Uganda: Government to Enforce Local Language Teaching in Private Schools

The Ministry of Education and Sports has announced plans to implement the thematic curriculum in private primary schools across the country.

The ministry in 2007 rolled out thematic education, which promotes the use of local languages in lower primary (from Primary One to Primary Three), in public schools to address literacy and numeracy weaknesses among pupils.

State minister for Primary Education Rosemary Seninde, who was representing Education minister Janet Museveni at the opening of the 11th Pan-African literacy conference in Kampala yesterday, said they will soon start compelling private primary schools to implement the policy.

"Since we rolled out this policy in schools under the Universal Primary Education programme, the literacy rates have improved from 25 per cent to 77 per cent. We now want all private schools to start doing the same since all children belong to the government," Ms Seninde said.

She said they will soon roll out the programme in private schools.

"We are going to start mobilising the private schools, retool their teachers and see how this programme works. We know it is expensive to implement but all schools should appreciate the importance of teaching their children in their mother tongue," she added.

Ms Robinah Kyeyune, a teacher trainer and educationist, said a child introduced to their mother tongue at an early stage is confident and can easily respond to different challenges in their environment.

"The government should first work at changing the mindset of parents and head teachers in private schools if this policy is to work," Ms Kyeyune said. Mr Patrick Kaboyo, the secretary of the Federation of Non-State Education Institutions, said they are ready to implement the policy.

"The policy is good but its applicability is lacking. Most private schools are located in urban areas with pupils from different parts of the country. So what language can you teach those pupils because you cannot force someone's child to learn a particular language?" he said.

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