Educationists have for long carried out a sustained effort to improve the condition of teachers in Uganda. As this newspaper has consistently argued, teachers play a key role in shaping the future of our children, and by extension, the country’s development. This can only be possible if teachers are given a good foundation during training.
As calls to improve the standard of education – a move that essentially depends on the quality of teachers and school infrastructure – persist, the government continues to neglect this crucial area. A report in Sunday Monitor about the National Teachers College Kabale is an example of such neglect. During the NTC’s graduation ceremony last Friday, the principal, Mr Benjamin Turyahikayo, decried the poor learning environment characterised by leaking asbestos roofing and cracked walls.
Poor infrastructure is not the only challenge the college is facing. Mr Turyahikayo also cited insufficient Capitation Grants lack of staff houses shortage of teaching and learning materials and appropriate means of transport for students, as some of the major challenges at the NTC. The current Capitation Grant rate of Shs1,800 per day, for instance, inadequate for a student’s needs, which include meals and scholastic materials, general maintenance, repairs to equipment, administration and other expenses.
While Education minister Jessica Alupo pledged government commitment to address the challenges raised, the government must follow up such pledges with clear timelines. The buildings of Kabale NTC, currently in urgent need of renovation, were constructed in the 1970s. Yet, even in its poor state and numerous challenges, the college has done well and continues to train teachers. During last week’s graduation, at least 20 students were awarded first class diplomas and 714 received Second Class Upper diplomas. As the principle stated: “Besides being the centre for quality primary and secondary teacher education in the country, the national teachers college has continued to produce teachers in areas considered critical for the development of our country”
The need to train quality teachers cannot be overemphasised. Just last week, the Uganda National Examinations Board released a report saying majority of teachers in upper primary and lower secondary schools lack competencies in subjects they teach. Though the report recommends that teachers should reduce part-timing in other schools so as to increase contact hours in their deployed schools, the problem of competence, if the report is accurate, cannot be narrowed to part-timing. Just as the formative years of a child’s education has a great impact on their future learning, teacher training should equally be given utmost attention because it impacts greatly on the future of the children they train.
The issue: Teachers’ colleges
Our view: Teacher training should equally be given utmost attention because it impacts greatly on the future of the children they train.
SOURCE: Daily Monitor