The newly opened Seed secondary schools in several districts are struggling to operate due to an apparent shortage of staff and basic equipment.
The government through the World Bank-funded program of the Intergovernmental Fiscal Transfers-UgIFT undertook to to support the decentralization of services in education by constructing seed secondary schools where they were nonexistent.
The program is intended to expand the coverage of universal secondary education by extending service closer to learners while giving priority to sub-counties that lacked a government secondary.
Last year, the Ministry of Education and Sports operationalized 117 seed schools that had stalled over the last years. But due to COVID-19 induced school closures, the schools did not open their gates to learners until this year.
Despite the fact that these schools cost an average of Shillings 2.3 billion to build, the government is yet to deploy adequate human resources to attend to students. One of the affected schools is Bukakata seed school in the Masaka district.
Almost, a month after the school reopening, Bukakata seed school is unable to provide services despite the great demand for secondary education in its catchment area. Gerard Nsambu, the Masaka District Inspector of Schools, says that Bukakata seed school couldn’t start without teachers.
He adds the Ministry of Education and Sports has promised to send them teachers on February 21st, 2022 to allow studies to commence. In the meantime, Nsambu says the Ministry has asked them to register students as they wait for the teachers to report for duty.
Unlike Bukakata Seed secondary schools, several other schools visited by our report have a skeleton staff, which is also affecting learning activities since the few teachers are unable to teach all the subjects.
Ssanyu Bbaale, the Director of Studies at Lukaya Seed Secondary School in Kalungu district reveals that the school opened without enough teachers including those for compulsory subjects. She explains that of the required three English teachers, the government only sent them one teacher who is struggling with the heavy workload.
The other subjects without teachers are; Agriculture, Swahili language and Computer studies. The school also lacks a Librarian. “This isn’t a primary school where a single teacher is responsible for all subjects. Students have been missing out on numerous fundamental classes since the school reopened. We are not sure when the government will deploy more instructors,” she said.
To fill the gap, Bbaale says that they have been forced to contract private teachers who are offering part-time services. She however indicates these are also not reliable because the school can’t afford to promptly pay them.
At Luwube Muslim Seed Secondary School in Luwero district, the Headteacher Yasin Muwonge says that they are yet to get a number of teachers in core subjects. Muwonge says that although the school has been able to attract 407 students in its first term, they currently lack teachers in Agriculture, Fine Art, Mathematics, Physical Education and Biology among other subjects.
“These are core subjects, teachers in these fields are a must-have. However, I regret to inform you that we don’t have this human resource, a factor which is greatly affecting the learning process at a time when learners are coming out of unprecedented school closure,” Muwonge said.
Although Techno Three company handed over the school premises in January this year after construction, the commissioning function scheduled for this week was postponed because some equipment had not been delivered. Among the equipment missing are computers.
Sometime in 2020, Sam Kuloba, the Commissioner of Secondary Education noted that all the newly constructed schools were to receive teachers by January 2021. However, nearly a year has gone by and the government has not yet appointed teachers to work in these areas.
According to the recently released auditor general’s report, there was delayed deployment or recruitment of secondary school teachers for these seed schools, which the ministry says was a result of the COVID-19 pandemic as they could not carry out interviews.
However, Ketty Lamaro, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Education and Sports, says that the recruitment process is in its last stages and they expect that very soon teachers will be available. “The education service commission is now busy shortlisting potential candidates. After the process we will get teachers to deploy at the seed schools,” she noted.
She however didn’t give a deadline on when this process is expected to end. Apart from teachers, many seed schools lack necessary equipment such as furniture, while others began with only a few classrooms.
Gordon Wanema, the headteacher of Wabinyonyi Seed Secondary School in Nakasongola district, claimed that despite the Education Service Commission posting all essential teachers in 2021, the school still operates with inadequate classrooms and furnishings.
The school has registered 338 students, but Wanema claims there aren’t enough classrooms for S.3 and S.5 classes.
“There are just two classroom blocks in the school comprising four classrooms. We also have science and computer labs, but no equipment, despite the fact that the courses are required,” Wanema told our reporter.
In Mbale District, Bubentsye Seed Secondary School suffers comparable issues to Wabinyonyi. Boaz Kamuli, the Mbale District Education Officer, says although the school opened, it is still under construction which means that some facilities are not available yet they are needed for the teaching-learning activities.
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