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UN Urges Uganda to Improve Transition from Primary to Secondary as First Lady Plots to Rid Schools of Hunger.

Thursday, 11th August 2016

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By UNATCOM

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Kampala.

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The\r\nUnited Nations (UN) has advised Uganda to extend its exploits in education\r\nbeyond the primary level to higher echelons of schooling such as secondary.

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Mr. Al-Haji Jallow, the Food and\r\nAgriculture Organization (FAO) Country Representative Uganda, standing in for\r\nMrs. Rosa Malango, the UN Resident Coordinator, applauded Uganda for reaching Millennium\r\nDevelopment Goal (MDG) Two on achieving Universal Primary Education (UPE). He\r\nwas quick to counsel the country to equally lay emphasis on the secondary\r\nlevel.

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Making reference to the 2014 Teachers\r\nInitiative in Sub-Saharan Africa (TISSA) report, a tool developed by UN to\r\nanalyze teacher issues in an integrated manner, Mr. Jallow nevertheless decried\r\nthe high dropout rates and low transition figures registered in Uganda¡¯s\r\neducation system, advising the country to plug these vices.

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"The Government of Uganda has achieved\r\ngender parity in primary level enrollment. Over the last decade, girls¡¯ access\r\nto education at primary level increased from 32.6% in 2000 to 96.4% in 2015. While\r\nalmost every child enrolls in primary 1, only 61% of this generation reaches\r\nprimary 7. Less than 30% enroll in secondary school, of which only 47% are\r\ngirls. Ultimately, only 10% complete senior 6 in Uganda,¡± Mr. Jallow added.

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"In a world where technology is moving\r\nrapidly and where competitiveness requires a diversified and highly trained\r\nworkforce, it has become imperative to pay greater attention to post-secondary\r\neducation.¡±

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Mr.\r\nJallow made the comments at the closing ceremony of the two-day national\r\nconsultation dialogue on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) at Imperial\r\nRoyale hotel in Kampala on Thursday.

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The\r\nconference was sponsored by the United Nations Educational,\r\nScientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), the UN-lead agency in steering\r\neducation projects. 

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Uganda\r\nis the first country in Eastern Africa to hold a national consultative dialogue\r\non SDGs, with particular focus on SDG4 that requires UN member countries to\r\nprovide inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning\r\nopportunities for all by 2030. The 17 SDGs were approved by the UN general\r\nassembly last year.

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Achieving SDG4, Mr. Jallow noted,\r\nrequired new focus on science, technology and mathematics; expansion of skills\r\ndevelopment activities, particularly analytical thinking and hands on skills,\r\nas well as use of ICT; retaining of teachers; and enhancing initiative,\r\ninnovation and entrepreneurship.

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SDG 4 task force formed  

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During\r\nthe conference, stakeholders appointed the education ministry as the\r\ncoordinating agency for SDG 4. Ms. Rosie Agoi, the general secretary of Uganda\r\nNational Commission for UNESCO, said the ministry will work with other partners\r\n– UNESCO, Office of the Prime Minister, Uganda Bureau of Standards, UNICEF,\r\nprivate sector, civil society and universities.

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"The\r\npartners will constitute a national task force that is going to finalize the\r\ndraft road map on SDG 4 and mapping of the technical assistance needs by\r\nOctober 15. This will be in preparation for a regional forum for Eastern Africa\r\ndue to take place before January 2017,¡± Ms. Agoi said.

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Road map to be approved in January 2017

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Dr. Victoria Kanobe Kisaakye, the head\r\nof the UNESCO office in Uganda, while ornately interpreting the SDG4 Agenda at\r\ncountry level, said stakeholders would finalize the full narrative road map and\r\npresent it for endorsement via a policy-level review by the end of January\r\n2017. The review is done by a national ministerial/inter-ministerial/high-level\r\nmeeting.

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Dr. Rose Nassali Lukwago, the Permanent\r\nSecretary, Ministry of Education and Sports (MoES) appreciated the road map\r\ndeveloped by the consultation workshop, saying it was aligned to the current\r\neducation priorities which focus on turning Uganda into a middle income\r\ncountry.

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First Lady wants to end\r\nschool hunger

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The\r\nFirst Lady and education minister Janet Kataaha Museveni has expressed interest\r\nin ridding Uganda¡¯s education system of school hunger. She plans to trot the\r\ncountry, sensitizing parents to shoulder the responsibility of packing food for\r\ntheir children to school.

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"It\r\nis a shame that parents in this country can ignore feeding their children while\r\nat school. They expect government to feed the school going children. But this\r\nis wrong and a shame!¡± Ms. Janet said which officiating as chief guest at the\r\nworkshop.

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Ms.\r\nJanet said if Uganda is to achieve the SDGs that replaced the Millennium\r\nDevelopment Goals (MDGs) in 2015, parents should fulfill their role of feeding\r\nthe children at their respective homes and schools.

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"This\r\ncountry managed to feed its children even during the hard days (of war). How\r\ncome parents are saying they cannot feed their children, with a balanced diet,\r\nwhen there is peace in the country?¡± she wondered.

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Free education

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Uganda\r\nintroduced UPE in 1997 and Universal Secondary Education (USE) in 2007. Before\r\nthe introduction of UPE, parents packed food for children to government aided\r\nschools.

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However,\r\nsome of the parents misinterpreted the free education scheme to mean that the\r\ngovernment is responsible for the total welfare of their children at schools\r\nincluding, among others, providing fees, meals and scholastic materials.

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Some\r\nschools authorities have tried to raise money from parents to provide meals to\r\npupils, but the plan has been rejected by some parents claiming they cannot\r\nafford to pay extra fees for their children in UPE schools.

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The\r\nsame parents do not pack food for their children to school which undermines the\r\nalready poor academic standards in public primary schools.

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The\r\ngovernment also stopped schools from collecting extra fees for meals from\r\nparents, but in some in cases, where parents have accepted to contribute to the\r\nwelfare of their children by paying for meals, the schools continue to collect\r\nthe money.

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"The\r\ngovernment is paying fees, building schools and providing scholastic materials.\r\nThe parents should provide the meals. I have started a campaign of sensitizing\r\nparents to provide meals to their children and I need your support,¡± Ms. Janet\r\nstated.

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She\r\nalso added that, "As a country, we are still grappling with issues of drop-out\r\nrates which are high in some regions, especially for girls. We need strategies\r\nto address this challenge which has become a disease in our education system. We\r\nneed to ensure we have effective learning outcomes for both girls and boys, and\r\nensure that all young people have access to quality education.¡±..END

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