By Gonza Ssensamba
National Secretary - Education Planning, Research & Organization Committee
As part of the In - Service Training Programme organized by Uganda National Teachers Union (UNATU), Gonza arranged a field visit for UNATU’s colleagues from the Canadian Teacher’s Federation (CTF) to one of the rural primary schools in the Universal Primary Education (UPE) scheme on 9th July 2010. On their way to the school found in Wakiso district, they were worried that their courtesy visit would disrupt pupils from their lessons as it was a schooling day. However, to their surprise, on arrival at the school at 3.00pm, they found all the pupils in the school compound and not in class at all. The reason – the school does not provide unch and the pupils were hungry and could not concentrate in class.
The above scenario is most unfortunate. UNATU’s findings show that 68%of the pupils in Primary schools do not offer any mid-day meals to the pupils. What kind of professionals is the country training, when starved children cannot concentrate on their studies. It is also true that many pupils are dropping out of school because they are not able to study on empty stomachs.
A number of UPE schools have private feeding programmes but many parents particularly in the rural areas cannot afford to pay even the minimal cost of a simple ‘meal’ of porridge from maize flour nor pack food for the children! Such children cannot study and prepare to compete well in the national examinations, hence fail to go beyond the Primary Leaving Examination (PLE).