By Obbo Yusuf
Karamoja: The education policy review commission visited Karamoja region for consultative and participatory meetings with stakeholders in the region The Commission embarked on upcountry Stakeholders’ consultation meetings to gather views through public hearings from key stakeholders to make an input into the new policy.
The Education Policy Review Commission (EPRC) was launched by the First Lady and Hon. Minister of Education and Sports Hon. Janet Kataha Museveni to draft a new macro policy framework for the Education and Sports for Uganda to replace the current Government White Paper on Education of 1992.
The Visit started with Kaabong district where the commission first met up with Kaabong district local leaders with need to take notice of the implementation of the recommendations of the Government White Paper on Education of 1992 and then the key issues affecting education and sports in the country, specific to the Karamoja region and then the Proposed remedies to address the shortcomings in the education and sports sector.
The district vice chairperson for Kaabong Hon Joseph Mukasa expressed concern over the need to implement the Nrm manifesto of each sub county having a seed secondary school and a parish having a primary school saying Kaabong has been left behind. The district has got only one government secondary school which makes learning difficult for students from distant sub counties.
“it’s unfortunate that we only have one secondary school in the district and that is Kaabong as in the town making it difficult for the rest of the learner’s to access it due to long distance and because of insecurity in our area ,our children can’t walk long distances and many end up dropping out of school for forced marriage yet others are attacked by warriors ” said vice chairperson ,
He added that Kaabong district with only 32 primary schools in 85 parishes has been challenged by decrease in numbers of leaners for upper classes in the primary level due to long distances and lack of enough facilities as many young girls are forced into marriage by parents with no motivation over education as boys are groomed to look after animals .
In an interaction of the commission with Kaabong District local government leaders ,the Resident District Commissioner for Kaabong district Okirya Chris Mike requested the government to conduct forceful education system in karamoja region to ensure that young boys leaves the kraals and stay in school.
The review focused on producing a secondary school graduate who has the competences that are required in the 21st century promoting values and attitudes effective learning and acquisition of skills in order to reduce unemployment among school graduates.
The review also aimed at reducing the content overload and contact hours in the classroom so as to create time for research, project work talent development and creativity; allowing for emerging fields of knowledge across all subjects and doing away with obsolete information.
There was need to address the social and economic needs of the country like the mining sector, tourism, services provision, science and technology development and to ensure rigorous career guidance programme to expose learners to the related subjects. This will enable learners to make informed choices as they transit and to equip them with knowledge and skills that will enhance their competitiveness in the global value chain.
Learners from karamoja region requested the commission and ministry of education and sports to consider practical subjects compulsory to create an environment of hands on training that will produce job creators than job seekers. They also decried of lack of internet and computer equipment to enable them get exposed to computer skills and knowledge.
The teachers thanked the government and the ministry of education for the new curriculum saying it is aimed at providing the best knowledge and skills to the young generation as its emphasis is put more on the practical subjects and also local language that will give room to better learning, but these have asked government to provide a better special program for Karamoja due to its many challenges attributed to insecurities and poverty.
Cherop violet a primary three teacher at Pajar primary school in Kaabong said ,boarding section and sponsorship to Karamoja students mostly those who come from very poor families can help change karamoja
“The day to day class attendance tells it all in the morning the numbers are big after lunch in the afternoon classes are almost empty, many parents send their children to school targeting food ,and you find out that even us teachers we have to leave schools early like at 3:00pm to avoid being attacked by warriors on the way because many of us sleep far away from the schools and this has greatly affect our performance and students moral towards education ” Said Cherop
The Education Policy Review Commission led by its chairman Hon Amanya Mushega has so far visited Busoga, West Nile and Karamoja region. It engaged key stakeholders such as district and municipal leaders, educationists, civil society, administrators of refugee camps, religious leaders, faith-based education entities, community leaders, teachers, parents and learners.
The new curriculum allows students to study only 12 subjects in senior one and two, with 11 of these being compulsory and one selective. The compulsory subjects are English, mathematics, history, geography ,physics ,biology, chemistry, physical education, religious education ,entrepreneurship and kiswahil