With just two days to the beginning of the new school term, teachers are reviewing their performance last year, particularly in light of the poor performance in the 2008 Primary Leaving Examinations.
In the new district of Manafwa in eastern Uganda, there is concern about its dismal performance. Manafwa was the worst performing district in the 2008 PLE, with only four of the 6,021 pupils passing in Division One. Numerous reasons have been given for the performance including erratic transfer of teachers, interference of politicians and laxity of parents.
Throughout the year, several teachers were transferred from schools in Manafwa. Two teachers, who refused to be named for fear of victimization, claimed that local council officials orchestrated the transfer out of anger that their support among the teachers was declining.
The teachers also accused several politicians, with no experience in the education sector, of punishing them unnecessarily. They gave the example of Dominic Waneluba, the headmaster of Bwirusa Primary School, who was jailed for four days for punishing pupils who skipped school to attend the Imbalu circumcision rituals.
Several parents in Manafwa agree that they haven't been as hard on their children as they should and have encouraged an attitude of laxity.
Richard Masaba, a resident of Magale which is close to Kenya-Uganda border, says many of his neighbors encourage their children to skip school to attend work at home and to attend Imbalu ceremonies.
Titus Wakuba, of Manafwa Town Council, agrees with this analysis. He says many parents are actively encouraging their children to drop out of school and to marry early.
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However Rachael Kakai, a teacher in Manafwa, says the issue is a little more complex than this. She admits that she hasn't been giving her best to her pupils. She says if she was paid more money would apply herself more to her work.
Several pupils in Magale township intimated that many of their teachers do not bother to show up for work. If they do, they teach in vernacular and the pupils are ill prepared to sit for national exams in English.
Other pupils said their schools are severely understaffed and they don't have text books or other learning materials.
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