The Ugandan Cabinet has given its approval for the allocation of more than Shs1.4 trillion in additional funding to the Universal Primary Education (UPE) program. This decision was presented by First Lady Janet Kataha, also the Education Minister, to address various challenges within the UPE program, including a shortage of teachers.
As per the Ministry of Education’s records, there are currently 12,433 UPE schools in Uganda, accommodating 136,819 teachers and 8,624,264 students. The proposed funding aims to recruit an additional 70,000 teachers, which would reduce the teacher-learner ratio from 1 teacher per 53 learners to a more manageable 1 teacher per 40 learners.
Dr. Dennis Mugimba, the Ministry of Education and Sports spokesperson, confirmed this development. He explained that the recruitment of approximately 78,888 primary teachers is planned to achieve the desired pupil-teacher ratio by the 2024/25 fiscal year in these UPE schools.
One of the key issues leading to parents contributing to contract staff wages is the inadequate number of teachers in schools. Dr. Mugimba emphasized that with the recruitment of more teachers, schools will no longer need to hire additional contract staff, alleviating the financial burden on parents.
The process of recruiting additional primary school teachers is expected to commence in the next financial year. The First Lady has already made a request to the Ministry of Finance to provide Shs309 billion, which was approved by the Cabinet, to enhance the quality of free primary education by July 2024. Part of this allocation will go towards hiring more primary school teachers.
Dr. Mugimba further revealed that on March 17, Ms. Museveni secured Cabinet approval for an additional Shs1.48 trillion to support UPE from the fiscal year 2024/2025 to 2027/2028, with an initial allocation of Shs309.16 billion for the first year.
Besides increasing teacher recruitment, there will also be a boost in funding for local government monitoring and school inspections. This step aims to ensure a more robust education system.
According to the Ministry of Education’s records, Uganda currently has 12,433 UPE schools, 136,819 teachers, and 8,624,264 students. Once the proposed teacher recruitment is implemented, the number of primary school teachers in UPE schools is expected to rise to 215,707. This significant increase in teacher numbers will reduce the teacher-learner ratio to 1 teacher for every 40 learners, significantly enhancing the quality of education.
A head teacher from an UPE school in eastern Uganda, speaking anonymously, welcomed the government’s decision, highlighting its potential to address the understaffing issue they have been grappling with. Additionally, the decision will relieve schools from the burden of convincing parents to pay contract teachers.
Mr. Baguma Filbert, the General Secretary of the Uganda National Teachers Union, commended the government for considering the recruitment of more teachers. He stressed the importance of motivating these teachers to ensure effective education delivery, ultimately benefiting innocent children who have long suffered from understaffed schools.