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“While we are always quick
to recognise education as the driving force for development in any country, we
need to ask ourselves in our different capacities, (as ministers, as technical officers,
as leaders, parents and students) an important question. Is education possible
Rudi Veestraeten, Belgium Ambassador to Uganda.
Simply put, teachers are the most important agents of change in the education process. Their role is one that cannot be over-emphasized because it stretches beyond their obligation and responsibility to pass on information to one that directly or indirectly influences the lives of students. Whether this in a classroom during the early stages of education or in a lecture hall at tertiary institutions, their role is central to the education process. Therefore, for students to learn and obtain the best education they need more than just books and resources, they need qualified teachers.
It is with this in mind, that Enabel in partnership with the Ministry of Education and Sports set out to improve the quality of education in Uganda, with a focus on teachers through the Teacher Training Education (TTE) project. This project majorly focuses on improving secondary teacher education in the National Teachers’ Colleges (NTCs) of Mubende, Muni, Kabale, Kaliro and Unyama.
Improving the Profession
In the days leading up to the National teacher day celebrations, the Teacher Training Education project organised a separate event on 2nd October hosted by NTC Kabale. This event brought together a diverse group of stakeholders from the Ministries, Uganda National Teachers’ Union (UNATU), Teacher colleges and education development partners to honour the contribution of teachers from the National Teachers’ Colleges to the education process.
Under the global theme ‘Young teachers: The Future of the Profession’, the event tackled several objectives namely: presenting the impact of the National Teacher Policy on secondary teacher education, showcasing new in innovations that can improve teacher education, advocating for the needs of the NTCs and recognizing and honouring outstanding NTC staff.
While the act of teaching may be considered as a highly rewarding process, the teaching profession is not without its challenges. During his speech, H.E Rudi Veestraeten, the Ambassador of Belgium highlighted several challenges affecting teachers in Uganda today. Among these was the low salaries, limited scope for career development and poor infrastructure. He, however, called upon all stakeholders to make more efforts to retain the young talents and brightest minds within the profession.
In an attempt to address the needs and challenges that teachers face today, two advocacy points were raised during the teacher’s day celebration. One was the need to shift the focus from theory to practice. Dubbed as “Practice Makes Perfect”, the project showcased an innovation called the Continuous School Practise (CSP) Pilot system that is currently running in the five National Teachers’ Colleges. This pilot system provides young pre-service teachers with the opportunity to acquire hands-on teaching skills and practice new learner-centred teaching methodologies in an actual classroom. Among the other innovations in this area, is the online education platform on revised and modernized general teaching methods course that is currently under development. This online course provides easy and free learning resources to NTC in-service teachers ‘anytime and anywhere’, an aspect that can greatly improve access to education.
The second advocacy point raised, focussed on closing staff gaps in the NTCs. This stemmed from the human resource challenges that the current establishment could not fulfil. The existing structure of the NTCs operates with staff gaps such as ICT managers, procurement officers, laboratory technicians among others, which limit the operational capacity of the colleges.
Addressing these issues provided a grand opportunity for stakeholders to support teachers in the NTCs to deliver to the best of their ability and prepare them to teach in the 21st century. Kyambogo University the examination body of the NTCs committed to reviewing the college curriculum to include Continuous School Practices (CSP), Active Teaching and Learning (ATL) methodologies, ICT and gender-responsive pedagogy. The Ministry of Education and Sports committed to providing demonstration schools attached to the NTCs for better teaching practice, recognising the use of mentors to strengthen pedagogical support and allocating a budget for CSP. The Ministry of Public Service, on the other hand, committed to fulfilling all the positions in the NTC establishment with a gender-based approach.
This event also saw both the teaching and non-teaching staff awarded for their outstanding performance and service in the institutions.
The Teacher Training Education (TTE) Project places massive focus on three key areas of Institutional development, Infrastructure and Pedagogy, which when combined contribute to improving the quality of education in the National Teachers’ Colleges.