Give more funds to education, says Belgian envoy to Uganda

The Belgian Ambassador to Uganda, Mr. Rudi Veestraeten, has called on the government to increase funding for the education sector.

Speaking during Teachers’ Day celebrations at the Muni National Teachers College (NTC) this weekend, Ambassador Rudi said the government should deliver on the promises it has made to the international community and partners that funding would increase.

He said there has been a decrease in funding, which has had a negative effect on learning.
“You see the effects of this decrease (in funding) every day. Students and teachers lack materials such as books and computers. Classes are too big and teachers cannot pay enough attention to students,” said Ambassador Rudi.

At Arua Public Secondary School, students take classes on a rotating basis due to the limited number of classrooms.

As part of efforts to complement government, the Belgian organization Enabel has supported the education sector, particularly across West Nile, improving the quality of education through teacher training.

This aims to strengthen the professional skills of teacher trainers and graduate teachers from the five NTCs of Muni, Mubende, Kaliro, Kabale and Unyama.

Donors, which are mostly member states of the European Union, have approved a 620 billion shilling grant to enable investments in the education sector under the Global Partnership for Education (GPE) .

The Director of Muni NTC, Mrs. Daisy Aliwaru, said that although the infrastructure of the college is improved, the government should increase funding for the smooth functioning of the education sector.
“We continue to operate with an insufficient per capita subsidy of Shs 1,800 per student per day. We are asking the government to increase this amount to at least Shs 5,000 per student. We can’t do much with that. And we have insufficient staff, which affects the education sector,” she said.

According to the budget for the financial year 2022/2023, the Ministry of Education has allocated 4.14 trillion shillings for education and training sub-programmes.

Responding to concerns, Minister of State for Primary Education, Dr Joyce Moriku, said the government was committed to increasing funding to the education sector.
“We are heading towards an increase in funding. We have already done this for UPE and USE. We are also moving towards higher education institutions,” she said without giving details of the date.

She said education reforms lead to a gradual increase in teachers’ salaries.
According to the Minister of Finance, Mr. Matia Kasaija, during the reading of the budget for the financial year 2022/2023, said that priority would be given to improving the quality of education.

“We will have filled staffing gaps in primary and secondary schools, training of teachers and instructors on the new abbreviated curriculum will continue, and the junior high curriculum will be rolled out,” he said.

Challenges
Due to insufficient funding in the education sector, schools are struggling with inadequate classrooms, few teachers and poor housing conditions, which has prompted many people to rent their school premises.

In June, secondary school art teachers under the Uganda National Teachers’ Union (Unatu) went on a three-week sit-in to protest against selective pay increases.

Science teachers now earn nearly four times as much as their arts counterparts.

The monthly salary of a secondary science teacher is up 2.5 million shillings to 4.2 million shillings, while a junior will receive 2.2 million shillings, up from 795,000 shillings and 858,000 shillings . Art teachers continue to earn between Shs1.2m and Shs700,000.

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