UPE Balance Sheet: The Making of Effective Schools
Though sub Saharan Africa has registered an increase in primary schools in last 10 years, charging of fees still remain a major barrier to progress towards attaining the UPE goal. Bolder actions are therefore still required around access, fees, quality and teachers and overly, application of efficacy in management of schools. Access to education of good quality is a fundamental human right, and its provision and relevance calls on the part of duty-bearers and rights-holders in relevant if not equal measure.
Following the adoption of education as a human right in 1997 by the Uganda Government for all its citizens for equitable sustainability, the enrollment and retention rates hurriedly improved. Education indicators thereinafter depicted a scenario of increased if not pure success. Though considered a human right, Education is not necessarily depictive of the same at the regional sphere…..It’s more of a privilege for the “financially endowed”.
A decade later following the full implementation of Universal Primary Education (UPE), education status in Namutumba and Iganga Districts is deplorable. There exists wide ranging and dynamic challenges catalysing poor schools management and subsequently, poor students’ performance with the cut-across matter of teen pregnancies and drug use not to be forgotten.
3 tiers that informed improved access and retention to primary education were human resources, financial support and the programs themselves. However, the approach should have been a 4 tier approach. The 4th tier being Effective Monitoring and Management by SMCs. Currently, the 4th tier is simply Management. Following a capacity and empowerment meeting convened by Busiki LRP for SMCs of Ivukula Sub County within the Larger Namutumba, it was evident that SMCs have left to theory, their roles; clearly leaving out the 4th component - Effective Monitoring and Management!
Literacy as the backbone of development as leads to Sectoral transformation in such sectors as agriculture. It augments sustainable education and health systems, reducing cost of health care, promoting education of children, and promoting good governance. SMCs roles to this effect can seldom be over emphasized. Despite SMCs structures being in place, their impact, benefit and influence toward the realization of good education indicators is not felt.
SMCs being government representatives at school level, the National government should besides allotting human and financial resources, place decentralization at the top of the priority items and should be put into working practice as opposed to the current situation. For schools to be effective, some of the key features & elements for consideration should include:
· Quality improvement should be the overriding goal for stakeholders in schools;
· Teacher development and motivation should always be at the center;
· Management and governance should be transparent and participatory;
· Community role given adequate emphasis;
· Children voices and child participation to be core; and lastly
· Cost effectiveness and efficiency should be the hallmark.
To achieve the hallmarks above, SMCs should endevour to ensure the following;
· Education leadership | communities | parental and CSO participation
· Curriculum completion, quality of delivery and student responsiveness
· Timely completion of the curriculum and beneficiary friendly language of instruction
· Existence of conducive school climate, culture and teaching/learning environment
· Practical application of all elements of policies, plans and school systems by the schooling community
· Good reporting and feedback structures as well working and visible management systems
· Review meetings on termly basis to keep track of students’ performances.