From September 3rd to October 8th 2015, I conducted field research in Uganda, with a purpose of studying teacher absenteeism in public primary schools. While I stayed in Uganda, I was allowed to study at Makerere University. Dr. Wokadala is one of the Ph.D. alumni of Professor Ogawa Seminar and currently works as the Head of Department at Makerere. Through this field research, I achieved the following three goals namely; interviewing teachers and parents at primary schools; exchanging information with officers of Government, NGO, and organization; and conducting a workshop to present the preliminary findings of my research at Makerere University.
Interviewing teachers and parents at primary schools
I visited five public primary schools and two private schools for each in Mukono and Wakiso district, which are next to the capital city, Kampala. Through the visits and interviews with teachers and community members, I found that there was a gap of school facility and learning environment between public and private. While public schools cannot collect school fees, some of the private schools charge high school fees and produce better performance than public. It widens the gap between public schools and private schools. In addition, I found the gap among public schools. Actually some of the public schools receive financial support from parents for buying school equipment such as learning materials, and building new classrooms. It attributes to make difference between schools which produce good results and those which cannot. As a result, the gap among public schools is occurring. My pre-study has also proved that teacher absenteeism is correlated with the existence of extra fee, which is supported by findings in schools.
Exchanging information with officers of the government and NGO
I visited officers of Ministry of Education and UWEZO, which is NGO working in East Africa to assess pupils’ literacy. At Ministry of Education, I shared some findings of my research, and obtained their approval. They also provided some advice for my research. For example, they suggested me to take into account of teachers’ scheme of service and health problems, such as HIV-AIDS. At UWEZO, I was allowed to meet the manager of UWEZO. We had a valuable discussion on the issue of teacher absenteeism, and she mentioned teacher’s absence could be determined by pupil’s absence and vice versa. She also suggested the shortage of parental support in some schools could be one factor for causing teachers’ absenteeism. Since she has led the literacy assessment in all districts since 2010, which is the main mission of UWEZO, she highlighted the importance of community support. However, particularly UPE schools don’t collect school fees, which let parents lose responsibility and contribution on education. This tendency also has been seen in schools.
Conducting a workshop to present my thesis at Makerere University
Dr. James Wokadala provided me an opportunity to conduct a workshop to present my Master’s thesis at Makerere University. After the presentation, I answered some questions from professors and master’s students. I received a lot of useful advice and comments from the discussion, and they will be utilized for improving my thesis. For example, they suggested me to add more perspectives to analyze the issue of teacher absenteeism, such as perspective of gender and age. It was an excellent opportunity for me to present in front of researchers from Uganda and I’m very thankful for Dr. James Wokadala for providing me such a great opportunity.
Throughout the field research, I learned a lot about Ugandan primary education and donors’ projects to utilize the thesis. In conclusion, I would like to show my appreciation toward Dr. James Wokadala who supervised my research at Makerere University, all the stakeholders in schools and organizations who gave me a lot of advice, and to Prof. Keiichi Ogawa who provided me this opportunity and supported me throughout the research.