Napak: An official from the Ministry of Education and Sports, Dr Mukasa Lusambu, has said government requires an extra 22,000 teachers to cope with the overwhelming number of children enrolled under the Universal Primary Education (UPE)programme.
Dr Lusambu, the assistant commissioner for primary education, revealed this while addressing pupils and other stakeholders at Lokodiokodioi Primary School in Napak District during a fact-finding mission to ascertain the infrastructure development by save the children.
“The government needs about 22,000 primary teachers but the ministry is limited by the wage Bill.
“Without increasing wages for teachers, the ministry will still be crippled not to address the teacher gaps that are being reported across the country but the ministry is pushing for an increment in terms of the wage bill that has remained stagnant for many years,” Dr Lusambu said.
Dr Lusambu was responding to district leaders’ concerns on the challenge of inadequacy of teachers to cope with the number of pupils in the district. He, however, advised the leaders to provide the ministry with details of schools and the existing teacher gaps to enable the ministry compile data for onward submission.
He challenged district leaders through the District Service Commission (DSC) to fill those gaps where some teachers died, retired or have absconded in order to ascertain the actual number of teachers required.
“The DSC receives funds for that purpose [recruitment] exercise but fill-up those posts where one died, retired and could have absconded in order to address those gaps as the ministry pushes for an increment in the wage bill to allow national recruitment of more teachers,” he said. The Napak District education officer, Ms Joyce Nakoya, who was represented by Mr John Charles Loumo, said the district is facing challenges such as inadequate classrooms, teachers and teachers’ quarters.
He said that whereas the district still has vacancies for teachers, the DSC lacks funds to conduct recruitment of more teachers. “For purpose of quality education, we request the education ministry to increase the capacity building grant purposely for recruitment of staff,” he said.
He said the district receives a meager wage bill, which is not enough to conduct interviews and recruitment of teachers to bridge the existing gaps in teacher to pupil ratio.
The State Minister for Primary Education, Ms Rosemary Nansubuga Seninde, noted with great concern that majority of school going children are not at school but are looking after cattle while girls have been married off.
She noted that the low gross enrolment in Karamoja sub-region is attributed to many factors and, among them, is lack of commitment by both parents and other stakeholders to enforce their respective responsibilities.
The gross enrolment rate in primary schools in Karamoja sub-region stands at 58 per cent [66 per cent for males and 49 per cent for females] compared to 109 per cent at the national level and gross enrolment rate in secondary schools in Karamoja is 25 per cent [8 per cent for males and 6 per cent for females] compared to 25 per cent national gross enrolment rate.
“The persistent challenges of low enrolment and absence of flexible alternative education opportunities to meet the needs of the population has not improved the situation where drop-out rates have continued to rise,” Ms Seninde said.