In 1986, Uganda had no seed secondary school. The Government had, by 2018, built 117.

Education: Securing our future

In 1986, Uganda had no seed secondary school. The Government had, by 2018, built 117.

Like me, everyone knows education is an enabler with the ability to close opportunity gaps. It is on this premise that President has invested immense efforts in improving the education system, of course, building on what was in place.

When Museveni came to power in 1986, Uganda’s education was in bad shape in terms of infrastructure and literacy rates, with low quantities from primary to higher education.

The Government’s deliberate strategies applied to the sector over the years, have registered significant milestones.

In 1986, Uganda had no seed secondary school. The Government had, by 2018, built 117. We had 506 secondary schools in 1986 and 2,832 by 2019. Primary teachers were 7,357 in 1986 and 27,000 by 2018. The numbers keep increasing.

There were 45,000 permanent classrooms by 1999 which rose to 164,513 by 2018. Uganda had one university in 1996. There were 57 by 2019, with 400,000 students graduating per year compared to 3,000 in 1986. Primary teachers colleges were 13,071 by 2001 doubling to 27,059 by 2016. Primary school teachers were 64,779 in 1986 and numbers increased to 224,436 in 2018; 10,193 secondary school teachers in 1986 growing to 72,000 by 2016 with 7,403 teachers’ houses by 1986, which increased to 10,869 by 2014.

Those investments in education sector have enhanced enrolments in educational institutions at all levels. In secondary schools it rose from 161,396 in 2007 to 857,867 in 2016, from 5,390 in 1986 to 200,238 in universities by 2016 and 14,077 in 1986 to 42,644 in BTVET by 2016.

Considering that education is every child’s right, the Government rolled out Universal Primary Education (UPE) and Universal Secondary Education (USE) covering all government and government-aided schools though sometimes, parents are asked to offer minimal facilitation.

The NRM values the girl child and, by extension, gender equality, which is the major reason Museveni initiated the Skilling The Girl Child project worth sh5,158,000,000. It benefited 12,651 girls who were also offered sh1,981,150,000 as start-up capital between 2017 and 2019.

Book-to-pupil ration was improved from 14:1 to 3:1 following the Government’s scheme that provided English and mathematics textbooks to all pupils from P1 to P7 in all government-aided schools. The wage bill for primary school teachers increased from sh779b in 2015/16 to sh918b in 2018/19 due to the increment in teachers’ salaries from sh280,000 to sh469,000.

The Government recruited 4,520 secondary school teachers in the last three years and 3,610 jobs have been advertised. Teachers’ attendance improved from 70% to 85% by 2018. The subject menu for lower secondary school reduced from 44 to 20 with the major focus on science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), following changes in the lower secondary curriculum.

Adult literacy rate is at 70.2% for males and 61.97 for females. Overall, the education sector’s budget has exponentially grown over the fiscal years. It was allotted sh3.6 trillion in FY2020/21. Owing to improved public education, the NRM government has produced thousands of graduates ready to be absorbed into the job market while others are self-employed. Makerere University was ranked as the best university in sub-Saharan Africa outside of South Africa and the 569th best worldwide in 2020. Those achievements notwithstanding, challenges remain due to budget constraints, but we are fixing them.

Given the impact of COVID-19, which necessitated e-learning, the NRM government is focusing substantial energies on digitisation of education through improvement of IT infrastructure (hardware, software and connectivity.) The Government is also enhancing teachers’ salaries and emoluments at all levels to reinvigorate their energies towards providing quality education for all students.

For teachers in private educational institutions, the President recently announced up to sh20b as a relief fund for teachers estimated to be 350,000 in private schools because they have also been affected by COVID-19. They have not been paid for several months. Additionally, the Government is reforming the way it recruits, trains and retrains and supports teachers so that the teachers help students succeed.

Therefore, the right person to secure our future and enhance the total transformation of the education system is President . Let us renew his mandate by voting him again.

The writer is the NRM national treasurer

Read original article here.