The government has been urged to pay more attention to the girl-child under the Universal Primary Education (UPE).
The call came from the Global Partnership for Education (GPE)’s chief executive officer, Alice Albright, as she toured some of the projects being implemented in Uganda.
Uganda recently received a $100m (about Shs 34bn) from GPE to improve education outcomes in the country, through training teachers, head teachers, improving infrastructure, among others.
The grant allows the government to buy more textbooks, construct more classrooms, train teachers, and provide advisory, technical, and capacity building activities to improve the overall education system. Albright said UPE has registered increased access to primary school education.
“Like any other developing country that subscribed to the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), Uganda has achieved a lot though their programme of UPE, but as development partners, what we want to see that the quality given to the pupils improves,” she said.
Speaking on the sidelines of a meeting with the Education Ministry last week Kampala, Albright said more effort needed to be invested on the girl-child.
“We need to ensure that we also reach the most marginalized children so everyone gets the same chance for a quality education,” she said. “[The] government should also work on the quality the pupils get, also make sure the minority access education; the girls should be given more attention to allow them go to school.”
Speaking on behalf of the ministry, Charles Bakkabulindi, the state minister for Sports, said grants from GPE had been used to enhance UPE by improving teachers and school effectiveness in the public primary education system in the country.
“Government initiated UPE in 1997 targeting three-million pupils but when people realized its usefulness more pupils enrolled than we expected, right now we are looking at roughly 8.1 million pupils,” he said.
Bakabulindi explained that the large enrolment had put pressure on the state to improve infrastructure and retrain in-service teachers, while bringing in more instructors.
“Through the grant, we want to put up infrastructure, also reduce the teacher–pupil ratio which is at 1:100 to 1:60. In the near future we want see that teachers get thematic skills which they can transfer to the 8.1 milliom UPE students that we have,” he said.
The three-year program is expected to provide training to 20,800 primary school teachers to enable them improve the teaching of early grade reading and math for one million children.
“As the ministry of education is leading the program, UNICEF will be doing the coordination; 8000 school management committee members and head teachers are being trained in management and accountability,” Bakabulindi said.
Other beneficiaries will include parents and communities with children in the schools covered by the project. The project has also trained 2,635 head teachers under its Early Grade teacher Training component, as well as 700 tutors under Teacher Education Proficiency.
The GPE supports 61 developing countries to ensure that every child receives quality basic education, prioritizing the poorest, most vulnerable and those living in fragile and conflict-affected countries.