approved http://centthor.com/wp-admin/includes/class-wp-upgrader-skin.php geneva; font-size: small; line-height: 150%;”>Since its inception in 1997, the program according to ANNPCAN saw a near doubling in primary school enrollment, from 2.9 million pupils in 1996, to 5.3 million in 1997 and registered enormous strides in advancing education for children in the country.
“Despite the early success, completion at Primary seven has tremendously reduced from 63 to 54% by 2010 and the gulf between enrollment and completion is virtually inconceivable. This is partially attributed to years of neglect and underfunding which has rendered the program incompetent,” explained Marlon Agaba the Senior Program officer, Information and policy advocacy at ANPCAN while addressing journalists in Kampala.
He added, “limited funding especially to rural schools has turned them into ghost schools with ram shackled classrooms and stinky toilets.”
According to officials from ANNPCAN, there is a 43.6% teacher absenteeism rate in UPE schools adding that the dropout rate has also increased due to poverty, corporal punishments and lack of feeding.
“We carried out a survey in the Northern, Eastern, West Nile and Central regions of the country and 71% of the children mentioned corporal punishment as the main impediment to enjoyment of school life,” explained Agaba adding that many children walk long distances to school.
“We demand that the Universal Primary Education Policy be amended, to provide for compulsory feeding of pupils at schools because it’s untenable for children to study on empty stomachs.”
According Agaba, the law must also be revised, to allow parents provide meals for their children whereas the Children’s Act should also be amended to outlaw corporal punishments.
“There should be concerted efforts from all stakeholders to make education better for all children in the country.”
He further urged the education ministry through Inspectors of Schools and District Education Officers to strengthen monitoring geared towards countering teacher absenteeism which he said would uplift the standard of education in UPE schools.