The Kasiisi Project recognizes that the most important factor in the success of its programs is the staff. There is no one more critical to the achievement of our goals than the teachers in the schools. Underpaid, undertrained and hugely overworked, they are the kingpins of our organization and without their active support and buy-in we cannot reach our goals, however much money we invest in our programs.
Absenteeism in Uganda is ranked the highest in the world – 35% of teachers are guaranteed to miss at least 2 days of work a week. The result of poor working conditions and pay so low they are forced to supplement wages with other jobs.
The majority of Ugandan primary school teachers have 4 years of secondary school followed by 2 years of teacher training college, which gives them a certificate in primary education. They teach in English, a language that many of them are not very proficient in, to classes that often top 120 children and may reach 200.
Overwhelmed by marking homework, making lesson plans and leading required extra-curricular activities, in many schools they work in appalling conditions. It is not surprising that absenteeism among teachers is so high.
We show our appreciation and support of our teachers through programs that provide good working conditions, free housing, salaries, bonuses, enrichment and training. We provide bursaries that offer tuition for teachers to upgrade their qualifications, by helping them return to college to obtain diplomas and finally degrees in education. Our data show that schools with the best-trained teachers have significantly better exam scores.
Workshops designed to improve teaching skills and to help with teaching English as a foreign language are held regularly and educator volunteers from the US and UK are frequent visitors to the schools where they share new teaching methods with Ugandan colleagues.