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Govt Can’t Fund School Boarding, Janet Reveals



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 Minister of Education and Sports, First Lady Janet K Museveni, has stated that the government is currently unable to support boarding sections in schools, citing financial constraints.

Despite repeated appeals from parents and community leaders to construct dormitories in government-aided and founded schools to address the issue of girls dropping out, Janet Museveni asserted that the government cannot bear the associated costs of managing boarding facilities.

Speaking at the founders’ day event of Samson Kalibbala Memorial Seed Secondary School in Lwamaggwa Sub-county, Rakai district, Mrs. Museveni mentioned that the government is yet to fully assume responsibility for covering the social welfare costs of students in addition to their education, as stipulated by the universal education policy.

She explained that boarding sections reintroduce the financial burden of sustainability that the government currently cannot afford. She also highlighted the ongoing challenge of ensuring that all students receive meals while at school.

Mrs. Museveni further clarified that the government’s education policy focuses on establishing public primary and secondary schools at the parish and sub-county levels, with shared responsibilities between parents and the government. This approach allows for the joint care of children, rather than placing the entire burden on the government, which already faces various competing demands.

Mrs. Museveni was responding to requests from the school’s Board of Governors, who sought government support to construct dormitories, particularly to benefit female students who face long and challenging commutes, adversely affecting their education.

Ali Mazzi, Chairperson of the Board of Governors of Samson Kalibbala Memorial Seed Secondary School, highlighted that despite significant infrastructure and human resource improvements, the school still grapples with a high dropout rate among girls due to early marriages and pregnancies resulting from the long distances they have to travel.

In response, the Education Minister emphasized the need for communities to formally commit to addressing the social needs of children in school if they want the Ministry of Education to consider policy revisions.

Meanwhile, Mrs. Museveni called on parents and community leaders to combat behaviors that distract students from completing their education, aiming to improve their overall quality of life.

Beti Olive Namisango Kamya, the Inspector General of Government and Chairperson of the Foundation Body of Samson Kalibbala Seed Secondary School, expressed gratitude to the government for supporting the school. She noted that in 2015, they handed the school over to the government, which subsequently benefited from the Uganda Intergovernmental Fiscal Transfers-UgFift program funded by the World Bank. The school has received 2.10 billion shillings for infrastructural development, leading to increased enrollment and academic performance, according to Kamya.

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How to breastfeed a baby as a first time mother

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Prof. Mary Okwakol Steps Down as Chairperson of Uganda National Examinations Board

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Prof. Mary Okwakol has concluded her tenure as the Chairperson of the Uganda National Examinations Board (UNEB), a position she held since 2014.

The formal handover ceremony took place, with Prof. Okwakol passing the reins to Prof. Celestino Obua, the Vice Chancellor of Mbarara University of Science and Technology. The Minister of State for Higher Education, Hon. John Chrysestom Muyingo, graced the occasion to witness the transition.

Prof. Obua’s appointment was made by the Minister of Education and Sports, Hon. Janet Kataha Museveni, on October 12, 2023.

In a statement released by UNEB on November 3, 2023, the Examinations body expressed its appreciation for Prof. Okwakol, who is also recognized as the founding Vice Chancellor of Busitema University, one of Uganda’s nine public universities.

Dan Odongo, the UNEB Executive Director, bid a fond farewell to Prof. Okwakol and acknowledged her service, saying, “We give thanks and praise to the Almighty God for the peaceful years that Professor Mary Okwakol has served as the Chairperson. I say ‘peaceful’ because she was appointed and took over at a time when UNEB had gone through nearly two turbulent years in its governance.”

Odongo further lauded Prof. Okwakol’s leadership, citing her adherence to the principles of good governance. He emphasized that she avoided becoming overly involved in the daily management of the institution, setting a positive example.

Prof. Okwakol assumed the role in 2014, succeeding Fagil Mandy, who had resigned due to President Museveni’s decision to extend the contract of the then UNEB Executive Director, Matthew Bukenya.

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UCC Donates Tablets to Enhance Connectivity in Bulambuli District

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The Ugandan government, represented by the Uganda Communications Commission (UCC), has generously distributed free tablets (handset phones) to the residents of the Administration Cell in Bulambuli Town Council, Bulambuli district.

On Thursday, November 2, 2023, the tablets were presented to the community with the aim of fostering improved connectivity and encouraging digital utilization to advance agriculture, business, and education through IT innovation and creativity.

The official handover of these digital devices took place at the Bulambuli district headquarters.

Akimu Womazembe, one of the recipients of these tablets, expressed his gratitude to both the government and UCC for their generous contribution. He highlighted his intention to use the device for communication with his children and other family members, saying, “I am glad to have this gadget because I had no money to buy it. I will use it for communication and my children for studying.”

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Another beneficiary, James Wanyoto, emphasized how the tablets would facilitate his grandchildren in conducting research for their studies.

Amir Kamba, the Deputy Resident District Commissioner (RDC) of Bulambuli district, urged the recipients to utilize these gadgets for online marketing of their products.

The tablets were accompanied by a solar system designed to recharge them, ensuring sustained usage.

Meanwhile, Allan Tugume from UCC disclosed that the beneficiaries have received orientation on how to make effective use of these devices. He described this initiative as a pilot project initiated by the government of Uganda, with plans to expand it nationwide. Tugume emphasized the goal of ensuring that everyone is connected and informed about current affairs.

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Leading Canadian Universities Shine in the 2024 QS World University Rankings

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When international students embark on the journey of selecting their Canadian higher education institution, they often rely on trusted rankings and evaluators to guide them in making the best choice. Among these, QS stands as a renowned name in the realm of post-secondary institution ranking providers, acclaimed worldwide for its expertise in assessing higher education institutions on a global scale. Recently, QS unveiled its 2024 World University Rankings, and the University of Toronto, McGill University, and the University of British Columbia have secured noteworthy positions on this prestigious list. Below, we present a summary of their rankings and performance in various categories.

Rankings Summary:

  1. University of Toronto – A Leap to Excellence In the 2023 QS rankings, the University of Toronto (UofT) claimed the second-highest spot among Canadian universities, standing at 34th globally. However, in the 2024 QS World University Rankings, UofT has made a significant advancement, ascending to the 21st position with an impressive overall score of 86.3. This remarkable achievement is attributed to UofT’s exceptional scores in academic reputation, employer reputation, and international ratios. Notably, UofT’s previous ranking at this level was in 2015 when it secured the 20th spot.
  2. McGill University – Rising Strong In the preceding year, McGill University occupied the 31st position in the QS rankings. Now, in the 2024 QS World University Rankings, McGill has made a notable advancement, securing the 30th position with an overall score of 83.7. Looking ahead, McGill demonstrates remarkable potential as it received high scores, all exceeding 87.5, in academic reputation, employer reputation, and international ratios.
  3. University of British Columbia – A Significant Climb In 2023, the University of British Columbia (UBC) was ranked 47th in the QS World University Rankings. However, UBC has made a remarkable leap in the 2024 rankings, surging 13 positions to the 34th spot. This substantial progress is attributed to UBC’s impressive scores in academic reputation, employer reputation, and its international faculty ratio. In total, UBC secured an overall score of 81.5, marking its highest-ever rank by QS until this year.

About QS World University Rankings: The QS World University Rankings employ a comprehensive five-factor methodology to evaluate the performance of over 1400 post-secondary institutions across the globe each year. These factors, along with their respective weights, are as follows:

  1. Academic Reputation (40%): This score is derived from surveys conducted among educators and researchers in higher education institutions.
  2. Faculty/Student Ratio (20%): QS rewards institutions with low student-to-faculty ratios and small class sizes, emphasizing the importance of a personalized and collaborative learning environment.
  3. Citations per Faculty (20%): This metric is determined by the number of times faculty members’ research papers have been cited by various publications over the last five years, reflecting the institution’s academic influence.
  4. Employer Reputation (10%): Employers worldwide are asked to name universities they believe produce the most employable graduates, with local and international distinctions.
  5. International Faculty/Student Ratio (10%): This factor measures the ratios of international faculty members to domestic faculty members and international students to domestic students, taking into account data verified against government records when available.

For the complete QS 2024 World University Rankings and a detailed breakdown of the scoring system by these factors, please refer to the official QS website. These rankings offer invaluable insights for students seeking the best educational institutions for their academic pursuits.

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First Lady Janet Museveni Urges Education Sector Partnerships for Enhanced Learning Environments

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Uganda’s First Lady and Education Minister, Janet Museveni, has urged for collaborative efforts within the education sector to enhance the learning environment for school children. During the inauguration of new facilities at St Charles Lwanga Namabaale Primary School in Ndagwe Sub-county, Lwengo District, valued at UGX 9 billion on October 19, Minister Museveni, whose message was conveyed by Lands Minister Judith Nabakooba, stressed the importance of such investments in supporting the government’s commitment to providing inclusive education.

She commended the Cotton On Foundation, an Australian non-governmental organization, for its dedication to positively impacting the lives of the younger generation. Mrs. Museveni emphasized that the newly inaugurated facilities would create an enabling atmosphere for teaching and learning, catering to both pre-primary and primary levels.

The recently unveiled facility follows a three-campus model, with the Lower campus for kindergarten, the middle campus accommodating Primary One to Primary Four, and the upper campus serving Primary Five to Primary Seven.

Cotton On Foundation, known for its holistic approach to education, mental health, and environmental impact, empowers youth to thrive.

Minister Museveni acknowledged the government’s support to over 12,000 schools across the country but highlighted the ongoing need for additional facilities to accommodate learners comfortably at all levels.

In her address, she expressed gratitude to Masaka Diocese Bishop Serverus Jjumba for generously providing the land upon which the new school was constructed. She emphasized the value of the partnership between the government and the Catholic Church in advancing education and social services in Uganda, emphasizing that education is a shared responsibility, and the Church plays a vital role in promoting education for the benefit of current and future learners.

The First Lady encouraged parents to support their children’s educational needs to ensure uninterrupted learning and urged that the new facilities be maintained for the benefit of future generations.

Lands Minister Judith Nabakooba, who represented Minister Janet Museveni, joined in congratulating the school on its high-standard new structures, which are a significant addition to the Namabaale community.

Bishop Jjumba expressed his appreciation for the government’s cooperation with the Cotton On Foundation, which expedited the smooth execution of the project in greater Masaka.

The Namabaale village chairperson, Mr. Emmanuel Bwette, noted that the new structures would provide a significant improvement over the previous poor facilities, reducing children’s exposure to diseases associated with excessive dust.

Claire Najjemba, Country Manager of Cotton On Foundation, revealed that they had constructed over ten classroom blocks, installed four large Rhino water tanks of 275,000 liters each to improve access to water services, and built staff quarters for teachers. The facility also includes multipurpose halls, a dining and kitchen area, a playground, and office blocks.

Najjemba emphasized the organization’s commitment to seeing children thrive from kindergarten to university, urging proper use and maintenance of the structures to ensure children receive the quality education they deserve.

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UNEB Confirms Arrest of Chief Invigilator and Headmasters Over Exam Malpractice

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Uganda National Examinations Board (UNEB) has officially confirmed the arrest of a chief invigilator at African Pearl Secondary School in Makindye Division, along with three headmasters, in connection with examination malpractice. Jennifer Kalule, UNEB’s spokesperson, acknowledged these developments and revealed that another group of Uganda Certificate of Education (UCE) candidates is currently under investigation for suspected malpractice.

The arrest of the chief invigilator from African Pearl Secondary School stems from suspicions of external assistance provided to the second shift of chemistry students during their practical Chemistry Paper 3 examination. A handwritten piece of paper containing potential answers to the practical paper was discovered in the examination room supervised by the invigilator.

According to Section 26 of the UNEB Act of 2021, anyone found negligently allowing unauthorized assistance to a candidate while serving as a supervisor, invigilator, scout, monitor, or special needs education support personnel is committing an offense. If convicted, they may face a fine of up to 20 million Shillings, a prison term of up to five years, or both. The Act also stipulates that registered teachers encouraging malpractice may not only face legal consequences but also disciplinary action following the laws governing the teaching profession, including disqualification.

Furthermore, two headteachers were arrested for electronically sharing and receiving materials that appeared to be examination papers. One headteacher was from Paul Mukasa S.S. in Kalagi, Mukono district, and the other from Kanyabwanga Secondary School in Bushenyi district. They will face legal charges for their involvement in aiding and abetting malpractice.

The proliferation of counterfeit UNEB examination materials on social media platforms has led to an increase in malpractice cases. UNEB has been vigilant in identifying and addressing these issues, and the new UNEB Act imposes severe penalties on individuals found in possession of examination materials, whether genuine or counterfeit.

In Kwania District, the head teacher of Inomo SS was arrested on suspicion of tampering with an envelope containing mathematics Paper 1 examination papers. It is suspected that the contents of the envelope may have been compromised during transportation from the storage center to the school.

Police in Kagadi are also investigating two students from St. Michael S., Nyakoma, who swapped index numbers during the Geography exams, claiming to have forgotten their own. This incident raises concerns of impersonation, similar to a case reported in Kawempe last year, where a “machinery” wrote an exam on behalf of a candidate.

The introduction of the new UNEB Act and increased resources demonstrate UNEB’s commitment to addressing the issue of exam malpractice. Stricter penalties and effective enforcement are seen as steps toward eliminating this problem. However, some critics argue that high stakes associated with national exams create pressure on students and encourage malpractice, advocating for alternative assessment methods to alleviate this stress.

The UCE exams continue, with candidates set to take the Biology (Practical) paper in the morning and the Commerce paper in the afternoon on Day 4. A total of 364,421 candidates have been registered for the exams, which will run until November 17, 2023.

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