A Cry for Support to Save the Future of 3,000 Teachers

As a concerned citizen, I write with deep distress over the alarming situation exposed by the Daily Monitor’s article titled “3,000 Teachers Fail to Graduate” published on July 25, 2023. This revelation sheds light on the crisis faced by educational institutions training Grade V teachers in Uganda, as they struggle with debts amounting to billions of shillings, resulting in the failure to graduate over 3,000 promising graduands. Such a predicament places the future of these educators in jeopardy, and this demands our immediate attention.

Kyambogo University, previously known as the Institute of Teacher Education Kyambo or ITEK, plays a vital role in shaping the academic programs run by National Teachers’ Colleges (NTCs) across the nation. However, the transition to a university in 2003 has not been without challenges. The current impasse between Kyambogo University and NTCs, leading to the stalling of graduations for two successive cohorts, underscores the gravity of the situation.

The financial burden weighing down these institutions has compelled them to divert students’ payments meant for examinations, convocation, and academic transcripts to meet their operational expenses. The government’s capitation grant of Shs1,800 per trainee teacher’s daily upkeep is woefully inadequate and irregularly disbursed, pushing the institutions to the brink.

Consequently, the students find themselves trapped in limbo, unable to secure jobs they are qualified for, and their career advancement comes to a standstill. This crisis also affects in-service teachers seeking to upgrade their qualifications, as employers hesitate to grant them higher pay due to the lack of evidence for their corresponding qualifications.

The heart-wrenching testimonies from affected students and teachers paint a dire picture of the education system in Uganda. Fortunate Akankwasa’s plea for the colleges to give them a chance to graduate echoes the sentiments of hundreds of other students desperate for a better future. The struggle of Moses Karagwe, underpaid for lack of requisite qualifications, speaks volumes about the challenges faced by educators who should be valued and rewarded for their dedication to shaping young minds.

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The accumulation of debts, such as the Shs1.2b owed by NTCs to Kyambogo University, further exacerbates the situation. The lack of a written commitment from the government to resolve this issue raises concerns about the fate of the affected graduates and the broader education sector in Uganda.

The burden faced by NTCs is not just financial; it affects the very foundation of education in the country. The delay in graduation certificates hinders teachers’ ability to contribute effectively to society, leading to a potential loss of skilled educators. Additionally, the reputation of these institutions may suffer, impacting their ability to attract future students and maintain their standards of excellence.

It is crucial for the Ministry of Education, the parent ministry, and the sector regulator, as well as Finance officials responsible for the Treasury, to step in promptly and work towards a viable solution. We cannot overlook the critical role played by these educators in shaping the future of Uganda’s children and the nation as a whole.

I call upon the government to prioritize the resolution of this crisis by working with Kyambogo University and NTCs to clear the outstanding bills. Adequate funding and timely disbursement of financial support should be ensured to alleviate the financial strain on educational institutions. Empowering these institutions will empower future generations of teachers, enabling them to excel in their careers and, in turn, contribute to the development of the nation.

Furthermore, I urge development partners and stakeholders to come together and offer support to address this pressing issue. As highlighted by Mr. Tom Vanneste of Enable, it is imperative for all parties involved to work collaboratively and find a lasting solution.

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Let us not allow the dreams and aspirations of 3,000 aspiring teachers to be shattered due to financial hardships. Their success is intertwined with the progress of the nation. It is time for us, as citizens and stakeholders, to rally behind these educators and secure the bright future they deserve. Only by investing in education can we build a prosperous and enlightened Uganda for generations to come.

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