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Gov’t to sponsor non-graduate teachers for degrees courses

Teachers with lower qualifications both in public and private schools will have a period of ten years to meet the new standards.

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | The Ministry of Education and Sports will offer free in-service programmes to enable teachers of lower qualifications to upgrade to the required degree level.

The new National Teacher Policy now requires that all teachers, right from nursery, must have at least a bachelor’s degree as their minimum education qualification. This means lower qualifications from certificate to diploma are going to be phased out.

According to the ministry’s action plan, teachers with lower qualifications both in public and private schools who are willing to remain in service will have a period of ten years to meet the new standards.

The State Minister in charge of Higher Education Dr John Muyingo clarifies that although the government is phasing out the qualification, they are looking at ways of helping those holding them upgrade to the required standards.

Muyingo adds that one of the available options at the moment will be offering free in-service programmes. The in-service training for teachers was introduced in 1994 in a project dubbed Teacher Development Management Systems-TDMS, with the sole aim of supporting and enhancing the professional development of teachers.

Through the project, teachers use holidays to go and upgrade their academic qualifications and keep at their duty stations during the term. This allows them to train without acquiring study leaves or affecting the teaching-learning process at their respective schools.

According to Muyingo’s explanation, when the phasing out of the qualification starts, the government through the Uganda National Institute of Teacher Education-UNITE will have a mechanism of mass enrollment of teachers to start upgrading.

However, Muyingo says that there are still discussions at the ministry on how this would be implemented as it requires extra resources whose source is currently unavailable.

“There are several other issues that need to be discussed. For instance, how will these teachers be enrolled? You know that many of them might rush on the first intake yet we might not have such space. And then where will the government get the resources to fund them. All that needs to be discussed,” he added.

Carol Kavuma, the coordinator of UNITE establishment taskforce says that affected teachers will not have more than ten years for them to upgrade. Kavuma says that it would be wise if teachers with the qualification shortage in question start planning on how they will upgrade before it’s too late.

“You either shape or ship out,” says Kavuma. “Of course those who will not upgrade will cease to be teachers. This is not the first time the government is phasing out a qualification in the teaching profession. In the past, we used to have grade II teachers. Those who refused to upgrade then were removed from the system.”

Some teachers have welcomed the idea of the government supporting their upgrade. Gyaviira Tamale, a Grade III Mathematics teacher, notes that all along many teachers wanted to upgrade, they were hampered by the high tuition required by institutions.

“With the very little salaries we get, it’s difficult for some of us to have any funds saved for upgrading,” says Tamale. “Schools in rural areas are paying teachers below 200,000 shillings, on top of which you must pay rent, food, and school fees for your children.”

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