When Mrs Jill Kentaro, a grade three teacher, stepped forward to face her first class in 1986, she had 40 eager pupils to instruct. 28 years later, Kentaro struggles to teach a class of 130 pupils in Kampala Capital City Council Authority Kamwokya Primary School.
28 years later, Kentaro struggles to teach a class of 130 pupils in Kampala Capital City Council Authority Kamwokya Primary School.
Kentaro is a primary three school teacher at the KCCA school. Her stream is Primary 3 East.
The Kamwokya primary school is among the schools that were chosen to enforce the Universal Primary Education (UPE) programme in 1997.
Kentaro's class is among the three streams that comprise primary three in KCCA Kamwokya Primary School. The primary three stream alone has 370 pupils divided up in three classes. The school has 1, 272 pupils.
Kentaro teaches three subjects: English, Social Studies, Mathematics and Science. Every teacher in the school is expected to be this versatile.
Proud of her profession, Kentaro admits that today she has a hard time being as effective a teacher as she can be.
The classroom itself is so packed; Kentaro does not have much room to inspect each child's exercise book. She knows she is more than just a teacher and tries to instil tools for success for her pupils. That is, when she can and is not too pressed for time.
Nevertheless, Kentaro struggles to impart knowledge to each and every child in her classroom.
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Inevitably, with such a large class she is expected to manage on her own, Kentaro knows some of the pupils who most need her attention might never get it.
The teaching professional code of ethics requires that she must prepare lesson plan, scheme of work and notes. In addition, she has to mark the exercise given to the pupils every day and record the marks.
Every year when results for Primary Leaving Examinations are released, such UPE schools are among the worst performers. Kampala, once a star performer, has dropped down the ranks.
In the 2014 Primary Leaving Examination results, Kampala was 11th best performing district out of 120 districts countrywide. Although Kampala was the 18th district with lowest failure rate at 3.2%, Fort Portal municipality had 0%.
Kentaro believes the current set up of UPE schools is breeding future disaster with the low quality of education offered. Kentaro says that though teachers are doing their best, they are overstretched and government should urgently come in to help. She says government needs to recruit more teachers for UPE schools.
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Gerald Mijasi, the deputy head teacher of Kamwokya Primary School, applauds the government for constructing more classrooms. He, however, notes that schools need teachers more than classroom and there are just not enough of them at KCCA Kamwokya Primary School.
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Although the Ministry of Education recommended teacher-student ratio stands at 1:40, most schools in Uganda struggle with numbers similar to KCCA Kamwokya Primary School.
Poor pay, sometimes delayed, is cited as one of the reasons why many teachers abandon the classroom to pursue other interests. Many UPE schools also complain of receiving UPE capitation grants late or never at all.