Young Leaders Think Tank Presents Education Policy Alternatives
The Think Tank members Emmanuel Kitamirikke and Edna Akullo opened the dialogue with a presentation of the situational analysis of the education sector and the recommendations elaborated by the Think Tank after intensive research. This was followed by a panel discussion with Elizabeth Mutumba (Senor Education Officer in the Ministry of Education), Connie Kateeba (National Curriculum Development Centre), Nixon Ogwal (Action Aid Uganda) and Yusuf Kiranda (Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung Uganda).
The following recommendations were presented by the Think Tank:
1. Facilitate schools with adequate infrastructure and required teaching materials
I.Increase investment in schooling facilities like classroom structures and equipment and sanitary structures.
II.Enhance supply with textbooks and improve quality and availability of teaching aids. Support a decentralized system of small and easily accessible libraries.
III.Review procedures for approving textbooks in line with curricula and general quality standards.
IV.Continue with the modernization of teaching curricula to be in line with the needs of the learners and the expected requirements on the job market.
2. Enhance qualification and motivation of teaching staff
I.Employ more teachers and reduce the number of students per class.
II.Increase funds for allowing a better pay of teachers.
III.Address the rural-urban disparity by enhancing incentives for teachers to work in rural and remote areas (e.g. salary top ups, decent accommodation etc.).
IV.Develop appropriate assessment tools regarding the quality of teaching and performance of staff.
V.Reform and improve initial teacher education and enhance support and resources for faculties of education.
3. Strengthen the Business, Technical, Vocational Education and Training (BTVET)
I.Increase the number of students sponsored on government quota system at vocational technical institutions level.
II.Develop and popularize a deliberate national programme focused on attitude change and mindset repositioning towards vocational and technical education as a precursor to the growing youth unemployment.
4.Increase education financing for secondary and higher education
I.Establish a government education trust fund supported by a 1 percent of the 18 percent charged as value added tax.
II.Expedite the commencement of the proposed loan scheme to enhance affordability and increase access to tertiary education.
III.Institute public and private partnerships to transform political commitments into employment for those who are coming out of school if the loan scheme is to serve its purpose as a revolving fund.
IV.Government needs to revive the education enterprise model of schools, colleges and universities developing commercial farms and other enterprises for income generation and self-sustainability.
5. Strengthen spaces and platforms for citizen collective participation in ensuring quality education
I.Government needs to strengthen the existing platforms for citizens’ involvement in the administration of education institutions especially at the lower levels; these include the school management committees, parent-teachers association and boards of governors.
II.Policy formulation should be consultative enough to allow for citizen/parents’ participation at all levels and implementation should be participatory.
6. Address the multiple reasons for the high drop-out rates, especially for girls
I.Increase capitation grant for primary schools to reduce financial barriers.
II.Improve sex education in schools to prevent early pregnancies.
III.Invest in better sanitary facilities for girls in all schools.
IV.Implement a country-wide sensitization programme that addresses challenges such as early marriages and expectations regarding household duties of girls.
V.Implement school feeding programmes across the country and identify models for sustainable financing (budget allocations, parents’ contributions, public private partnerships, combination with local agricultural development programmes).
7. Review the affirmative action policy and enhance inclusiveness
I.With the initial objectives of the policy having been realized to a large extent (parity in admission of boys and girls), there is need to reform the policy and redirect it to girls admission in science based disciplines and labor rewarding programmes.
II.The policy reform should also consider inclusion of people with learning difficulties such as people with sight and hearing impairments and people with mental disabilities.
III.Enhance inclusiveness of education by improving facilities in order to adequately support learners with special needs.
IV.Train more teachers on how to handle learners with special needs –e.g. training in sign language and the use of Braille.
8. Design and implement a public education programme focused on the arts, creative and sports industry
I.Set up specialized sports colleges offering both mainstream academic programmes and special sports disciplines where emerging sports personalities are referred for talent nurturing.
II.Develop high altitude training camps for athletes with modern training gear and trainers.
III.Pre-primary and primary levels should have specialized units to identify talent and provide the initial development.
IV.Using the public-private partnership model, provide frameworks and institutions to support upcoming artists in the music industry. This will include government supporting music identification projects like Tusker Project Fame and tax waivers to local music performances for upcoming artists.
V.Support creativity and innovation in the informal small enterprises by providing work places and equipments in selected centers across the country.
9. Promote a new educational approach
I.Provide more opportunities for learning outside the school environment, e.g. internships, excursions, field projects etc.
II.Enhance links and partnerships between the business community and the education sector and create more systematic links between schools and the job market.
III.Enhance real on-the-job training in vocational education.
IV.Encourage schools to evaluate students’ needs and to individualize educational approaches.
V.Encourage independent and experiential learning, focus on learners’ potentials and competences rather than shortcomings, and strengthen analytical and critical thinking and problem solving abilities.
VI.Empower parents and learners to be aware of their rights and needs.
VII.Foster distance education opportunities to overcome barriers to access.
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