Members of Parliament from the Acholi sub-region are suggesting a policy to prohibit Ministry of Education officials, irrespective of their rank, from actively managing educational institutions while serving in the civil service.
They argue that conflicts of interest have adversely affected the education system, with officials neglecting their supervisory roles in public schools. The proposal, presented to the Education Policy Review Commission, highlights instances where education ministers and commissioners, who own private schools, undermine government schools.
Anthony Akol, chairperson of the Acholi Parliamentary Group, pointed out specific cases of officials prioritizing their private institutions over public schools. The MPs emphasize the need for clear recommendations on this matter, citing concerns about policies supporting government schools being undermined. Professor David Kabasa acknowledges the conflict of interest but notes the freedom to start enterprises in Uganda.
Engineer John Nasasira suggests officials declare conflicts of interest and avoid actively managing ventures during their tenure. Acholi MPs also urge robust recommendations on private school regulation, school fee management, and enhanced inspection procedures. They stress the importance of Education Ministry reform and collaboration.
The MPs resist policies like automatic promotion, arguing it fosters a lackadaisical attitude. They contend that in the Acholi sub-region, this policy negatively affects the quality of primary education, leading to demotivation and lower learning outcomes. Despite the policy’s intent to improve completion rates, only 30% of students proceed to Primary Leaving Examinations.
Members unanimously urge reconsideration of teaching in local languages at lower primary levels, citing inefficiency. They highlight challenges like a limited number of proficient teachers and exclusion of certain languages, leading to tribal concerns. The debate faces resistance, with some commissioners arguing against an abrupt change in the language of instruction.
The decision on instructional language has been contentious since the adoption of the Thematic Curriculum in 2015. The commission, engaging with various groups, will formulate recommendations for the education sector in a government white paper. This echoes a similar initiative by Professor William Senteza Kajubi’s commission between 1987 and 1989, where many recommendations went unimplemented.