UPC tells NRM govt “our old education model can be an eye-opener and a magic bullet for you” 

Addressing a midweek press conference in Kampala, the party spokesperson Arach Oyat Sharon said, “Let us work extra hard and provide a holistic education.”

Decades after leaving State power, Uganda People’s Congress (UPC) party continues to be active while offering ideas and solutions to the NRM government. 

Under the leadership of Jimmy Akena, also the Lira City East MP, the party has offered dozens of pieces of advice and recommendations to the Museveni-led government.

Each week, UPC sends messages. On February 1, 2023, they tackled the state of education following the release of the 2022 Primary Leaving Examinations (PLE) results. 

Arach had this to say:

On Friday 27th January 2023, there were tears of joy from pupils, teachers and parents respectively as the Uganda National Examination Board (UNEB) released results for the Primary Leaving Examination (PLE) which was conducted on the 8th and 9th November 2022 with sombre mood to those who performed poorly and pupils whose results were withheld for malpractice reasons.

According to UNEB, there was a general improvement in the performance of candidates in 2022 compared to 2020 and UPC would like to congratulate all pupils upon completion of primary school level and encourage them to strategically organise themselves well for post-primary education.

However, going by the theme of UNEB’s statement of the release of the 2022 PLE results, Integrity and Security in the Management of Examinations, the Health and Safety of the Learners is a joint Responsibility, a lot needs to be done holistically if we are to achieve the minimum demands of the theme.

Right from pre-primary to primary school, we need to ensure that our pupils do not fall off the “conveyor belt”. However, at every level, we continue to register dropping-out figures that are raising great concerns in the country. Research points out natural and man-made causes which include illnesses leading to deaths. UPC urges the government to step up both antenatal and postnatal care for the mother and child’s growth and development.

All immunisation programmes should be done on time. This gives both the pre-primary and primary schools a better enrollment of a crop of pupils who are well-brought up.

The challenge now is how to sustain such health standards of early childhood growth and development without sliding back. The safety of learners needs to be catered for by arresting the various vices of domestic violence, child abuse, torture, defilement, rape, teenage pregnancy and early marriages in a bid to achieve a good learning environment for our children. Such vices in our societies may explain the increased number of candidates from 1.7% (12,819) in 2020 to 2.5% (20,844) in 2022 who registered but did not turn up for PLE as per the UNEB statistics which has not captured the continued school dropouts before candidate classes and should be handled with the utmost attention.

Our state of schools and classrooms reveals a lot of the challenges ahead in offering a holistic education that can integrate our environment into the study of our pupils! The over-enrollment in most of the schools with poor learning facilities has violated the ideal teacher-pupil ratio and the pupil-textbook ratio of 1:30 and 1:1 respectively except in international schools that are out of reach for our parents or guardians.

These ratios are a reminder that we need to mobilise more resources for our education system at the primary school level, produce enough skilled teachers, build more classroom blocks and face lift the existing structures as well as secure the right type and quantities of textbooks to enhance the learning environment.

By now, we should have fully domesticated the production of scholastic materials and furniture. UPC and Milton Obote Foundation (MOF) had walked this journey before; with a subsidiary known as Uganda School Supplies that provided scholastic materials to all schools across the country and owned a furniture factory in Mbale that provided school furniture; tables, chairs and desks. 

The duo also invested in the publication of textbooks, offered both local and abroad scholarships, and ventured into agriculture, growing crops and livestock production with a focus on the youths. This was expected to increase agricultural productivity which would guarantee our food security. And it was possible in the 1960s and early 1980s.

The UPC-MOF model of that time can be an eye-opener and a magic bullet for the Government and the line Ministry of Education and Sports to solve some of the outstanding challenges facing our education system in the medium and long term if studied in detail.

The Ministry of Education should also borrow a leaf from the Ministry of Health which has the National Medical Store (NMS) as an independent agency with a budget to supply medicine to Government health outlets across the country, despite the gaps. 

This can contribute greatly to achieving a holistic education thus realising the theme of 2022 PLE results, “Integrity and Security in the Management of Examinations, the Health and Safety of the Learners is a joint Responsibility“. 

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