The World Bank Mission-Take One

A few weeks ago the World Bank Uganda Office invited me to observe and write about the mid-term review of its education programs in Uganda.
I don’t know about you, but when the World Bank invites me to observe and write about anything, I pick up and start. 
Before I get ahead of myself or you, let me explain what’s going on. The short version of the story is; in 2014, the Government of Uganda through the Ministry of Education and Sports received USD 100M from Global Partnership for Education.
The Purpose of this grant is to implement the project dubbed, “The Uganda Teacher and School Effectiveness Project a.k.a UTSEP specifically targeting primary schools.
The World Bank  is the supervising entity of this grant. They are more like the big sister of the project, making sure everyone not only does their job to deliver but also provide technical support to the Ministry.
The project became effective in March 2015 and is expected to end by June 2018. So right now is its 17th Month birthday.
The purpose of the mid-term review in the words of Elizabeth Ninan, the Senior Education Specialist for the World Bank here in the pearl of Africa, was to; firstly take stock of the components that have gone well, address what hasn’t worked in terms of delay and implementation and figure out how every stakeholder can reorganize themselves better to get the work done”.
That’s really all the technical language I can master to explain this: my point is it’s a big deal. And by big deal I mean, teams flew in from across the world to attend this really draining exercise. But what makes it an even bigger deal, is who the beneficiary of this project is when it all falls in place – the children, teachers, and generally the entire country gets to reap the fruits of quality education.

The project has 3 main components which are:
1. Effective teachers. This is a fancy phrase for repackaging our educators to better deliver and improve the quality of their output. Specific emphasis is placed on Early Grade Reading and Early Childhood Development.
We all know that most of our public schools are highly ineffective especially because our teachers are not top on the list of the competent bunch. (We can talk about the issues our teachers are grappling with all day, but today is not that day)
According to numerous research and studies, 75% teachers in Uganda have been found to be wanting in terms of competence and knowledge of the subjects which they teach.
So this component is among others, about ensuring that our educators are better equipped for the job.

2. Effective Schools. This component involves training and equipping head teachers, deputies and members of school management committees with skills in administration and management under the auspices of Uganda Management Institute. 
I got to hear the testimony of one of the head teachers trained who heads Akamurei Primary School, in Amuria district, and I am telling you, this very enthusiastic lady, Eunice Omunyokol, seemed to have turned over a new leaf at her school.
When the school managers get better at their job, in no time those leadership skills will trickle down to the rest of the staff. She even wrote a poem about it.
Besides that, this component is the part where classrooms are constructed so we can ease the pressure on our mango trees. You could just turn on your TV and see a story of, “Under The Mango Tree Primary School.”

3. Implementation, support and capacity building: This is too technical for my amateur explanations but the most fun part of it is implementation of some ICT-based system that will strengthen capacity for inspection, monitoring and evaluation. 
If you have read my blog for a while you probably have picked up on my interest in our education system and all its disheartening shortcomings. 
Those opinions come from a place of frustration at how underwhelming it is to go through the education system in this country. So it was rivetingly refreshing to spend the week in an environment where I learnt that something is being done about the problem that is our education system.

The review has entailed a field visit to some of the rural schools implementing the project in Mityana District, attending of the Ministry of Education and Sports Annual Sector Review and meetings upon meetings going over the various components of the project all in the period of 9 days (from 1st- 9th September 2016).

My job was pretty easy, it’s the fun part. In two more parts, I will share my take on the project’s mid-term review, as I let you in on the work the World Bank is doing with Uganda’s Ministry of Education and Sports, and more importantly have as much fun while doing it.

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