I am a product of a school currently characterized as a Universal Primary School (UPE) category, but what I have to say, we got quality education and competed for some of the best schools. It is absurd that greed, corruption, and selfishness among other things have killed the good foundation that other Governments had created, and what goes on in most of these schools is simply unbelievable. It has been sad to all the time hear the President talk about other things and ignoring the funding these schools need to the extend of discouraging parents to pay fees! It is absurd, because Museveni's Governance is responsible for the mess we see around. The people are impoverished, many programs do not boost the welfare of the masses. The shilling has deteriorated on. It is simply sad news with Museveni.
What then can the schools do?
I am of the opinion that schools can learn schemes like the Self Help Groups (SHGs)concept and see how they can help themselves. If schools identify areas in which they can generate income, may be this way, their are chances of boosting the schools. Some of these schools ahve land resources, etc. But it is sad that UPE schools are what they are.
William Kituuka Kiwanuka
UPE FAILURE IS A FAILURE OF GOVERNANCE
Uganda Peoples Congress
Plot 8-10 Kampala Road, Uganda House,
P. O. Box 9206, Kampala
01 Apr 2009
In his characteristic style of putting blame on others shoulders instead of accepting responsibility, President Museveni has called for a review of his failed flagship, the Universal Primary Education, (UPE).
While presiding over a fundraising ceremony at St. Charles Lwanga Catholic Church at Namabaale, Masaka, the NRM supreme lamented thus:
“I am going to sit with the district leaders and other stakeholders. We shall find out whether the problem is caused by insufficient funds or whether this money is being misappropriated”.
There is no need for an expensive grand meeting to review the sufficiency of UPE funds. The patriotic NRM Government that affords to buy a new state of the art Presidential jet and to construct a hotel size palace called state house for one sacrificing family worth billions, only spends not more than three thousand shillings per school term of 82 days on each UPE pupil. In his patriotic care for UPE, President Museveni cannot afford the cost of one chicken per pupil per term. No wonder, schools have no basics like books, pens, chalk and paper.
On the misappropriation of the already meager UPE funds, anybody who cares knows that since corruption and graft is the main pillar of NRM governance, the politicians both at the centre and in the districts and the civil servants in the Ministry of Education and in the Districts habitually steal the UPE funds. As corruption and graft have worsened over the years, so has the quality of the UPE.
The NRM government was forced to introduce and implement the UPE haphazardly without any planning for political expediency. It is a political gimmick to tell a massive lie to the poor people of Uganda, that the government has unburdened them from the responsibility to educate their children. Ultimately what UPE offers is not education but a psychological to the deprived people relief. Many parents and pupils of course realize the lie and opt out of the hopeless scheme hence the astronomical drop out rate. In the meantime, the NRM leaders, cadres and those who scavenge on the UPE spoils send their children to private schools where quality education is provided at market rates. The children of the millions, whom the NRM has kept in poverty, remain in UPE to fail even by NRM standards.
The failure of the UPE, which UPC and other Ugandans who know the NRM record predicted, is a failure of the NRM system of governance. The NRM system is based on selfish greed and plunder. It knows no planning and is not people-centered. The NRM which set up a flawed UPE cannot review its own failure. The NRM is incapable of straightening up the UPE because to do so requires straightening up the governance of Uganda. That is suicidal for the NRM!
UPE is an international programme which, in Uganda was first seriously propounded by the UPC in its 1980 manifesto. At page 10 of that manifesto, the UPC was clear. UPC asserted:
EDUCATION AND MANPOWER
For a long time students came from many parts of Africa to our schools and institutions of higher learning as they were among the finest on the continent. In the sixties, the UPC government greatly expanded, diversified, improved and strengthened schools and colleges. Moral and academic standards were high and so was the quality of staff and student life. All have sadly deteriorated.
The UPC is committed to raise moral and academic standards in schools, colleges and all other institutions of learning to vastly improve the environment in which the staff work and the students study, play and contribute to nation building. The UPC government shall cooperate with religious bodies in the national task of building an educational system the products of which would have high moral standards, a sense of humility and dedication to serve fellowmen and the country.
Education, in the view of UPC, is a very important investment to produce men and women who can maintain and advance specific and the sum total of our achievements, and provide solution to our needs. The UPC government will review our education system so as to establish a firm relationship between education and employment in government and para-statal organizations, private industry and commerce and self-employment. The UPC government shall appoint a commission to study and advise on the matter. Private industry and commerce as well as religious bodies shall be asked to provide representation to serve on the commission.
The terms of reference shall include curriculla appropriate at every level in our educational system. The structure of that system, financiang educational institutions and in particular the financing of free-education from primary to university levels; and the role and extent of government contribution in the financing of private schools and other institutions of learning”.
Under the UPC government, salvage operations in the rehabilitation of schools, colleges, training institutes and the university will emphasise:
To actualize the UPE programme, the UPC embarked on the rehabilitation of the economy under the Rehabilitation and Recovery Programme (1982-1984) to lay a firm basis for a vibrant economy capable of generating private and public funds for the planned UPE. UPC took specific care to plan and implement necessary infrastructure in terms of expanding institutions for teacher training, producing text books under the Second IDA Programme, revising the school curriculum and improving remuneration for public sector workers including teachers (do you remember, the 1983/1984 kakobogo budget?). the stage had now been set for implementing the UPE before those who bear arms overthrew the UPC government and handed it over to their ilk in the NRA. That marked the death of the real UPE.
To revive the UPC scheme requires to first free Uganda from the abuse and injustice of Yoweri Museveni’s bondage. General Museveni who is responsible for the death of UPE is a cynical instrument to review his own mess up. The people of Uganda should join the UPC campaign to resque Uganda from the failed state it is now. Only a free Uganda under democratic governance can revive a genuine UPE programme as part and partial of a well conceived “Recovery and Development Plan”. The UPC is working on such a blue print to implement once we are again trusted by the people of Uganda through the ballot to offer the badly needed leadership.
WE ARE TALKING ABOUT UPE FAILURES BUT WHAT HAPPENED TO THE CHILDREN?
Tuesday, 02 November 2010 11:05 by prof. micheal madill
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The debate about universal primary education (UPE) is mired in arguments about statistics and public relations. You only have to pick up a newspaper and read the finely calibrated comments on all sides following the publication of the Uwezo report. We are bickering about literacy rates, numbers of schools built and shillings spent or wasted. But what happened to the children?
In Uganda, around 135 of them die for every 1000 live births. That's one in seven dead before they reach five years old. Ninety per cent “ almost all “ children here grow up in poverty. One of five suffers from chronic hunger. Three hundred die every day from malaria. Measured this way, UPE is a failure because it doesn't matter how many children you enroll or how many schools you build if children are too poor or sick to attend or too hungry to learn. We were told UPE was a cure for these problems. Really, though, it's the other way round.
Universal primary education will only succeed if children learn, and they can only learn well if they are reasonably secure, housed, fed, clothed and supplied with a few tools. These basics won't arrive, though, until families can afford to provide them, and that means jobs and money in the pocket. Education depends on economic development. The President admitted this when he feted teachers at Lugogo but told them not to expect better pay until he had sorted out the roads and power plants.
Where did the money go? The economy is supposed to grow 5.9 per cent and maybe as much as 7.4 per cent this year, but only because of the collapse in food prices amid the global economic crash. Food prices rose almost 3 per cent in September, though, and if they continue they will wipe out the good economic news. The debate over the present year's budget six months ago revealed the government was not collecting revenue at the rate it wanted, making a shortfall of almost 30 billion shillings in one month, or more than 350 billion shillings a year. Then there was the 450 billion shillings gap between budgeted expenditure and estimated revenue. Put these together, and the government needs almost one trillion shillings just to break even in this fiscal year. Some of this money will come from aid and some from other external financing and some will simply not come at all. This will make it hard for the government to respond to problems in UPE once it has paid for roads and can no longer divert attention by criticising statistics and methods in a report it finds unfavourable.
If the economy were a pie, it would be shrinking or at least not getting bigger. Two political consequences of this are more competition for less government money and a decline in the power of people or factions not critical to the security of the regime. Both manifested at International Teachers' Day celebrations, and they are bad news for UPE and bad news for the economy. When teachers are told in an election season that they must forego salary rises and that they need closer government guidance and tests of their patriotism, it's a sign they have become pawns and not partners in education. It's also a hint that money which could be used to help them is being re-allocated to a purpose judged more important. With no money or insufficient political will available to rescue a failed programme, the government is playing for time and trying to shift responsibility for the quality of education to parents and teachers.
Yet that is precisely where responsibility should lie. Parents should play a greater role in teaching children themselves and in monitoring teachers. Parents and teachers should lobby administrators for better run schools and all three together should press government for help in supplying needs and meeting goals determined locally. But in a country where 31 per cent of people live in poverty, where half the population lives in rural areas barely served by government, where at least 50 per cent of children are at risk from nutrition deficiencies and where tens of thousands die annually from malaria and tuberculosis the reality is everyone involved in lacks the time and money to make UPE successful.
Most parents are lucky to meet teachers or school administrators because they are busy working or are one of the 40 per cent who don't have a job at all for long periods each year. Most families can't afford to see their children out of primary school because farm prices or wages are stagnating. So, they look to government to provide resources and ensure quality education. But government is focussing its limited resources on infrastructure, leaving UPE under-funded, guaranteeing more failure. It's no surprise the programme has not fulfilled its purpose even though it has met some statistical targets. That developing infrastructure, addressing food security and rebuilding a public health system are the right policy choices right now only highlights the government's failure to address any of them adequately.
Policy failures and the absence of significant improvements in the economy bite harder in centralised and undemocratic regimes than in others, because governments there can't rely on the private sector to stimulate investment or to take risks. When the government is the only actor capable of delivering a programme and the government runs out of money or has more urgent needs, there is no one to take up the cause or to raise money which might make a difference.
Fixing the economy will increase the long-term chances of success for UPE in ways that bickering over numbers would never do. Lifting people out of poverty makes getting into and staying in school realistic for children in rural or low-income families.Â When those kids also have enough to eat and a safe home they are more likely to learn and remember what they learn. Then, and only then, will programme indicators like the ones in the Uwezo report or those which issue from the Uganda National Examinations Board and the Ministry of Education mean anything. For now, they are just numbers, and they make it easy to forget that the real losers over UPE are not government or teachers or parents, but children.
Prof. Michael Madill is an Adjunct Professor of Political Science at Oakton Community College, USA
QUANTITY-QUALITY TRADE-OFFS AFTER UPE: PROSPECTS AND CHALLENGES OF UNIVERSAL ACCESS IN UGANDA
By Akim Okuni
1. The Context
Uganda, like Tanzania and Kenya, is party to many international conventions and agreements regarding improving the access, equity and quality of (basic) education. The UN Millennium Development Goals declared by world leaders, including the East African Presidents, in September 2000 highlight the firm belief of the international community in the key role of achieving universal primary education (UPE) in the developing countries? efforts to alleviate/eradicate poverty. Poverty can constitute an important impediment to acquiring education and governments have long aimed to increase access to education. Considering the enormous potential of a well-educated nation in achieving economic and social well-being, the attainment of UPE is a priority development target of the Poverty Eradication Action Plan (PEAP) in Uganda, the Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper (PRSP) in Tanzania and the Report of the Task Force on Implementation of Free Primary Education in Kenya. Thus it is the UPE campaign which remains at the core of Uganda?s, Tanzania?s and Kenya?s determination to achieve ?education for all? (EFA) and sustainable development. The EFA principles of access, equity and quality for all children underpin many of the policies incorporated into the respective countries? plans for developing primary education.
This paper examines the prospects and challenges of universal access in Uganda after UPE such as: increased access/enrolment (especially of the vulnerable groups), physical facilities and teacher recruitment; extra-large classes, provision/scarcity of teaching materials, sufficient trained teachers, and high teacher attrition; maintaining quality; retaining children throughout the primary cycle/high dropout rates; the attraction of private provision of primary education if UPE schools are overcrowded; etc. The overall purpose of this paper is to assess the extent to which the benefits of EFA are being extended to all Ugandan children and whether the Dakar commitments have a realistic chance of being met by 2015, considering the trade-off between quantity and quality after UPE. In this paper we use UPE, a programme that aimed to improve access, equity and quality, and to eliminate the cost of primary education in Uganda, to explore these questions. UPE in Uganda offers an interesting case study both because it was implemented abruptly and very rapidly, and because, before this initiative, private contributions had made a major contribution to school financing which, therefore, had severely restricted access to, equity and quality of primary education.
2. UPE policy framework in Uganda
A 2025 vision for Uganda?s development formulated in 1997 incorporated a commitment to education as a development priority. The Education Strategic Investment Plan 1998-2003 Framework (ESIP) is the foundation on which this commitment was formulated over the medium term. Universalising primary education (UPE) is the government?s chief education priority. UPE is therefore central to the ESIP and the ESIP framework period (1998-2003) covers the first cycle of UPE.
UPE provides ?free? education to all primary school-going age (6-13 year old) children in Uganda on a cost-sharing arrangement whereby parents are expected to provide exercise books, pens, uniforms plus lunch at school. Originally UPE provided for ?free? primary schooling for only four children per family. The introduction of UPE led enrolment in government-aided primary schools to almost double within a year from 2.3 million in 1996, and total enrolment has continued rising up to approximately 7.3 million in 2002, up from 6.9 million in 2001. Such a huge increase in UPE enrolment has resulted in very high pupil to teacher /classroom / textbook ratios. The ESIP aimed to improve the respective ratios via: good quality and cost-effective teacher training achieved through, among other measures, the Teacher Development and Management System (TDMS) programme and rationalisation of Primary Teachers? Colleges (PTCs) by 2001; classroom building achieved through both completion of partially built classrooms and construction of new ones including improved access design for the disabled by 2003, via parallel investments of government and community utilizing local materials and resources; and ensuring access to required textbooks on a 1-book to 1-pupil basis by 2003 (ESIP 1998:6-12).
3. Prospects of universal access in Uganda
Education statistics in Uganda show that the GER, NER and NIR have risen significantly since 1996 from 80%, 57% and about 33.2% to 140.5%, 125.7% and 71.8%, respectively (see Uganda EFA 2000 Assessment Report; Education Statistical Abstract 2001; Education Sector Fact-file 2002: 1, 4; New Vision, May 12, 2003). Such extent of achievements in total enrolment, GER, NER and NIR show substantial steady progress towards ensuring the attainment of enrolment in and access to primary schooling in Uganda for all eligible children. This is all primarily due to the UPE policy launched in 1997.
Across all 12 districts and 60 sites where a second national participatory poverty assessment study was conducted between 2001-2002 (UPPAP2), UPE was highly appreciated by community members and most especially by the ?poor?, the vulnerable groups (including women, children, disabled, orphans, elderly, widows, youth, etc.), local leaders and key service providers because of improvements in access, equity and quality. Altogether, community members gave ten reasons for their strong appreciation of UPE. These are: increased access/enrolment especially of girls, disabled and the very poor; improvements in school physical facilities; improved teacher motivation; higher savings for secondary education due to reduced household expenditure on primary education; improved ?quality?; improved household hygiene; improved community discipline; reduced child labour; reduced incidence of early marriages; and establishment of more private schools (see Deepening the Understanding of Poverty 2002: 139-40). However, UPE was most deeply appreciated because of two major reasons. As one PTA committee member in Kihagani, Masindi district said, ?UPE has helped us to acquire textbooks and furniture, including desks?. Most significantly, as one poor woman explains, UPE has led to increased access and enrollment especially for the very poor:
?Formerly some of our children used to rear goats while others used to remain at a hill where they would wait to push bicycles of fishmongers and get money, but now they all go to school? (a poor woman in a community meeting in Kakabagyo, Rakai district).
4. Challenges of universal access in Uganda
Despite the success of UPE, UPPAP2 findings (like UPPAP1) raise serious concern about the implementation of the policy in Uganda. Although it is a key policy priority objective to improve considerably the quality of primary education (see ESIP 1998: 5), deterioration in quality of primary education was cited in the majority of sites across all 12 districts as the major negative effect of UPE. Deteriorating UPE quality was most frequently related to the following five negative effects of UPE: overcrowding due to extra-large classes; inadequate training, motivation, commitment and monitoring of teachers; less active and voluntary contribution by parents to primary education; less disciplinary controls and regulation (due also to the June 1997 ban on corporal punishment); and lack of housing for teachers especially in rural areas. As one local leader explained:
?How can a P7 graduate teach P7 pupils and they pass? We cannot have first grades in our schools?.? (a Local Councilor in Kitemba, Mubende district).
UPPAP2 established three major indicators of deterioration in UPE quality in Uganda, namely: the poor/low UPE output and in-puts, and the low system efficiency. The crosscutting indicator of low UPE output most frequently mentioned was the very few or declining number of PLE candidates passing in the first grade/division. However, inability to read and write or speak good English was another indicator of poor UPE output frequently cited. UPE quality was also perceived to be declining because of the many indicators of poor or low inputs, including the inadequate numbers of trained teachers and many untrained teachers, poorly motivated teachers, inadequate textbooks and other teaching aids, lack of UNEB exam centers, inadequate classrooms and desks, etc. There was also widespread concern about the policy of ?automatic promotion? of pupils to higher grades up to PLE coupled to the inability of some pupils to read and write or speak good English. ?Automatic promotion? was said to encourage emphasis on simply doing/sitting exams, and not on passing the exams. Hence, absenteeism was rife during most of the year except during end-of-year promotional exams. And, pupils thus reach PLE when still academically weak as one ?brick-maker? explained below:
?UPE emphasizes promotion rather than efficiency. It is so bad that children in UPE schools can neither read nor write their names, yet they keep on being promoted to higher classes. UPE promotes failures, for example, a child who scores 80 marks out of 400 can take the 12th position out of 600 pupils. These are all failures and yet they are promoted to the next class? (a brick makers? view of UPE quality in Busanzi B, Bugiri district).
The 2002 indicators for GER and GIR in Uganda are 140.5% and 193%, respectively. These figures suggest that there are still many pupils that begin primary schooling when they are older (or younger) than the official starting age of six years, and who repeat grades. The latter is also indicated by the increasing figures for repetition rate between 2001 and 2002 from 9.5% to 11%, and the declining figures for survival rate to the end of primary schooling from 66% to 58% over the same period. These indicate low levels of system efficiency and quality of learning in Uganda (see 2002 EFA Global Monitoring Report: 19). There is also a general sense that, in spite of a programme like UPE that is aimed to eliminate the cost of primary education, government?s effort to increase access have been heavily biased in favour of the rich and failed to make a contribution to enhancing broad and equitable access to education at the primary level (see Deininger 2000:2-3). UPPAP2 findings show that high financial costs were the most frequently cited reason for absenteeism and dropping out. Parents from different backgrounds and livelihoods (e.g. rural, urban, pastoral, fishing, etc.) said they are unhappy with the extra-UPE charges because they stop some children from attending UPE. The categories of children most affected were especially the destitute, those from relatively large but poor households, orphans, and those belonging to the marginal urban poor. For example, one local leader had this to say:
?If some parents cannot provide books and pens to their children, how can they pay such PTA fees? For parents who have 4, 5 or more children at school, how can they afford the building fees per child, all the maize per child and all the milling fees per child? And yet they send our children back home for non-payment of those fees. We have no choice but to keep our children in the village and cut sugarcane? (a male Local Councilor (village) official in a Focus Group Discussion, Lwitamakoli, Jinja district).
And, UPPAP2 findings indicate that community perceptions of the impact of private schools on government-aided UPE schools were mixed. Although the general perception was that private schools have reduced distances to school in some cases, reduced overcrowding in some schools and are offering better quality of schooling/education given the relatively smaller class sizes, better teacher salaries/incentives, and lesser teacher absenteeism, etc., some communities said that the attraction of private provision of primary education has a negative impact on UPE schools (see MoFPED (October 2002), Internal Synthesis Document 3: PPA2 Cycles 1, 2 & 3 Findings (Draft), Kampala, UPPAP, pp. 274-5). Private schools were accused of encouraging theft and illegal sale of textbooks supplied by government in support of UPE to private providers therefore causing perpetual scarcity of textbooks and high pupil per textbook ratio. They were also blamed for the high teacher attrition and/or absenteeism from UPE schools, therefore causing the deterioration of the quality of UPE. Primary teachers, especially in the rural areas, have been abandoning the profession at a rate of 35% over the last three years (2000-2002) (see New Vision May 19, 2003:32).
5. UPE policy analysis and its implications for EFA targets in Uganda
Analysis of the UPE policy in Uganda reveals there is welcome evidence of some success in achieving a key policy priority objective and strategy of improving access, equity and physical facilities expansion at the primary level. The policy shift during 2002 from FOUR children per family, as earlier stipulated when the UPE policy was first launched, to ALL children has made a significant contribution, and partly this strategy may in the long run turn out to be critical to sustaining progress towards and to achieving the UPE goal by 2015. However, the major challenge facing UPE in Uganda is the deteriorating quality mainly due to poor or low inputs especially teachers and teaching materials including textbooks, overcrowding due to extra-large classes and lack of inspection/monitoring of teachers, and due to low system efficiency especially the high rate of absenteeism/dropping out and the widespread practice of ?automatic promotion?.
UPPAP2 found out that inadequate training, motivation, commitment and monitoring of teachers, lack of housing for teachers especially in rural areas, extra-large classes due to few teachers and the negative influence of private schools, among others, were most frequently related to the deteriorating quality of UPE in Uganda. Therefore, motivating teachers to work in public schools, especially in rural and difficult-to-live-in areas, and improving supervision and monitoring by district school inspectors are among the strategies that may prove vital to sustaining progress towards and to achieving the ?quality? EFA goal by 2015. This was also the most frequently mentioned community recommendation to improve UPE quality in Uganda (see Deepening the Understanding of Poverty 2002: 156).
Overcrowding due to extra-large classes has implications for the state of school physical facilities as well. So far, much has already been achieved in the expansion of school physical facilities in Uganda, especially the construction of classrooms. Nevertheless, although some sort of building is necessary for a school to operate effectively, some studies (see, e.g., Fuller 1987; McGinn & Borden 1995:18, 78) show little or no relationship between the quality of buildings and student learning. If pupils learn as much in inexpensive schools, government should build less expensive schools so that saved resources can be used on other relevant aspects of quality including motivating and training/recruiting more teachers. After all, the Classroom Completion Grant (CCG) and School Facility Grant (SFG) funds provided by central government have been the centre of widespread corrupt practices in Uganda including: diversion of funds by local governments and hence delays in remitting UPE grants to schools; irregularities and delays in the tendering process by local governments and urban authorities tender boards; district technocrats and officials conniving with contractors to do shoddy construction work, etc. (see New Vision May 14, 15, 19, 2003: 3, 4, 30-31, respectively). Besides, ESIP stipulates that construction of new classrooms is to be achieved mainly via parallel investments of government and community utilizing local materials and resources. However, UPPAP2 found out that deteriorating UPE quality was also frequently related to the less active and voluntary contribution by parents to primary education following the introduction of UPE. Therefore, government ought to consider seriously re-sensitizing parents/guardians both about their responsibilities under UPE, including the policy requirement that they retain responsibility for the expansion of primary classrooms, and about the overall value of their contribution towards improving UPE quality.
High financial costs were the most frequently cited reason for absenteeism and dropping out. UPE regulations in Uganda prohibit turning away from school children that default on the UPE-related charges and especially uniforms, scholastic materials and lunch at school fees. The Ministry of Education and Sports needs to devise a feasible mechanism for enforcing this regulation because UPPAP2 found that children without scholastic materials and/or uniform were turned way from school in very many cases. Government finds the policy of ?automatic promotion? expedient perhaps because Uganda has both high levels of enrolment and of grade repetition and dropout. However, there is widespread concern about this policy. It is noteworthy that internal efficiency can be symbolically improved by automatic promotion, but a real improvement in quality of learning requires attention to the causes of low learning in school. Remedial work designed to help failing pupils to succeed can be carried out by teachers, or by pupil peers. But remediation requires an adequate understanding of the failing students? learning problems. Therefore, unless a specific policy framework and strategy for implementing automatic promotion is designed and effected, the widespread haphazard practice of automatic promotion in Uganda threatens to undermine the progress made so far or likely to be made in the future towards achieving the quality education goal by 2015.
Deininger, K. (July 2000), ?Does cost of schooling affect enrolment by the poor?
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Fuller, B.W (1987), ?What factors raise achievement in the Third World?? in
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