Kampala, Uganda | URN | Educationists have downplayed the likely benefits of a move by the government to phase out lower level certifications for teachers.
The move comes after the government announced that that enrollment of students in Primary Teachers Colleges (PTC) and National Teachers Colleges (NTC) for certificates and Diplomas will stop next year as it moves to phase out grade three and grade five qualifications.
Teachers were given up to 10-years to upgrade their qualifications to degree level in line with provisions of the National Teacher’s policy that was launched in October 2019.
Alex Kakooza, the Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Education says that the policy is aimed at streamlining teacher training and education and helping teachers grow. He adds that the period that has been given to teachers is enough to help them upgrade in time.
But while the Education Ministry says that the move will improve the quality of education in the country because teachers will be more qualified to teach, educationists believe that the move is ridiculous. They are proposing that instead of sending teachers back to school to upgrade with degrees, the government should improve the quality of its teacher training institutions.
Renowned Educationist Fagil Mande says that the new policy shifts the focus from promoting vocational education in the country. He says that the government should improve its in-service teacher training policy instead of making it mandatory for teachers to acquire degrees, adding that a higher qualification does not make one a good teacher.
Retired teacher Prof Opuda Asibo faults the government for ignoring the plight of teachers who have upgraded over the years, many of who still earn lower grade salaries, and have never been considered for promotions.
“So what will change this time around? Before we embrace this policy, we need to ask, where is government going to get the money that will pay them if they cannot even pay grade III teachers on time,” Prof Asibo said.
He adds that it is not realistic for the government to pick ideas from countries like Finland that are more developed and can afford to implement this kind of policies or developments. He says that the government needs to come up with homegrown solutions instead of bench-marking.
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Dr Tony Mukasa Lusambu, a veteran teacher and commissioner of Basic Education at the Ministry of Education says that addressing poor quality education is a big issue that goes beyond teachers upgrading to degrees. He, however, hastens to add that phasing out lower academic qualifications should not be an area of contention because it has happened before.
“I was once a grade II teacher but a time came when this certificate was phased out. So, the phasing out of grade III and V academic qualifications is not a new move and will help the teachers in the long run by enabling them to get paid more,” Dr Lusambu said.
According to the education ministry, the changes being recommended were advocated for in the 2014 Teachers Initiative in Sub-Saharan Africa (TISSA) report, which looks at what can be done to improve learning with an emphasis on what affects teaching and learning.
The education ministry has earmarked 6.6 billion Shillings in the next financial year to implement the National Teachers Policy.