Magazine article Times Educational Supplement

Workforce - Where Staff Skip Class, Not Students

Magazine article Times Educational Supplement

Workforce - Where Staff Skip Class, Not Students

Article excerpt

Uganda gets tough on teachers who moonlight in private schools.

One of the world's poorest countries is to crack down on teachers who desert their posts to moonlight in private schools, TES has learned.

Uganda has one of the highest rates of teacher absenteeism in the world. Now its government is attempting to tackle a major cause of the problem: teachers, paid to work in state schools, who are also working in private schools and collecting two full-time salaries.

The Ugandan government's own research has shown an overall teacher absence rate as high as 30 per cent in recent years, with 94 per cent of schools reporting absence as a problem.

Last year, a report from anti-corruption organisation Transparency International, using World Bank figures, suggested that only Kenya had a higher rate of teacher absence. India, Ghana, Senegal and Indonesia have also been identified as having particularly big problems.

The exact causes vary from country to country. In Uganda, alcoholism has been cited as a factor in some areas, but now the government is attempting to deal with an even bigger issue: money.

Harriet Kagezi, a senior official in the East African country's Ministry of Education and Sports, told TES that Uganda hoped to have a new computer system in place to track down errant teachers as soon as 2015. "It is a big challenge, which reduces the quality of school and teacher performance," she said, adding that teachers taking second jobs in private schools was a major reason for absence from their posts.

"They should be working in one school," she said. "They are supposed to (work) a minimum 35 hours (per week), which includes teaching and preparation time. So that shouldn't allow them to go to other schools." But government monitoring visits have shown that is exactly what is happening.

Ms Kagezi said it was impossible for the teachers to take simultaneous jobs in government schools because "we don't pay them twice". …

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