The outcry on poor working conditions was made during celebrations to mark World Teachers Day, an event proclaimed by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization UNESCO to mobilize support for teachers and to ensure that they meet the needs of future generations worldwide.
Teachers in Kabarole and Mbarara districts in western Uganda, say that they are finding it hard to be effective in teaching amid tough working conditions.
The outcry was made during celebrations to mark World Teachers Day, an event proclaimed by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization - UNESCO to mobilize support for teachers and to ensure that they meet the needs of future generations worldwide.
The celebrations in Mbarara were held at Uganda National Teachers Union grounds on Boma Hill in Mbarara Municipality while teachers in Fort Portal converged at Kagote SDA hall.
Sandra Kemigisa has been a teacher since 1993. She says she enjoyed the teaching profession before the introduction of the Universal Primary Education - UPE programme, because classes were limited to 65 pupils. Kemigisa, a P5 teacher at Kichwamba Primary School is currently teaching a class of 155 pupils.
She says that such a teacher-pupil ratio makes it difficult for teachers to inspect each child's classwork.
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At Nyabweya Primary School, Francis Muhenda, teaches 126 pupils in a P6 class. He says that such a pupil population is straining to the teacher, making it impossible to mark class exercise every day.
Muhenda says that the congestion does not give them time to attend to some of the pupils who need specialized help. He adds that unlike the past, the status of teachers in the country has today fallen, citing occasions when teachers have to queue up with pupils to share toilets.
Beatrice Nyakaisiki, a teacher at Buheesi Primary School says teachers do not have reason to celebrate but should instead mourn on this day because of failure by the government to address the plight of teachers.
Nyakaisiki says that many teachers are now forced into part time employment elsewhere to cover up for shortfalls in their earnings.
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Ernest Kajura, a teacher at Karambi Primary School, says that though teachers are doing their best, they are overstretched and wants the government to urgently construct more classroom blocks and schools to cater for the high enrollment.
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Although the Ministry of Education recommended teacher-student ratio stands at 1:40, most schools especially in rural areas struggle with high numbers of pupils. Teachers in the past have laid down their tools and stayed home demanding salary increment from the government.
In Mbarara speaker after speaker expressed concern over the delayed salaries for the months of July, August and September.