Kampala — Madrasa Early Childhood Development Institute graduates yesterday asked government to set a salary scale for pre-primary teachers and caregivers.
This was during the institution's third graduation ceremony in Mengo, a Kampala suburb, which saw at least 90 students receive certificates in early childhood development. Madrasa Early childhood is a programme of the Aga Khan Foundation.
"We started off timidly for various reasons like difference in age, some had been out of school for some time, we had forgotten how to handle a pen, let alone catch up with the dictation speed. Nevertheless, we overcame our fears... We implore the Ministry of Education [and Sports] to set a standard salary scale for pre-primary teachers and caregivers," 60-year Edith Kigongo spoke on behalf of her graduates.
Mr George Mutekanga, assistant Commissioner in-charge of Private Schools, acknowledged the roles pre-school teachers play but said it is currently managed by private investors and until government expands its services to the section, it will be difficult to include them on government payroll.
"It is an issue we all recognise. As government, we have asked all schools to have nursery schools. We are negotiating on how to handle it in government-aided primary schools. For now, parents must take responsibility of their children up to nursery school level. We have been having a debate of a salary wage as a country and the process is still ongoing. This is the time to also discuss the caregivers and nursery teachers as key people in a child's development," Mr Mutekanga said.
Mr Shiraz Alibhai, Madrasa regional committee vice chairperson, said they have trained 3,000 pre-school teachers in the last 25 years, who have supported more than 70,000 children. He added that when you train children in their early years, it unlocks their opportunities and encouraged parents to prioritise early childhood development.
Mr Daoud Esmail, chairman National Board asked the graduands to use the skills they have acquired to open the children's minds so that they may learn and follow their dreams as they grow.
The chairman board of governors, Dr Hasib Takuba Kabuye, applauded the institute for expanding its services from offering certificates to now diplomas in early childhood development.
Mr Gaham Wood, the CEO, said: "We strongly believe that if the children have a strong foundation, they will have the power to cause massive social and economic changes needed for Uganda. We needed to be supported by well-trained caregivers which we are doing at Madrasa Institute."