Bududa — A shortage of trained teachers for Early Grade Reading Achievement (EGRA) programme in government-aided primary schools in the districts of Bududa, Bulambuli and Bukedea is affecting the implementation of the programme, school heads have observed.
Mr Simon Makuma, the head teacher of Buwali Primary School in Bududa District, said although the programme has boosted enrolment of pupils in the schools, they still face a shortage of trained teachers with skills and knowledge in that field.
"The government should consider retraining more teachers in this programme because currently, we have fewer teachers yet the number of pupils is overwhelming," he said.
The head teachers voiced their concerns to officials from the Ministry of Education who had visited their schools to assess the progress of EGRA last week.
Ms Mary Christine Asire, the head teacher of Kongunga Primary School in Bukedea District, said a shortage of classrooms has also affected the programme.
"The government should think about constructing more classrooms to accommodate the increasing number of pupils," she said.
Mr Dominic Bwayo, the head teacher of Bumwalye Primary School in Bududa District, said at first, the programme faced resistance from parents but later, they understood its aims and started embracing it.
Ms Cecilia Kasula, a teacher at Buwali Primary School, said the government should extend the programme to upper classes.
"This has helped children to not only understand lessons but also read and pronounce sounds and letters fluently. It has also helped improve the reading culture of our pupils," Mr Makuma said.
However, Ms Kasula said they face challenges such as lack of instructional materials, desks and classrooms to accommodate the overwhelming number of pupils.
Mr Sam Mubajje, explained that the EGRA programme emphasises the use of instructional materials, which makes children understand and interpret quickly compared to the previous traditional method of teaching.
Mr Muwoya Wekhola, the Bududa District inspector of schools, said the programme has so far been successful.
The Bududa District education officer, Ms Betty Naster Khainza, said: "The programme has helped children to read, write and interpret letters, sound and sentences properly. This is quite commendable and the retention rate in schools in quite good."
Ms Judith Auma, a communication specialist, said the visit will be used as a benchmark for advocating for more resources in terms of funding and retraining early grade reading programme teachers.
In 2015, the Education ministry introduced the curriculum for teaching pupils in their mother tongue in lower primary schools after it had been piloted and approved by researchers both at local and at international level.
The programme is currently being implemented in 29 districts across the country.