Background to the Thematic Pillar: Education
Government has invested significant resources to promote the UPE and USE programmes. Funding has been secured to improve infrastructure through the building of classrooms, latrines, science rooms and libraries. In addition funds have been allocated for the improvement of water and sanitation facilities in schools. However in spite of these interventions girls and women still have lower literacy levels compared to men and boys, which limits their personal development and their participation in the other processes. Government and parents therefore need to pay renewed attention to the retention of the girl child in school.
The quality of education has remained a major source of contention with key concerns being about the inability to focus on education that enhances innovation and encourages people to think and explore their abilities. The education curriculum is based on assessing the capacity to pass exams and not on holistic development such as: competence for survival, analytical skills; understanding gender diversity and capabilities, hence making it irrelevant in the new world order. Other challenges faced in implementing the UPE and USE programmes identified in the past have been: sharing of sanitary facilities by boys and girls; failure to make UPE compulsory and negative cultural and societal attitudes, towards girl’s education and women’s empowerment.
Concerns have also been raised with regard to gender stereotypes and instilling of gender roles through educational materials that disregard the other positive roles that women play, beyond reproduction and domestic labour. Furthermore sexuality and gender education is still very limited. This affects the teachers and learners ability to critique harmful social and traditional practices and to understand how the power relationships between men and women, boys and girls, impact on gender, sexuality and sexual relations.
5.2 Key Priorities Within the Thematic Pillar: Education
Girl’s Performance and Retention
The quality of primary education is affected by a combination of factors such as: absence of regular inspection; inadequate instructional materials; automatic promotion of pupils; high levels of absenteeism by teachers and poor terms and conditions of service, among others. Completion rates have remained low and this is worse among girls. Completion rates were at 30% in 2007, and had dropped to 25% in 2008 . Key factors that explain high girl child drop-out after primary four are: poor sanitation in schools, early marriages and the widespread preference for educating boys at the expense of girls. Girls are also still largely underrepresented in technical and science subjects.
Functional Adult Literacy
Functional Adult Literacy has taken root in Uganda and it is encouraging to note that there is overwhelming demand for it in the whole country. 85% of attendees are women with an average of two classes per sub-county. This is advantageous but at the same time challenging as more men control household resources and decision making and it is important that they too have to be literate. In addition, there is a draft Non-formal Adult Education Policy that streamlines the operation of adult literacy.
Indeed the available resources cannot meet the overwhelming and increasing demand for FAL. There is inadequate supply of instructional materials and the reliance on voluntary literacy instructors, which negatively affect the implementation of the program. Many women are not reached by FAL and yet their level of literacy affects their effective participation in leadership and local governance. Other challenges in implementing the programme are: the limited access to functional literacy by persons with special learning needs due to lack of trained literacy instructors in Braille and sign language and the lack of an effective information management system also affects the program since there are no up to date statistics.
The Change We Want to See
1. Review of the Affirmative Action Policy in the education sector, to promote the enrolment of girls in Teacher Training Colleges and Polytechnics
2. Increased investment in Polytechnics that cater for primary education drop outs, the majority of whom are girls
3. Enforcement of laws and regulations that encourage girl’s enrolment and retention in schools, while addressing barriers to their education such as: child sacrifice, sexual harassment, FGM, early marriages and the lack of sanitary towels
4. Re-designed training curriculums in all institutions of education, to ensure that they are gender responsive
5. Improved conditions of service for teachers and provision of incentives to ensure quality education and the retention of staff
6. Development of a gender responsive policy and implementation of regulations, for the effective implementation of the Business, Technical and Vocational Training (BTVET) Act
7. Increased resource allocation to Universal Secondary Education, to ensure the provision of quality education
8. Increased resource allocation for FAL and finalisation of the draft Non-Formal Adult Education Policy, in order to streamline and promote the coverage of FAL country wide.