured head teachers that the district is in the process of recruiting new teachers to solve the problem of understaffing.
“By March 15, this problem of lack of teachers in Lyantonde will be solved. We are soon advertising all the vacant posts,” Mr Muhangi said.
Currently, Lyantonde District lacks a district service commission following the expiry of the term of former office bearers and this could explain why staffing gaps exist in some district departments. But Mr Muhangi said the district is going to seek services of another service commission in one of the neigbouring districts to help recruit new staff. Like it is the trend across the country, private schools in Lyantonde District performed better than public schools in the recently released Primary leaving Examinations. Lyantonde District Education Officer, Mr Medard Byarugaba said government together with World Bank, Building Tomorrow, Child Aid and other development partners have joined hands to construct new school classrooms in schools which have poor or no infrastructure.
UPE was introduced in 1997 to enable bright, but poor pupils enroll in tuition-free schools.
But the scheme is still seriously hampered by delayed releases of funds, congestion and high student-to- teacher ratio and unclear feeding programme for both children and teachers in schools.

UPE was introduced in 1997 to enable bright but poor pupils enroll in tuition-free schools. But the scheme is still seriously hampered by delayed release of funds, congestion and high student-to-teacher ratio and unclear feeding programme for both children and teachers.

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