Story Written By Sarah Achen
While many government schools under the Universal Primary Education (UPE) Program perform poorly as compared to private owned ones, a few UPE schools perform far better than even the private ones. They are pace setters in Uganda’s primary education. Notable examples include Nakasero P/S, Kitante P/S and Buganda Road P/S.
In this edition of the status of government schools (Part II) brought to you by UgandaDebt Network in partnership with Red Pepper,we bring you what sets apart these schools so that the poor performing schools can borrow a leaf.
According to Beatrice Turyasingura, the Head Teacher at Nakasero P/S, the school has not only set the standard, but has stood the test of time. The school has a population of 2388 pupils. This year, 257pupils sat for Primary Leaving Examinations (UPE).
“We are among the best excelling schools when it comes to general performance [of primary schools in Uganda] and we have stood the test of time,” Turyasingura said, adding that they established a system that has enabled the school to excel as they don’t teach pupils to excel in exams alone, but also teach them to be self-reliant and by so doing, they (pupils) carry out their own research.
“We teach basing on the syllabus and emphasize application of the knowledge acquired,” she said, adding, “Everybody at Nakasero Primary School is committed to his or her work.”
Turyasingura added that at Nakasero, they involve all the stakeholders to help design the programs and lessons.
“When it comes to primary seven, we do a lot of child development and encourage group discussions. We make sure we complete the syllabus in second term and leave third term mainly for revision where each child is handled individually,” she revealed.
She explains that the school works closely with parents who help supervise their children’s homework projects because “some children work better with supervision from their parents.” It is therefore, not surprising that Nakasero P/S is one of the best schools in the country as almost all its pupils pass in first grade every year.
On Capitation Grant
Turyasingura explains that since the capitation grant is not sufficient for most schools especially the urban based ones, government allowed them to charge an extra fee (from parents) in addition to the grant.
She however, noted that the school faces a challenge of teachers’ accommodation while transport issues (traffic jam and fares) affect them.
She added that the infrastructure at Nakasero is very old that needs urgent renovation.
“…Water pipes, electricity connections and the buildings need renovation,” she said. She added that the school lacks a fence so it becomes hard to ensure the children’s safety. The school also lacks enough scholastic materials.
Advice to Teachers
“Teachers should know that they are touching the lives of the future generation and should be ready to serve them in the best way they can. Teachers need to change their attitude and be positive towards their calling because they chose to be there in the first place. Some teachers have a mentality that ‘since I am not paid much, I have a choice not be bothered in case the pupils fail,’ this is wrong,” she cautions.
Denis Mbabazi, a teacher in charge of the English Department at Nakasero says apart from the impressive performance in PLE, “different aspects of life like cleanliness, environmental protection, self-expression, competitions, music presentation and debates” among others make the school stand out.
“The school has a legacy that influences each of us who joined the school. It’s our role to maintain the record and work towards making it better,” he said, adding that good administration and teamwork keeps the school making significant strides.
Lessons from Kitante
At Kitante P/S, Betty Bitainensha Rutsikano, the Deputy Head teacher in charge of the lower section (P1-P3) says the school has over 3000 pupils and about 64 teaching staff of which 28 are in the lower section.
Despite the big numbers, Bitainensha says at least 40% of their P.7 candidates have been passing in first grade. She attributes the school’s performance to professionalism of teachers, good administration and support from parents.
“Kitante is a lucky school because it has qualified teachers and we rarely change them. Some of them leave after getting a promotion,” she said, adding, “Most of them have degrees, masters with very few with diplomas.”
She explained that the “good administration” has tirelessly worked to ensure that teachers are maintained and catered for.
In addition to academics, the school has emphasized its culture of co-curricular activities that enables pupils to be active both in class and outside.
The school has small projects that help in supplementing on the day today running of the school. For example, the school has a garden of vegetables.
The school also has built some staff quarters and parents make a small contribution which motivates teachers.
Like Nakasero’s Turyasingura, Bitainensha advices teachers to love their profession and offer the best.
Buganda Road P/S
The head teacher, Mr Ssengendo David says performance has been good although they keep getting insinuations that they have decided. What people call high excellence is what I call high score?
What is excellent performance?
In my view excellent performance is where a school is able to produce a child that doesn’t end with high scores only but also is able to express him or herself very articulately where the child the morals are high, a greater extent after primary seven level can exercise an independent judgment of issues presented to him or her where a child can fend for himself by going extra mile to learn. If one actually states this about these schools, I want to say yes if it’s not in academics per say. A tendency for our people to think about high academic performance as being excellent which is not true. The enrollment is 2780 pupils.
What makes them tick?
These schools have continued to perform better because many of the teachers were already in the school before the inception of UPE. They still do their work well and have continued to produce better results.
Ssengendo says that these individual schools are committed to excellence. All the stakeholders are involved in the daily running of the school and this has made it possible for us to strive in all areas.
They are driven to maintain the past performance, everybody wants to see the past image remain because the schools are always on top and this is a team work. The good performance of UPE primary schools that continue to excel in all areas because they are under the supervisor Education services in the Central Division KCCA who ensure that the schools are monitored and well maintained to meet the education standards.