In a significant move, the Cabinet has granted approval for additional funding of more than Shs1.4 trillion to enhance the government’s Universal Primary Education (UPE) program.
The request for this supplementary funding was presented by First Lady Janet Kataha, who also serves as the Education Minister.
The aim of this funding injection is to address various challenges within the UPE program, most notably the recruitment of over 70,000 teachers.
Dr. Dennis Mugimba, spokesperson for the Ministry of Education and Sports, confirmed this development, emphasizing the government’s commitment to improving education in Uganda.
He explained that the funding will enable the recruitment of approximately 78,888 primary teachers, with the goal of achieving a more favorable pupil-teacher ratio of 40:1.
This improvement will directly benefit 12,433 UPE schools.
One of the root causes of parents contributing to the wages of contract staff in schools has been the shortage of government-employed teachers.
By bolstering teacher recruitment, the government intends to eliminate the need for schools to contract additional teaching staff.
Dr. Mugimba assured that the recruitment process for these primary school teachers will begin in the upcoming financial year.
To secure the necessary funding, First Lady Janet Kataha has already approached the Ministry of Finance, seeking the release of Shs309 billion, which was approved by Cabinet to enhance the quality of free primary education by July 2024.
A portion of these funds will be allocated to the teacher recruitment effort.
Moreover, on March 17, Ms. Museveni secured Cabinet approval for an additional Shs1.48 trillion to support the UPE program from the financial year 2024/2025 to 2027/2028, with Shs309.16 billion earmarked for the first year.
In addition to teacher recruitment, this funding will also contribute to increased resources for local government oversight and school inspections.
The government is taking comprehensive steps to enhance teacher presence in schools, and there is optimism that the increased funding for education over the next five years will result in significant improvements in the education system.
As of the latest records from the Education Ministry, Uganda currently boasts 12,433 UPE schools, 136,819 teachers, and 8,624,264 learners.
The proposed recruitment drive is expected to boost the number of primary school teachers in UPE schools to 215,707, thereby reducing the teacher-learner ratio from the current 1:53 to a more favorable 1:40.
A head teacher from an UPE school in eastern Uganda, speaking on condition of anonymity, welcomed the government’s decision, highlighting its potential to address the long-standing issue of understaffing.
Additionally, it will alleviate the burden on schools in persuading parents to pay for contracted teachers.
Mr. Baguma Filbert, the general secretary of the Uganda National Teachers Union, commended the government’s initiative to hire more teachers but also stressed the importance of motivating these educators to ensure effective teaching.
He viewed this as a positive step in supporting the education of children in Uganda, particularly in addressing the problem of understaffing in schools.