Give education more funds, Belgium envoy tells Uganda

[Daily Monitor] Give education more funds, Belgium envoy tells Uganda

The Belgium Ambassador to Uganda, Mr Rudi Veestraeten, has asked government to increase funding in the education sector. 

Speaking during the Teachers’ Day celebrations at Muni National Teachers College (NTC) at the weekend, Ambassador Rudi said government should fulfil the promises it made to the international community and partners that funding would increase.

He said there has been a decrease in funding, which has negatively affected learning.“You see the effects of this decrease (in funding) every day. Students and teachers lack materials like books and computers. Classes are too big and teachers can’t pay sufficient attention to students,” Ambassador Rudi said.

In Arua Public Secondary School, students attend lessons in shifts due to the limited number of classrooms. 

As part of the efforts to supplement government, the Belgian organisation Enabel has been supporting the education sector, especially across West Nile, in improving the quality of education through training teachers.

This is aimed at strengthening the professional competencies of teacher trainers and teachers graduating from the five NTCs of Muni, Mubende, Kaliro, Kabale, and Unyama.

The donors, who are mostly European Union member states, have approved Shs620 billion as a grant to enable investment in the education sector under the Global Partnership for Education (GPE).

The Principal of Muni NTC, Ms Daisy Aliwaru, said although there is improved infrastructure at the college, the government should increase funding for the smooth running of the education sector.“We continue to operate with an inadequate capitation grant of Shs1,800 per student per day. We request the government to increase this to at least Shs5,000 per student. We cannot do much with this. And we have inadequate staffing which affects the education sector,” she said.

According to the Financial Year 2022/2023 budget, the Ministry of Education allocated Shs4.14 trillion towards the education and skilling sub-programmes.

Responding to the concerns, the State Minister for Primary Education, Dr Joyce Moriku, said the government was committed to increasing funding in the education sector.“We are moving towards increasing funding. We have already done this to UPE and USE. We are moving towards higher learning institutions also,” she said without giving details on when.

She said the education reforms entail salary enhancement for teachers in a phased manner. According to the Minister of Finance, Mr Matia Kasaija, during the reading of the budget for the financial year 2022/2023, said priority would be given to improving the quality of education. 

“We shall have staffing gaps filled in primary and secondary schools, training of teachers and instructors on the new abridged curriculum will continue, and the lower secondary curriculum will be rolled out,” he said. 

ChallengesAs a result of inadequate funding for the education sector, schools grapple with inadequate classrooms, few teachers, and poor housing conditions, which has prompted many to rent out their school premises. 

In June, Arts teachers in secondary schools under Uganda National Teachers’ Union (Unatu) went on a three-week sit down strike protesting the selective increase of salaries.

Science teachers now earn nearly four times more than their Arts counterparts.

The monthly salary of a secondary school science teacher is up by Shs2.5m to Shs4.2m, while a junior will get Shs2.2m, up from between Shs795,000 and Shs858,000. Arts teachers continue to earn between Shs1.2m and Shs700,000.