5 October 2009

Uganda: Education Standards Agency to Dispatch 40 Inspectors

The Ministry of Education will later this month dispatch 40 inspectors to ascertain whether schools meet the required the operational, safety and security standards, Daily Monitor has learnt.

Education Standards Agency director Mr Huzaifa Mutazindwalast week warned that schools that fall below the required standards will be closed.

"We carry out these inspections every term but some schools think it is a mere waste of time and they take no heed to improve," he said.

The agency is charged with monitoring the quality and standards of education provision in schools. According to Mr Mutazindwa, the inspectors from ESA will liaise with 906 associate assessors who were trained last year to check inspection in districts.

They will work with resident district commissioners, chief accounting officers and chairpersons of education committees.

The districts to be inspected are those that fared poorly in last year's inspection. They include Nakapiripit, Bukedea, Mukono, Soroti, Mpigi, Oyam, Mityana and Abim. Some of these districts also failed to account for the inspection funds government gave out last year.

The regular school inspections that had ceased in many districts were restarted by a fire that killed 20 pupils in a dormitory at Budo Junior School in April, 2008 and subsequent fires that hit several schools across the country.

90 per cent of the 398 schools that were closed last year for failure to meet minimum operational, safety and security standards were not licensed.

Mr Mutazindwa said the team will also oversee the dissemination of over 50,000 copies of Basic Requirements and Minimum Standards handbooks which were donated by Unicef.

The ESA director clarified that the inspectors would not only look at safety conditions, but also the quality and legality of the schools in the country. "We expect them (inspectors) to check the attendance books of both pupils and teachers, welfare of teachers and implementation of policies," he said.

According to the ministry guidelines, schools are supposed to be inspected at least once a term but this is rarely done due to a low number of inspectors. Last year, the ministry trained 906 associate assessors comprising of former teachers and head teachers to assist the existing inspectors in the districts.

The inspector to school ratio in Uganda currently stands at 1:90 which is far below the internationally recommended ratio of 1:40.

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