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Who is to blame for the mess in Education? UNEB, NCDC in spotlight!

UNEB has also administered exams marred with lots and lots lots irregularities, ranging from ambiguity to wrong use of Language.

EDUCATION NEWS UGANDA – Challenging the existing status quo has never been easy, since the system of any kind, in any context-will strive at preserving the status quo, by all means possible. Having spent close to twenty years in the field of education, and having interacted with a number of people, I feel obliged to share my knowledge, findings, and expertise on the mess in education sector caused by Uneb and ncdc

The trio will form a basis upon which my conclusions and recommendations shall be made. Hopefully, this account will raise the desired level of awareness among the general public and initiate debate which, in turn, might bring about the desired change within the education sector, focusing at an amendment in the current practices design. In the end, the beneficiaries will be all of us-ourselves, our children, the society as a whole-who will live a better, and competitive life.

Among the core principles of the Toyota Production System (TPS), the system upon Toyota Motor Company (TMC), has thrived since 1936, is “Improve quality by exposing the wrong.”

This means, emphasis at Toyota is on speaking the truth. Whether they are in manufacturing production, or administrative processes, defects cannot be eliminated, unless their causes are properly and thoroughly identified at the source. Little will come from the effort, once defects are allowed to travel unchecked through manufacturing, marketing, purchasing, or administration. Like Napoleon I, said, “the world suffers a lot not because of the violence of bad people, but because of the silence of good people.”

Your Excellency, by, and large there are serious issues in the Ministry of
Education and Sports, that necessitate your intervention, if a lasting solution is to be established. Unlike Coronavirus, detected-2019 (COVID-19), these have been on since 1986. In fact, some you inherited.

Article (4) of the Educationist Act, talks about the responsibility of government in private institutions, and it reads, in par: “The responsibility of government in private institutions shall be to ensure that private education institutions conform to the rules and regulations governing the provision of education services in Uganda.”

Your Excellency, kindly go through my observations, to establish whether this noble task has been ever achieved, even half way, by whoever has been at the helm of the Education Ministry.

In Uganda, private education institutions are at liberty to pay their staff, or not. Many of them pay their teachers using the piece rate method of payment. It is common practice to find teachers being paid for only 9 months in private schools. As a routine several private schools do not pay their teachers/workers for the months of December and January. In May and August holidays, the same are paid only half way their salary.

Truth is, examinations mal-practice, starts here. Your Excellency, while a science teacher in a public school is assured of his/her 7-digit pay check, of Shs. 2M at the end of every month, his/her counterpart in a private school will count him/herself blessed to walk back home with Shs. 250,000/-.

Truth is, a number of private schools miserably pay their teachers. The situation in primary schools is appauling, Your Excellency.

I suggest all private schools submit their pay rolls to your office sir, for scrutiny.

Don’t be surprised to find teachers who were last paid in November, 2019. Truth be told, you will find your darling science teachers with a take home of as low as Shs. 100,000/-, moreover, paid to them in installments.

Meanwhile, schools of this nature have a tendency of hiring UNEB examiners, usually in term 3, specifically, to drill their students for exams.

This is yet another source of examinations mal-practice. Such schools fail to pay their teachers well, but can afford to part off with huge sums of money in the name of paying individuals who they believe will make them get the grades they need.

My take on this, is, the public service salary should be the threshold for all private education institutions in the country. The Education Act should be amended to provide room for government take over management of all those institutions that cannot pay teachers the equivalent of government. While it is okay for one to pay their teachers much more than government, it must be an offence for one to pay below the government threshold. At the beginning of the lockdown, a letter of one of the most prominent private universities in Uganda was circulated on WhatsApp, advising staff to use their April salary sparingly, since there was no assurance for salary thereafter. Your Excellency, such an arrangement cannot give us the quality of graduates we need, as a country. Besides, I believe the pay for lecturers in private universities is so low compared to their counterparts in public universities.

Imagine a Professor earning Shs. 15M in a public University, while his/her counterpart in a private University is being paid the equivalent of a science secondary school teacher, i.e., Shs. 2M.

Your Excellency, it is crystal clear that in the end, performance in the private universities will be compromised. To the extreme, lecturers might even resort to giving out marks for money, hence breeding examinations mal-practice. The findings in tertiary institutions are not any different. Your Excellency, these two should submit their pay rolls to you. Surely, why should the National Council for Higher Education (NCHE) accredit and even charter a University that cannot pay a Professor at least shs. 5M as salary per month? By and large, if the quality of our graduates is to be improved, then private universities should pay their lecturers, an equivalent of their counterparts in government universities.

The quality of journalism has declined because of the way journalists are trained of late. Business and vocational schools are teaching journalism. Beauty and cosmetology institutions are teaching journalism, too.

SUNDAY LETTER TO PRESIDENT: Why UNEB’s Dan Odong and NCDC’s Grace Baguma must go

Since when did journalism become a business, vocational, or cosmetology course? Who accredited it to be taught under such institutions at NCHE? It is common practice to find someone referring to themselves as a journalist after studying a course unit under journalism, “radio and television production.

“This is happening with so many courses, even at University. Whoever is doing this at NCHE is doing this country a disservice.

Students should study from institutions they are meant to study from, and they should study a complete course, not merely a course unit. For heaven’s sake, why has NCHE accredited business, vocational, and beauty schools to teach nursery school teachers?Since when did teaching become a business, vocational, or cosmetology course?

Your Excellency, our training as teachers is totally different from the rest of the professions, the reason we should train from designated training colleges. Therefore, the training of nursery teachers should be transferred to primary teacher colleges. There are business and vocational institutions conducting driving lessons, officially; do these have permission from the Ministry of Works and Transport to perform the task? And has NCHE accredited this course?

Your Excellency, I am of the view that driving lessons should be strictly reserved for designated driving schools, and not any other. Private schools have turned parents into their banana plantations. Some of the proprietors of these schools believe that all their problems should be solved by the parents.

These schools not only charge exorbitant tuition fees, but they still load the parent with extra charges such as development fees, admission fees, library and computer fees, school uniform, etc. Your Excellency, in some of these schools, the school uniform is much more expensive than a wedding suit/gown.

Be informed that some of these “bazzukulu” put on uniforms far much expensive than your suits. But all this is happening in the face of the Education Ministry. What was initially teaching has now been replaced with Fast Foods Education as Nobert Mao, the President General of the Democratic Party (DP) once described it.

“We are in KFC education,.

“People are now reading Question and Answer, and this is the reason why even examinations mal-practice is on the increase,” remarked another scholar who preferred anonymity.

These two assertions are not far-fetched, for they are supported by John Chrystom Muyingo and Rosemary Sseninde, the state ministers for higher and primary education, respectively. “Teaching nowadays is geared towards passing exams and those schools have excessive trial examinations,” the duo said.

Your Excellency, as a consequence of this, parents and your grandchildren, have paid the price. Assessment has taken over teaching, since schools have to grill the students ahead of their final exams. These children are given test after the other, assignment after assignment, exam after exam, mock after mock, name it. Teachers set tight deadlines and pass marks, and those children who fail to fit in are severely punished, mainly in the form of beating. Needless to emphasize the fact that these tests and exams are heavily paid for by parents. Head teachers have a tendency of turning those teachers who fail to hit the target into punching bags. Teachers have to explain why all students in a particular subject failed to score distinctions.

Your Excellency, in most of these schools failing to register first grades is equivalent to committing treason. During the course of the year, as an ordinary teacher, you can hardly see and/or meet any member of the board. However, a full board congregates purposely to grill those teachers who could have failed to make students pass the previous year’s UNEB examinations. To the extreme, some have to lose their jobs. Your Excellency, on average, for every 10 teachers, in private schools, 3 have to lose their jobs whenever UNEB results are released.

Arguably, the pressure for first grades, has largely compromised the country’s education system, and as a result, it has escalated the vice of examinations mal-practice.

Your Excellency, these exams are leaked way before they are actually done. Examinations mal-practice starts as soon as examiners report back from marking. During this period schools fire some of their teachers and replace them with UNEB examiners.

It is a principal requirement, Your Excellency, for one to attach their UNEB invitation letter as an examiner when applying for a job in most of these private schools. The same applies to teachers not on pay roll in public schools. Today every school, urban or rural is struggling to have a UNEB examiner per subject/paper speak to their students before their final exams. Because these do not come out cheap, many high-cost schools are usually left out. In some schools these examiners simply talk to the candidates, and elsewhere, examinations, described as “resourceful mocks” are administered by the same.

“From my own perspective, I believe this has been solely left to the whims of individual schools to source for “facilitators” who themselves don’t come cheap, and in the event that a particular school cannot afford afford their services, students are left with no option, but to go in for their examinations, without having the opportunity to listen to a UNEB examiner,” said one witness.

In a way, this automatically breeds examinations mal-practice, since now individual students with the aid of their parents, and teachers, begin looking out for individual solutions to the problem. This is how what UNEB describes as fake examinations papers begin to circulate.

Your Excellency, this person suggested that, if the ongoing “facilitation” in schools is the official position of the Ministry, then, together with UNEB, they should come out and play a pivotal role whereby as a bare minimum, all schools, countryside, are given an opportunity to have access to these “facilitators”, funded by the government, after all, each student pays UNEB fees, before sitting for their final exams. Notice the time immemorial, UNEB has also administered exams marred with lots and lots of lots irregularities, ranging from ambiguity to wrong use of Language.

By and large, UNEB exams contain a number of errors that one wonders how they are marked. Questions are designed using wrong tenses, prepositions, articles, verbs, etc., and at the end of the day, the blame is shifted to the learner.

“If a question is wrong, how do you then expect someone to answer it? How can someone be right on a wrong question?’ asked Amiri, a parent with a child in high school. It is high time UNEB took keen note of the following remarks: “If you do not ask the right questions, you cannot get the right answers.

A question asked in the right way, often points to it’s own answer diagnosis. Only the inquiring mind solves problems,” Edward Hodnett.

The issue of examinations mal-practice in national examinations is becoming an issue of national concern. The leakage of the 2017 examinations at both the primary and secondary school level, is still fresh on I people’s minds.

To-date I do not know the reason why UNEB insisted on administering exams it had been massively rigged.

Your Excellency, in 2018 examinations were leaked in Zambia, and they were all cancelled, and fresh ones administered. I, therefore, suggest, in future, should we experience the leakage of 2017, let exams be cancelled, for there is only one solution for a leaked exam-cancelling it.

And unless a
Commission of Inquiry is set up to investigate the issue of examinations mal-practice, the vice might go on till the next Century.

(To be continued in part 11)

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