Kampala. As secondary school head teachers and teachers’ college principals gather today to select students joining Senior Five and colleges, respectively, the ministry of Education has tightened the entry requirements to Primary Teachers’ Colleges (PTCs) following an outcry that students with poor grades were being admitted to train as teachers.
Among the changes is that students wishing to join any of the 45 primary teachers colleges across the country will be required to have a minimum of credits in English and Mathematics and two passes in any sciences like Biology, Agriculture, Chemistry and Physics. But this must have been scored in one sitting.
Previously, the government would admit candidates to PTCs with at least a pass in English language and Mathematics, as well as a pass in two other science subjects such as Biology, Agriculture, Physics or Chemistry. In total, the student would require a minimum of six passes to be admitted.
Dr Grace Lubaale, the head of Kyambogo University Department of Teacher Education and Development studies told Daily Monitor yesterday that the professional board of teacher education sat and approved the new proposals to teacher colleges on Monday.
He urged that the changes will improve the quality of teachers being trained in terms of their cognitive ability and reduce on the increasing demand for primary teacher education amidst the limited facilities.
“Teacher training in PTCs is government-funded and you should have passed to get this sponsor. There are more people demanding to become primary teachers. If you go to a college, you find 600 applicants yet you have space for only 250. We hope the approved proposals will improve the quality of teachers,” Dr Lubaale said.
Almost half of the PTCs have been admitting candidates who appeared in Grade Three in Uganda Certificate of Education results in the last four consecutive years.
For example, last year 29 PTCs out of 45 Daily Monitor looked at, had their cutoff points as high as aggregate 56 in the best done eight subjects (Grade Three).
A survey conducted by Uganda National Examinations Board (Uneb) showed that eight out of every 10 primary teachers who completed primary teacher education in 2015 could hardly read, let alone do an arithmetic of a Primary Six level.
The report further indicated that only 18.8 per cent of the primary teachers’ tutors could interpret graphs compared to their 5.7 per cent final year students subjected to the same task.
This means 81.2 per cent of the tutors could not interpret the graphs and so were 94.3 per cent of their students.
Releasing the report, Uneb’s executive secretary, Mr Daniel Odongo, said the findings were alarming and asked other stakeholders to get involved to improve the learning and teaching of their children.
By Uneb standards, children in grades one, two, three and four have passed and qualify to proceed in their academic career. But candidates who fall in Grade Four, according to Mr Odongo, “have almost failed and few institutions would be interested in taking them”. The best students lie in Grade One, where candidates exhibit high levels of knowledge and skill.
In an earlier interview, Ms Goretti Nakabugo, the Uwezo country director, asked government to make the teaching profession competitive to ensure the best students aspire to join the profession. She said teachers should be well paid and given incentives like housing and health allowances.