Uganda will not register new teachers with diplomas or allow them to practice in the country from January next year, a senior education official said.
Those with diplomas now have eight years to upgrade to degree level or be forced out of the profession, the commissioner for teacher education training and development at the Ministry of Education and Sports, Jonathan Kamwana, said.
In new reforms, the Cabinet approved the 2019 Teacher Policy that seeks to ensure that all teachers are degree holders by 2030.
Mr Kamwana was speaking during the graduation ceremony of 1,050 students at Muni National Teachers’ College in Arua City at the weekend.
“You now have about eight years from now if you are to stay in the teaching profession. The policy has four broad aims and specific objectives, but one that affects us, teachers, mainly is that we are establishing the Uganda National Institute of Teacher Education (Unite) to be the niche in teacher education,” he explained.
Mr Kamwana said the ministry is also in the process of introducing a law in Parliament, which will regulate the teaching profession. He added that starting January 1, 2023, teachers with diplomas will not be registered by the government and will not be allowed to practice anywhere.
Fr Dr Epiphany Picho, the chairperson of the Governing Council of Muni Teacher College, challenged the graduates not to be satisfied with the academic qualifications they had.
“A diploma is now an equivalent of a baptism card. We must cope with what is in other parts of the world. You cannot become a teacher unless you have a bachelor’s degree and a post graduate diploma,” he said.
Fr Picho added: “Even if you are going to teach in a nursery school, are we going to take pride in remaining Grade III or Grade V teachers?”
However, Ms Proscovia Adiru, one of the graduates, highlighted the challenges of enrolling for a degree course.
“It is important to upgrade but sometimes parents are limited by finances. Degree courses have become expensive and this limits people,” she said. She urged the Ministry of Education to make education to regulate the tuition levied for both degree and master’s programmes.
Prof Elly Katunguka, the vice chancellor of Kyambogo University, said the new education reforms will make the sector better.
“We want to move a step forward because degree courses will open ways for better learning for students. This policy was done in consultation with education stakeholders and will be fast tracked for its success,” he said.
According to 2022 statistics by the Ministry of Education and Sports, Uganda has at least 550,000 teachers employed in public and private schools.
Under the new Teachers Policy, the government is converting many of the phased-out national teachers colleges and teacher training colleges into secondary schools and vocational training institutions while the retained teacher colleges will only award degrees.