By Obilan Abubakar
Management of an academic institution is different from that of an enterprise or a political organization due to its goals. But like any other organization, schools and universities need systems and adherence, for efficient administration. Education in Uganda has expanded in response to the ever burgeoning population of school age goers; hosting approximately 73,200 academic institutions, 15.1 million learners and 548,000 educators. Unfortunately, the education services have not significantly grown in terms of desirable learning outcomes; critical thinking, creativity, problem solving, decision making, leadership skills and ethics among others.
The overwhelming studentship has imposed inexplicable administrative pressure on school/university managers demanding for sophisticated knowledge in management and leadership, flexibility, listening skills, tolerance and accommodation of dissent for efficient management of new sets of generational learners and staff.
It only takes a genius and lucky administrator to effectively manage institutional resources; human, material, finances, legal and technological without systematic managerial training.
In Uganda, academic institution accounting officers are appointed entirely based on their qualification in the academic regalia and experience. To be appointed a vice chancellor, one needs to be at least a PhD holder in any academic bias which is nebulous. For secondary school headship, one has to be a master degree holder in education with teaching and administrative experience before being shortlisted for interviews and subsequent posting.
Unfortunately, the experience required for academic headship positions across levels of education do not have specific measurable apparatus to guarantee high quality productivity worth promotion; hence ominously insufficient. Although mastering in education management is imperative, it may not sufficiently acquaint a school head with necessary practical leadership skills due to curriculum issues.
Consequently, academic institutions grapple in trial and error syndrome employing individual opinions, guess work and emotions to make institutional decisions. It has indeed exacerbated and sustained obsolete management systems; extractive institutional politics, administrative indiscipline and consequently loss of revenue in litigation matters. Private and public schools/universities annually lose over ten billion shillings to court orders of mandamus, arbitration, misappropriation, wasteful expenditure or underutilization of resources yet many aggrieved parties choose not to sue. This has outrageously depleted the value for money in the sector; making the cost of teaching services unreasonably too high; dangling at 4.5 times higher than 1.7 and 1.9 in Senegal and Cote d’Ivoire respectively; shackling the growth of education standing at 7.1%.
The hobbling managerial exhibition by academic administrators across levels has adversely impacted on their staff and students with their non-exemplary behaviour; deplorably murdering the competitiveness of Uganda’s economy, giving it a global ranking of 115th out of 141 with 48.9 scores behind Kenya and Rwanda at 95th and 100th positions respectively; placing the Uganda’s employees’ productivity rate below average; 38% – a glaring indicator of low learning outcomes.
With specific emphasis therefore, Ministry of education and sports should, on top of organizing periodical non-formal trainings, develop a customized one year certificate of professional school/institution management programme; designed for Primary, Secondary and University managers. Contractual employment system should be adopted for teachers and their administrators as a catalyst to stimulate high quality productivity levels. An automated evaluation system for Teachers should be established for tracking their cumulative performance and to provide feedback to teachers’ emails periodically – This will facilitate automatic promotion of teachers to ranks of headship and send warning notes to non-performers and sack the adamant ones. Regular monitoring and adoption of inclusively comprehensive audit systems involving students, staff and Governing bodies with enriched assessment guide, to include administrative practices of managers should be promulgated. A National teachers’ council should be established and a teacher tribunal constituted to help in resolving educators’ concerns.
National Council for Higher Education (NCHE) should establish electronic evaluation system for receiving feedback from students and academic staff on services offered by respective institutions to ameliorate institutional leadership accountability. Litigation costs accrued from administrative negligence should be paid by responsible individual administrators not institutions to jumpstart leaders’ administrative prudence. Qualification for the accounting offices in Higher Learning Institutions should be reserved for education management and perhaps public administration dons for efficient management of Universities.
Formal leadership training for administrators in schools and Universities is not only desirable but urgently necessary in the pursuit of prosperity and attainment of Uganda’s vision 2040. It has also come a time, for us to accept that, illiteracy today, is not inability to read, write and eloquently speak the medium of instruction but the cognitive inability to meaningfully put knowledge into appropriate use.
‘Because we are, the nation is’
Author: Obilan Abubakar
The Writer is a PhD in education fellow in IUIU