Story written By Annet Ntambi
In this part II of the state of government schools carried out by Uganda Debt Network in partnership with Red Pepper, we visited and interviewed Rose Akaki, the Principal of St. Noa Mawaggali Busuubizi Core Primary Teachers College, one of the leading teacher training colleges located in Mityana district.
Our visiting of the college was informed by the need to find out the environment in which the teachers are trained, but also the kind of training they receive. We also wanted to find out the kind of students/teachers to be are admitted and how the quality of teachers can affect performance of schools.
Akaki says like other government teacher training colleges in the country, Busuubizi Teachers College admits students who completed and passed O level or those who finished A’ level but failed to make it to the University or other higher institutions of learning. But most importantly, a student must have passed at least six subjects; a pass in English, Math, two science subjects and any other two.
However, Akaki says the policy of the minimum entry qualification requirement being a pass is weak since it does not specify which pass and this affects the quality of teachers.
“You find that you are admitting a student who got a pass eight in the same class as one who scored a credit. Many of these students continue to perform poorly throughout college and the result is poor teachers. Even the pupils who go through their hands may not get good teaching and will most likely perform poorly even up to secondary,” Akaki said.
Akaki adds that even those who join the college after O level, many of them do so after failing to make it to A’ level and so teaching comes as their last resort.
Others, she adds, are brought to colleges by their parents because they cannot afford to continue paying school fees [since government teacher training colleges don’t charge fees].
“Such students are very hard to deal with since they are doing a course that is not their choice and they feel disappointed by their parents. This partly explains why some teachers do neglect their job because their passion was not in teaching, despite their stay in college for two years,” she said.
However, in order to help such students, the college offers counseling and guidance to all students who are enrolled.
“As soon as a student is admitted, he/she is assigned a family that is headed by a tutor to ensure they are monitored and come out as real teachers,” she said, adding that the college has an outreach program in which coordinating Centre Tutors (CCT’s) are placed in different places to supervise teachers in their respective schools.
“We have 24 tutors dotted in schools within our catchment area comprising of Kyankwanzi, Kiboga, Mubende and Mityana districts,” she said.
The tutors go in class, teach and identify any gaps and devise strategies to address the gaps, she explained, adding that they also identify particular weaknesses in teachers and give them support, help head teachers on how to conduct themselves, and sensitize the community and parents on the need to support the pupils and teachers.
“The problem is that the tutors are few as compared to the large catchment area within which they have to operate,” said Opio Baziliyo, the deputy Outreach Program officer.
The college lacks enough tutors especially for early childhood education and Information Communication Technology (ICT).
Akaki says the budget does not also cater for non-teaching staff members like the security personnel and cooks. The college has to use part of the little grant to pay salary to these people.
Another biggest challenge facing the institute is the high cost of running the college.
“Government gives us a grant of UShs2200 per student per day yet students only pay UShs50, 000 per year for electricity and water. This money cannot be enough to run the daily needs of the college,” Akaki revealed.
Other Skills to Teachers
Other than teaching, students are also equipped with skills in practical agriculture which is part of the curriculum. The school has a large banana plantation and a farm attended to by the students. This is to help teachers earn an extra income after college, besides teaching.