By Max Patrick Ocaido
Katakwi: Katakwi District beat the odds to register a record 93 pupils in Division One in the 2018 Primary Leaving Examinations (PLE) despite having a shortage of over 300 teachers.
This was revealed on Friday at Apuuton Primary School where Katakwi Woman MP Violet Akurut Adome was thanking the pupils, teachers for registering such a huge success despite several hitches that continue to stifle education sector in the district. MP Akurut rewarded each pupil who got grade one with a four inch mattress while the best pupils also got a pair of bedsheets.
It is the first time Katakwi district has registered over 90 pupils in Division One and being the fourth best district in Teso sub region. The best 3 pupils got 8 aggregates with one being a girl identified as Deborah Aanyu.
During the ceremony that was attended by all district leaders, the Head of all head teachers in the district, Saberio Okiror, also head teacher for Atoroma P/S cited shortage of primary teachers as one major reason still hampering the performance in the district.
“The reason why we are still struggling is that we have few teachers. We have only 721 teachers out of 1074 teachers that the district requires. So it means we are few and the head teachers are sometimes forced to go and do the teaching to fill up the gap of more than 300 teachers,” Okiror said. He appealed to the area MPs to put government to task to ensure that the wage bill is increased to accommodate more teachers in the next financial year.
“The other challenge is some teachers who were recruited in August have not had their salary up to now. Some teachers, their names disappeared from the payroll.”
Apparently, out of 78 primary schools in the district, there are only two substantive head teachers and the rest are still caretaking. By policy every school must have a substantive head teacher and deputy head teacher.
When put to task by MP Akurut, the District Education Officer, Angella Atim said that her office has already processed appointment letters for the head teachers and they will soon be handed over and deployment will be effected. She urged head teachers to seriously follow up any complaints of teachers missing salaries so that they are addressed.
MP Akurut assured the meeting that they are in talks with the education commission to recruit teachers to fill up the gap.
“We are pushing for 150 teachers to add to the 700 available and this is a matter we have taken quiet seriously. Next week, we are having a meeting for the same and we shall subsequently inform the office of the DEO,” Akurut said.
Akurut also tasked parents and pupils to embrace vocational education saying that every year over 4000 students graduate, but only about 1000 get jobs.
“Our curriculum does not support agriculture, or other technical courses like plumbing etc. We need to embrace and reorient our curriculum. This is a very big challenge but we have been pushing for this with curriculum development centre when I was a member of parliamentary education committee,” Akurut said. Bukedea Comprehensive Academy belonging to Bukedea Woman MP Anita Among is one of such demonstration schools that is providing hands-on elementary courses on top of the usual secondary curriculum at no extra cost.
Akurut has been passionate about primary education in the district and barely three years as MP, PLE results have improved for the last 3 years. Akurut has been distributing assessment exams papers and scholastic materials to the candidates to prepare them for the final exams. It is not a surprise that district leaders and parents on Friday showered her with praises for uprooting the district from the past where they would even struggle to register a pupil in grade one.
“There was a time when we would even struggle to find a kid in division one but now we are hitting 100mark. This is attributed to hard work from our MPs and other leaders in the district,” DEO Atim said.
Akurut said she will continue to support primary education in the district and once it has taken off then she will also turn her efforts to supporting secondary education which is still lagging behind.
“I pledge my total support in primary education and with commitment from all stakeholders, we shall succeed. I will continue to bring assessment exams twice in a term for the 2019 candidates. I am confident that next year, we shall register about 200 pupils in grade one,” she said.
The function was also attended by the Head teacher of Bukedea Comprehensive Academy, Abubaker Obilan who represented MP Anita Among.