A large number of teachers hired under Alternative Basic Education for Karamoja program have abandoned their work because of poor pay.
Alternative Basic Education for Karamoja is a government program that adapts the formal education experience to the unique living environment in northeastern Uganda.
Teachers, employed from local communities, conduct lessons under the trees early in the morning before the workday begins and again in the evening when the workday has ended. Girls bring younger siblings for whom they are responsible, and boys can learn to read and write while watching their herds of goats graze nearby.
Sometimes Karamojong elders also act as facilitators for specific subject areas such as indigenous history and knowledge on survival within their community
Children who begin their education through the Alternative Basic Education for Karamoja can transfer to the formal system if they are interested.
The program, which was lauded as a success, has in recent months been hit by teacher shortages. In Kotido district, the majority of the 24 learning centers have one or nor teacher at all.
At Elemuye village, 12 kilometers from Kotido town, the learning center there has been abandoned by both teachers and pupils.
Peter Lokiru, the sole facilitator there, says he has to miss work several days a week in order to travel to a trading center to receive food aid from the World Food Program. He says the other teachers completed left their jobs, opting for work as Special Police Constables in the police force.
The Kotido District Education Officer, Ambrose Lotukei, says many teachers left because of poor pay. The teachers receive only 100,000 shillings per month.
Lotukei says this problem is compounded by the fact that teachers employed under the Alternative Basic Education program are not on the government payroll.
According to the Ministry of Education only 12 percent of people in Moroto, Kotido, Nakapiripirit, Abim and Kaabong are able to read and write.