Filbert Baguma, the Secretary General – UNATU
Both public and private teachers’ unions have tasked the Ministry of Education and Sports to review the transition process that has been placed to achieve the minimum qualification for teachers in the country.
This month, the government embarked on implementation of the 2019 National Teacher Policy which among other things looks at teacher education in the country and calls for all teachers – regardless of the level one is teaching – to acquire a bachelor’s degree in education as a minimum qualification.
According to the policy, teachers currently holding lower qualification of Grade III and V Certificates are required to move towards acquisition of graduate training and specialize under respective categories; pre-primary, primary and secondary. The policy gives these teachers and their counterparts who are still in training institutions a grace period of ten years to match up to the required standards.
The leadership of Uganda National Teacher’s Union (UNATU) and the Uganda Private Teachers Union (UPTU) however argues that the ten-year period given might not be favorable to teachers, more so those who are currently at Grade III and those who had acquired nursery teachers training.
Under current arrangement, for a grade III teacher to attain a degree, he or she must first acquire a diploma to match the equivalent of A ‘level which is the minimum requirement for admission for a degree programme in Uganda.
Juma Mwamula, the secretary general UPTU, says that current grade III teachers should be allowed to directly enroll for degree programmes. He says if this is not done, the process of acquiring a degree will be long and tedious.
“The national teacher institute should design special programmes for these teachers at their levels. if someone spent two years training as a teacher after O’level. His qualification can be equated to senior six and he or she is admitted to a degree programme,” says Mwamula.
He adds that given the fact that many teachers will be studying in-service (during holidays), attaining a diploma tasks them a minimum of three years after which they will be enrolled for a bachelor in education spending at the university or teacher’s institute for another four years.
Mwamula also notes that many teachers are currently financially stressed and also have other responsibilities like carrying for their families and paying school fees for their children. To him many teachers might not think of upgrading not until 2023.
Gyaviira Tamale, private teacher at KY primary school in Masaka, notes that although many teachers might want to upgrade if the upgrading process is not softened, many might give up and opt out.
“If the current upgrading system is not changed, a Grade III teacher will need a minimum of seven years in school trying to get the required qualification. That’s a lot of time. Having left school many years ago, not many people can accept spending more than seven years in school. They should be a way of working this out,” says Tamale.
Filbert Baguma, the Secretary General UNATU, also suggests that to speed up the upgrading process, the ministry might choose to design a one year course for the Grade III teachers to have an equivalent of senior six so that the time they might spend in upgrading is reduced.
Baguma adds that they are also seeking to discuss with the government on possible ways teachers can be financially supported to upgrade to the desired qualification.
According to the transition arrangements on implementation of the teacher policy, the government suggested that the current grade iii and v teachers in the system will be supported to acquire graduate training subject to availability of funds.
In a recent interview with Uganda radio Network – URN, the state minister in charge of higher education Dr. John Chrysestom Muyingo noted that the ministry is looking for funds which will help them finance the affected teachers upgrade to the required standards.