09 February 2011


The beginning of any school term is the time when students have to return to school. You have to sympathize with parents, guardians and benefactors for the task they have in finding school fees. Some have no jobs and those with jobs hardly earn enough to pay the fees.
Out of desperation, many parents turn to banks and loan sharks to borrow money to pay the school fees. Its a noble cause, but quite risky, because it makes them vulnerable to extortion. I have seen parents that have been borrowing money in order to meet their needs and when it comes time to pay the debt, they have to borrow from somewhere else. Its the classic 'borrowing from Peter to pay Paul' scenario. It is important to seek advise either legally or from friends and family about the choice of the lender.
A parent may opt for a cheap education as an alternative, but you will find that it’s not actually that cheap or free and in any case it may end up spoiling your child.
There is usually a need for the parent to support the school through providing scholastic materials for their children, school uniform and lunch plus getting involved in the school’s development programs like fund-raising, supporting sustainable projects and even the actual monitoring of whether one’s child is really studying.
Parents have proven that they can go the distance to see their children through school; in turn, the children ought to do their best in school.
Pay attention in all your classes and remember to forge friendships and engage in sport and drama. Most importantly, be mindful of the sacrifices your parents are making to ensure you have a good education.
Please work hard at school because your future is literally in your hands.
Have a good term and please share with us your experiences!

Teacher productivity

There’s intense pressure on our schools to present good examination results and rightly so.
The expansion of our schools has not always been followed by plans for expansion of teacher training institutions or by changes in the way new teachers are prepared to deal with the new reality in schools.
Some factors that affect teacher productivity are directly linked to student productivity.
It is important to consider how we judge teachers in today's environment. Many see a good teacher as being someone who contributes positively to a students’ achievement. The value of this teacher contribution adds to a student’s school experience and allows them to achieve much more. Several studies have attributed this teacher ‘added value’ to an endowment in teacher intelligence, subject knowledge and teaching skills.
The relative importance of intelligence, subject knowledge, and teaching skills in determining teacher productivity has important implications for recruiting and preparing future teachers.
The role of intelligence seems to suggest that policies designed to reduce entry barriers and encourage the brightest into teaching could boost student achievement.
Many people don’t want to become teachers due to the ever increasing demands placed on teachers beyond the initial task of teaching. For example, teachers are increasingly involved with parents and non-teacher related issues. Something must be done to remove some of these barriers, and attract some of our best students into teaching.
Educational authorities keep track of teacher productivity through the head teacher evaluations. Retention and tenure decisions are often heavily influenced by what the head teacher thinks about a particular teacher.
It is interesting to note that even with a glowing report from the head teacher, some teachers do not do well in certain environments. Deploying a good teacher to a new school in a different region of the country to help boost student achievement may have disappointing results. There is an expectation that a good teacher will remain productive when moved to a new school. This is not always true as many teachers benefit from high student achievement due to socio-economic conditions in the school and other reasons. Teachers in schools which recruit some of the most successful candidates after primary school will obviously face less of a challenge than teachers in remote rural areas.

So what makes a good teacher? What do you think? Hit the comment button and contribute!


ENROLMENT: All parents dream of sending their children to the best schools, but there are other alternatives.

It is the ambition of every parent and student to attend the best schools and universities available. This is usually a guarantee of future success in this competitive world.
The problem is that with all the pressure to achieve good marks, superior - star schools are forgetting about the importance of holistic education and concentrating only on their students achieving high marks.
This competition begins when the students have to take their Primary Leaving Examinations (PLE). Educationists are concerned about this growing trend amongst parents competing for slots in star schools. This trend has also been cited as the cause of the competition among schools to work entirely towards passing national examinations. It is true that star schools instill discipline, hard work and perseverance in their students, but is the competition threatening the intellectual health of the students.

Good O’level education provides a foundation for both A’level and university education. When a child excels at O’levels, they are assured of being able to join a good A’level school and their future chances of joining university and receiving government sponsorship are high. It is the accepted way of progressing through the education system, but what about all those who do not make it? Does it mean the end of one’s child’s educational future?
Parents must remember that even students in so-called 'rural' schools can still pass and make it to university. It is simply a matter of discipline and determination. Even children in star schools can fail.

Many parents want their children to join top performing schools and pass with flying colours, but is that a good, wholesome education?

There are many secondary schools in rural areas with adequate facilities to provide a good education to enable children to perform well academically and in all other aspects of life. Good buildings and equipment are important, but the most basic requirement in the school is the teacher. If the teacher is incompetent, then you cannot achieve good results. It is not the school that passes the examinations, but the ability and willingness of the child to learn coupled with the efforts of the teachers. This can be achieved in any secondary school with basic standards.

People should not be frustrated because they cannot get a vacancy for their children in a top school. They must do research and identify other options and other good schools that will meet the educational needs of their children. They must accept that star schools are not the only way for their children to make a future for themselves.
What needs to be done to reduce the fuss about top schools?

It is obvious that all our schools need to be improved and transformed into learning centers of excellence. To enable schools to meet the required standards, they need to be rehabilitated and equipped with sports facilities as well as libraries and laboratories, good dormitories and good staff houses. Especially important is the building and improving of schools in remote areas.
Most importantly, we must not forget that the students are the most important thing. Their educational health and preparedness for the future, is more important than the marks they get now.

Your comments are welcome - we’d love to hear your thoughts! Please hit the comment link and let us know what you think.

08 February 2011


Last November, eight of our students sat for Primary Leaving Examinations at Nadangila Primary School. Our students sit their final exams there. Few of us had any hopes that any of our students would pass. Of the 8 pupils who sat for the exams, the best three passed in second division and the rest in third division. There were no failures! (in the picture is there Headteacher,Teddy at the farewell party organized for them-SPACC PLE LEAVERS)
Research shows that poor PLE results is strongly linked to poor reading skills. In most parts of central and northern Uganda, thousands of pupils are helpless when faced with exams, as they neither understand the questions nor do they have the ability to write the correct answers.
There is what is called “thematic curriculum” that started five years ago. This curriculum is aimed at teaching pupils in their local language from primary one to four, and then they switch to English. It has been found that pupils who start their primary education in their mother tongue have a better chance of improving their reading skills if they get good teachers to help them with the transition to English in primary four. However, there is always the challenge of funding for training teachers to manage the transition because most teachers admit they did not receive any training. The first pupils studying under the thematic curriculum will be starting their primary five classes this year.
Most critically, it has been revealed that reading skills are so low, with children remaining virtually illiterate even after three years in school. When asked to read a simple passage at P2 level, nearly 70% of children could not do so successfully. When it comes to reading comprehension, scores are extremely low, with nearly 90% of children scoring zero on the comprehension task.
It’s been noted that the lack of reading materials is a major hindrance to reading development. One can barely find textbooks for literacy class, in either P2 or P3. It shows that children are learning to read without materials to refer to or learn from which is far from ideal.
We recommend that we get support to include new initiatives in encouraging reading in class, as well as teaching formal comprehension techniques and setting literacy benchmarks. We also recommend that mother tongue assessments should be included at the end of primary examinations and a new focus on teacher professional development.
A child who goes to school everyday and ends up illiterate or semi-literate will not only experience self-esteem problems, but will also develop a negative attitude towards school. As a result, some of them drop out of school. Reading is not being taught properly as a subject and as a result, pupils in middle primary are finding it hard to understand what they are taught.
We are requesting all sorts of support from our contacts and collaborators to remain committed to this reading initiative and also to carry out a follow-up until the pupils complete their primary school learning.