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The Ugandan School Teacher Printable Version PRINTABLE VERSION
by Ssendagire Paul, Uganda Mar 23, 2009
Globalization , Education   Short Stories
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My heart and soul are restless about painting an everlasting picture embracing the theme of beautiful living. After enjoying a rough squeeze with the hurricanes of nature, I re-surface with renewed energy on the road leading to a better world. I regret the first script about the Ugandan school teacher was smuggled by a rat which regarded it as an irresistible item for its labor ward but the urgency of voicing out the indispensable citizen’s ups and downs kept on lingering in my mind demanding for release.

In Uganda, we enjoy a number of educational levels, which include pre-primary, primary, secondary and tertiary levels. All of the stated levels employ teachers but I focus on primary and secondary school teachers. The Ugandan teacher faces a number of challenges and pains as highlighted below.

Fresh from higher institutions of learning, with a degree, diploma or certificate in education, the teacher embarks on the task of looking for employment. He or she writes a million applications for teaching jobs, but the probability of one of his applications being considered remains one half. So many other colleagues are also looking at that one vacancy. Chance may be on your side and your name is short listed in one of the schools. However, technical know-who precedes technical know-how, and yet some desperate, good-looking, professionals may be lured into unprofessional acts in the name of securing the vacancy. This is a very challenging situation especially to people who embrace a mentality that under the sun, they have to pursue only the jobs they trained for. Such people are also abundantly blessed with the spirit of overlooking some jobs, yet in the meantime, they can pursue the same for a fairly handsome living.

Apart from the difficulty to secure employment, teachers in Uganda continue to face a problem of underpayment for their service. This is especially true in private schools in which this form of exploitation continues to enjoy the dance floor. However, such a challenge can be overcome by complementing teaching with other forms of gainful employment like farming and the government embracing its responsibility of setting a minimum wage for country teachers.

Working for a small pay would not be much of a problem if the payment were accessible in time. However, in many schools, teachers take ages to receive payment for their services, and that’s if they ever receive it. Hence, one wonders how a less creative teacher meets personal and family needs during this time of exaggerated hell.

Yet delays in payments can help a teacher accumulate some capital, which can be injected in a new venture. However, the teacher’s salary is subjected to a number of deductions in the form of taxes and forced savings. Taxes include pay as you earn, local service tax among others. Forced savings go to the National Social Security Fund and one may completely fail to access his or her accumulated savings. Apart from taxation, the frequency of functions for which a teacher has to pledge something monetary and the extensive inflation the country is currently facing push the teacher to a level at which he or she can hardly save anything and many to survive on bank loans. Many superglue onto their profession hoping for a retirement package, but the majority of teachers do meet their creator before the retirement age and many ‘flex muscles’ in order to secure a portion.

More so, overworking teachers is a reality in most Ugandan primary and secondary schools. In most schools, a teacher is not only expected to teach a good number of classes with a village of students, but also to cater for individual differences amongst students. The above is coupled with making constant research and revision, marking a million scripts plus a number of other school duties after school. A teacher is also expected to perfectly fulfill the marital obligations. It’s the whites that say that work without play makes Ssendagire a dull boy and I also strongly question the effectiveness of a teacher engulfed in such a demanding routine.

Added to the above, the students’ discipline in many schools contributes to the pile of stress the Ugandan teacher faces. Imagine yourself baptized an abusive nickname by the students! Some students not only nickname teachers but also participate in drug abuse, theft, constant use of vulgar language, burning schools and the beating up of teachers. This therefore calls for creative approaches geared towards making the school environment more comfortable for teachers, which may include constant counselling among others.

Some effective approaches to managing students and useful notes may be accessed by Ugandan teachers from the internet. However, it’s a fact that the majority of Ugandan teachers can hardly access or use the computer. This has greatly limited up-to-date research amongst teachers and calls for urgent refresher courses to help teachers cope with technological advancements. Modernizing the classroom to overcome the monotony of talk and chalk through complementing our lessons with audiovisuals is very urgent, but lack of capital greatly subjects this plan to impotence. Imagine a school in which lessons are conducted in nature-provided classrooms (under tree shade) and where earth and sticks substitute for books and pens. How can they have even the slightest appetite to use technology-enhanced teaching?





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Teaching in Uganda
D Michelle Foresman | Aug 2nd, 2010
I am spending the summer in Kabale, Uganda. The southern part of the country. I have been spending many hours with the primary and secondary teachers. The science teacher didn't know about the earths rotation, or about the moon's gravity. The english teachers do not know english,ei; verbs, nouns,etc. The music teacher has never heard of broadway, The Sound of Music, and had know idea what a harmonica was. The history teacher, teachers African history, No world history, that is taught from the bible...???? So little education. You can not give someone what you do not have. All the good works are not good enough. We need communication and access to what the world has to offer. All their works are for not, if things do not change. To further the problem, I have seen teachers smack and pull and push students. They are ordered to perform! It is quite upsetting, to say the least. Most of the children in this community are orhans, and are cared for by the community diocese. They don't have proper diet with makes the matters only worse. They are housed by the hundreds, in small cramped spaces. No power, no running water, and educational material that is very, very old and inadequate. When I try to teach the educators how to access information on the laptop, they are not interested and just want to see American Music, videos, etc...They only want to find people that will bring them to America...It is very sad, and I feel almost hopeless. They are not motivated to improving the plight of their own country, but want out. This attitude must change, leaving is not the answer. Those that are able to leave, never want to come back, and seek despert ways of advoiding the return. I have had school supplies, books, etc., mailed from the USA over 31 days ago, yet they have not arrived. It seems just impossible to help. So much to overcome. I will give the teachers this web site, hoping to spark interest. Thank you, Michelle Foresman

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