PAC Questions Minister on Planned Teacher Education Institute

A section of legislators on the Public Accounts Committee-PAC Central Government has criticized the proposed Uganda National Institute of Teacher Education-UNITE, saying it is likely to render university faculties and colleges of teacher education redundant.

The legislators tasked John Chrysostom Muyingo, the Minister of State for Higher Education to explain the proposed establishment of the institute. The Minister was appearing before the committee Tuesday to respond to audit queries in the financial year 2020/2021 report by the Auditor General on the Ministry of Education and Sports and cross-cutting issues about the education sector.

The National Teacher Policy, which was approved by Cabinet in 2019 states that UNITE, a typical university that will likely receive accreditation from the Uganda National Council for Higher Education, will take over 23 core primary teacher colleges-PTC and national teachers colleges as its satellite campuses and offer four-year degree programs for teachers. Medard Lubega Sseggona, the PAC Chairperson asked whether the education to be offered by the institute will be different from that offered by universities. 

Jonathan Kamwana, the Commissioner for Teacher Education said that a Teacher’s Education Council will regulate the teacher education program to ensure that only the best teachers enter schools. This did not go well with the MPs who argued that this is to render teacher degrees from universities useless.

“This means you want to phase out education programs from universities. You need to go back and revise this,” said Sseggona. Asuman Basalirwa, the Bugiri Municipality MP asked the officials not to relate the proposed Institute to the Law Development Centre (LDC). 

He said that LDC’s purpose is different and designed to accommodate law students from everywhere. Basalirwa said that what is planned by the Education Ministry is likely to create discrimination in the labor market.

Sarah Opendi, the Tororo Woman MP questioned why the Ministry of Education was not seeking more resources from Parliament to increase the salaries of all teachers in order to motivate them and improve the quality of education. She said that instead of targeting teacher education, the Ministry should concentrate on better remuneration of teachers.

In response, Muyingo said that his ministry will need to sensitize Members of Parliament about the National Teacher Policy. He said that the quality of people that Uganda needs depends on quality education and the Ministry wants to ensure the professionalism of teachers. 

Jane Egau, the Director for Higher Technical and Vocational Education and Training said their several issues under the Teacher Policy, and these resulted from studies carried out in 2013. Jonathan Kamwana, the Commissioner for Teacher Education and Training told MPs that the Uganda National Institute of Teacher Education will have a specialized program for students training to be teachers. 

“Other universities will benchmark from the institute. Those studying from the institute will train for four years whereas those from other universities will come to the institute for a one-year internship program,” said Kamwana. Sseggona directed the Ministry officials to present the National Teacher Policy to the committee and the reports that they based on.      

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