MBALE — A government aided secondary school under Universal Secondary Education with 1374 students has only seven classrooms for the students to study.
Although it is clear that classroom shortages can have a significant impact on student learning outcomes, reducing access to education, lowering academic achievement, and creating poor learning environments, in Bukonde SS on average 196 students occupy a classroom.
According to Mr Abubakar Masifa, the head teacher of the school, the advent of the government programme of USE saw many a parent send students to the school but that the school has never received any government funding to build classrooms.
Mr Masifa adds that even when the government is aware that education means more than just teaching a student to read, write, and manipulate numbers, it is yet to give Bukonde SS classroom blocks from its funding.
“And with lack of classrooms and other school facilities, the school has failed to accommodate the needs of the students. We now use tents and when it rains heavily, children abandon the tents to crowd in the few classrooms we have,” said Mr Masifa.
Bukonde SS is an Islamic government founded school that started in 1984 and has a total of 24 teachers, 13 of them are on the government payroll while the rest are not, it runs as an Advanced level day school in Mbale City.
Although it is also true that crowded classrooms impede students from getting the attention they need from the classroom teacher, interfere with student learning, especially when unruly students take advantage of the situation and become disruptive. , the parents, teachers and the head teacher have nothing to do but look upon the government to rescue them.
A teacher who asked for anonymity revealed that shy students or introverts have ended up suffering in the school environment because they may not be comfortable asking questions or volunteering information.
Mr Masifa revealed that the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund [UNICEF] provided emergency education support that included tarpaulin tents which they are serving as classrooms.
“These new high-performance tents from UNICEF are part of our commitment as a school to ensure that every child continues receiving an education,” said Mr Masifa.
The Mbale City principal Education Officer Ms Linus Nasimiyu consented there was a problem of lack of classrooms at Bukonde SS but declined to delve in details.
On 20 April 2023, parliament approved a budget of Shs 15 billion by the Committee on Education and Sports to renovate/facelift traditional schools across the country, unfortunately Bukonde SS is not among them.
The Committee on Education and Sports in their report presented by the Chairperson of the Committee, Mr John Twesigye Ntamuhiira, noted that a number of traditional schools in different parts of the country were grappling with both dilapidated and inadequate infrastructure but did not think about those that have never received any funding for classrooms from government like Bukonde SS.
Mr Masifa revealed that research has shown that the lack of classrooms in overpopulated schools limits the quality and quantity of interactions between the teachers and students as well as on the quality of teaching and learning.
“We are appealing to Mama Janet Museveni through the ministry of education and sports to give us even one classroom block because we have never received any classroom block from the government since the school started in 1984,” said Mr Masifa.
Mr Abu Malunda, the chairman Board for the school said shortages of classrooms needs to be treated worthy of the attention of our government if students are to achieve anything from the teaching and learning process.
“Lack of classrooms is a problem, government needs to take action. As a school we have lost the chance of having students studying comfortably without distractions and hindrances,” said Mr Malunda.
Latest figures from the Uganda Bureau of Statistics (UBoS) coalesced under the 2015 Statistical Abstract show that two thirds of the country’s districts have perilously large school classes, exceeding the national average of 58 students.
Why class size matters!
The situation in this school should be of particular concern to the government of Uganda and research speaks to this. A 2014 report by UNESCO, the United Nations agency for education notes that, in the African context, classes exceeding 70 pupils have a negative effect on children’s learning: “when classes reach this critical size, the learning outcomes are generally negative.”
“It is generally recognized that larger classes result in lower educational achievements, especially in the early years of schooling,” says the report.
“Large classes can be difficult for teachers to manage, may result in the adoption of less effective methods of teaching, and often limit the amount of individual attention and guidance students receive,” the report adds. Ends
About Bukonde SS
Bukonde SS started as a community school by Muslims and was taken over by the government in 1984 but ever since, it has not received any building block from the government. The school has not laboratories to enhance science learning and has no library.