The First Lady and Minister of Education and Sports Mrs. Janet Museveni has said that the achievements so far made by the Uganda Teacher and School Effectiveness Project (UTSEP) funded by the Global Partnership for Education are commendable.

She particularly appreciated the Early Grade Reading, which she said will help improve quality of reading and understanding in primary education. She argued that when children begin to learn in their mother tongues, it helps them to understand very quickly and as they go up in higher classes, they learn foreign languages as subjects. “We are very happy with Early Grade Reading and Government will ensure that it is mainstreamed and implemented across the country”, she said.

She pointed out that the teachers who have been trained under UTSEP will definitely improve on the quality of teaching and the learning outcomes and also said the supply of hearing aids to children with special needs is really good and a necessary addition to the education system.

Mrs. Janet Museveni, who was together with senior officials from the Ministry of Education and Sports, was meeting with the World Bank UTSEP Mission Team at State House Nakasero on Friday to receive feedback on the findings from their recent assessment of the progress of the project.

She noted that the Uganda Teacher and School Effectiveness Project has helped the Education Sector improve on some of the things it was doing before like the inspection of schools, training of teachers and the construction of classrooms among others. “There are a number of things that have been added to our normal system of education that is really going to help and we will make sure that what we started in this project will be sustained”, she said.

She was thankful for the nine months extension accorded to the Project that was initially scheduled to end in June 2019, saying this will allow the pending activities to be concluded properly.

The World Bank UTSEP Mission Task Team Leader Kirill Vasiliev reported that most of the main indicators in the project have been achieved, while some are even over achieved.  He cited the Early Grade Learning which has been achieved by 27% against the target of 20% of children who can read 20 words or more per minute in their local languages. The number of pupils per textbook has also improved to two children per textbook, he said and hoped that soon each child will have a textbook to himself or herself. He also noted positive improvement in teacher presence in class and teaching, the percentage of children in P.2 or P.3 who can recognize 4 out of 5 words increasing from 47% to 59% in the project supported schools in 29 Districts and that the construction of new schools is on track though with a bit of delay in the procurement of furniture.

He called for close attention towards the contract management and the need to ensure that the contractors quickly fix the defects identified in the constructed schools.

The Education Ministry Permanent Secretary Alex Kakooza appreciated the World Bank UTSEP Mission Team assessments that make the project implementors get back in line and improve. He requested that since the Project has achieved most of the indicators, World Bank should consider paying back funds that the project didn’t get when we failed to agree on the procurement of furniture guidelines.

Aggrey Kibenge, the Education Ministry’s Undersecretary reiterated commitment to sustainability in terms of good lessons that have been generated in the process of implementing the UTSEP. He cited lesson such as teacher effectiveness, time on task, integrated inspection and online submission of reports among others.

The World Bank Team and the Education Ministry officials also discussed the findings in the Uganda Economic Update report that was launched on 27th May 2019.

Moarad Ezzine the World Bank Advisor in the Global Education Practice and Mission Co-Task team leader said the report calls for more investment in the human capital for Uganda’s high economic growth to be sustained. He said, this calls for Uganda to gradually increase funding for the education sector for the next six years up to 16% of the National Budget to enable the sector improve the quality of education and persistence of children at the primary level and increased enrollment for secondary education.

Among what the World Bank report recommends to improve quality of learning and persistence at primary level is Early Childhood education and automatic promotion. While in order to increase enrollment for secondary education, they recommend the creation of one million new places in the next six years, building more economical schools without some facilities like teachers’ houses and ‘fancy’ laboratories and the reviewing of the curriculum to reduce the subjects to ten or less.

The First Lady and Education Minister disagreed with the recommendation of stopping the building of teachers’ housing and also elaborated that the Early Childhood Development is surely coming, but it will come as the country gets a critical mass of educated people who can then participate in the provision of ECD education.

About $2 billion in additional funding is required through 2025 to ensure that all children complete primary school with basic literacy and numeracy skills and are accommodated in secondary schools.

Source: Janet Museveni