Kampala. Government on Thursday admitted a shortage of 23,000 primary school teachers as district education officers lamented that some schools in their areas had closed for lack of teaching staff.
Mr Michael Kaptekin Cherotich, the Kween district education officer, cited Greek River Primary School, the only primary school in Kiriki Sub-county, which closed after failing to raise teachers’ salaries. About 500 pupils were sent home prematurely. The school was constructed by ActionAid in 2012 with government assurance to take it over and meet the burden of provision of scholastic materials and teachers’ salaries.
“When the school opened in 2012, it had 500 children. But there are no teachers in the school and the community cannot afford to pay them. The children became redundant. They are now looking after cattle, burning charcoal and others gambling in trading centres. We have been forced to close the school,” Mr Cherotich said.
He was speaking at a Global Action Week for Education 2016 on Thursday at Hotel Protea in Kampala under the theme; Financing for Inclusive and Quality Education for All.
Mr Tonny Lusambu, the Ministry of Education assistant commissioner for primary education, admitted the shortage of teachers in many primary schools which he said was affecting quality of education.
However, he said they had sent out a directive to district education officers to replace only those teachers who absconded from duty or died.
But for schools like Green River, Mr Lusambu said the communities must wait a little longer until government takes them up.
“We are in a gap of 23,000 teachers. We have sent out circulars to districts requesting that they replace those who died or absconded so that we at least have a teacher in each class,” he said.
Mr Frederick Kaboya, the ActionAid policy and campaign manager, said they invested Shs400m to construct Green River upon government assurance to take it up.
“Government committed that they would take on the school at that time. But I understand that donors asked them to stop recruiting. And because government depends on donors, they had no [money] to fund its education,” Mr Kaboya said.
World Vision education specialist John Wilson Tereraho asked government to review its priorities if it’s committed to developing the economy.