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Learning barriers among Grade 6 pupils attending rural schools in Uganda: implications to policy and practice

Abstract

The paper uses multilevel analysis procedures to examine individual- and group-level learning barriers that have the greatest impact on pupil achievement in Uganda. The data for this study were collected in 2014 among 2711 Grade 6 pupils attending 82 schools in two rural districts of Iganga and Mayuge in Uganda. Data used in this paper are part of a larger study which sought to examine the schooling patterns, as well as the quality of education received by children living in rural settlements in Uganda. Among the learning barriers with the greatest impact on pupil achievement at the individual-level were lack of parental involvement, lack of pre-primary school attendance, grade repetition, and lack of basic learning resources such as writing materials. At the school-level, the barriers with the most impact on pupil achievement were lack of teacher lesson preparedness, lack of teacher-classroom support by subject advisors, distance between school and teachers’ place of residence, lack of basic classroom resources, and whether or not the teacher kept pupil learning progress records. Implications of the findings for policy and practice are outlined.

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Acknowledgments

We acknowledge the important contribution of African Population and Health Research Center (APHRC) staff who participated at various stages of the development of this paper including data collection and processing, as well as giving valuable comments during the internal review process. Funding for this study was provided by The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, Grant No. 2011-6393.

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Correspondence to Njora Hungi.

Appendix 1: Variables names, values, and codes

Appendix 1: Variables names, values, and codes

Variable
Level-1 (Pupils or individual-level)
   Pupil individual characteristics
      Pupil sex
         (0 \(=\) Boy; 1 \(=\) Girl)
      Pupil age
         (Mean \(=\) 13.53 years; SD \(=\) 1.62)
      Grade repetition since joining Grade 1
         (0 \(=\) Never; 1 \(=\) Once; 2 \(=\) Twice; 3 \(=\) Three times or more)
      Days absent during last school week
         (0 \(=\) Not absent; 1 \(=\)  Absent for one day; ...; 5 \(=\) Absent for five days)
      Pupil pre-primary school attendance
         (0 \(=\) No pre-primary school; 1 \(=\) A few months to 1 year; 2 years or more)
      School transfer since joining Grade 1
         (0 \(=\) Never; 1 \(=\) Changed school at least once)
      Extra tuition outside school hours
         (0 \(=\) No extra tuition; 1 \(=\) Takes extra tuition)
      Reading at home
         (0 \(=\) Never; 1 \(=\) Once a week; 2 \(=\) Twice a week; 3 \(=\) More than twice a week)
Variable
      Pupil has hearing problem
         (0 \(=\) No; 1 \(=\) Yes)
      Pupil has vision problem
         (0 \(=\) No; 1 \(=\) Yes)
   Home environment
      Home possessions (Pupil SES)
         i.e. Sum of the existences of the following items at home:
         Electricity, TV, Video player (VCR/DVD),
         Telephone (landline/mobile), Refrigerator,
         Piped water, Table to write on;
         Cement, carpet or tiles house floor,
         Concrete, cut stones or burned bricks house wall, and
         Metal sheets, concrete or tiles house roof
         (Low values \(=\) Poor homes; Large values \(=\) Wealthy homes)
      Number of siblings
         (Mean \(=\) 5.51 siblings; SD \(=\) 2.41)
      Speaking English at home
         (0 \(=\) Never; 1 \(=\) Sometimes; 2 \(=\) All the times)
      Meals taken per week
         (Mean \(=\) 16.84 meals; SD \(=\) 4.94)
      Biological mother alive
         (0 \(=\) No; 1 \(=\) Mother alive)
      Biological father alive
         (0 \(=\) No; 1 \(=\) Father alive)
      Biological parents alive
         (0 \(=\) No parent alive; 1 \(=\) One parent alive; 2 \(=\) Both parents alive)
      Mother (female guardian) highest level of education
         (0 \(=\) No educ.; 1 \(=\) Some primary; 2 \(=\) Completed primary educ.;
         3 \(=\) Some secondary educ.; 4 \(=\) Completed secondary educ.;
         5 \(=\) Completed some training after secondary sch.; 6 \(=\) Completed university)
      Father (male guardian) highest level of education
         (0 \(=\) No educ.; 1 \(=\) Some primary; 2 \(=\) Completed primary educ.;
         3 \(=\) Some secondary educ.; 4 \(=\) Completed secondary educ.;
         5 \(=\) Completed some training after secondary sch.; 6 \(=\) Completed university)
      Books at home
         (0 \(=\) No books; 1 \(=\) 1–10 books; 2 \(=\) 11–50 books; 3 \(=\) 51–100 books; 4 \(=\) 101–200; 5 \(=\) 201 or more books)
      Pupil travel distance to school
         (Mean \(=\) 1.93; SD \(=\) 4.27)
      Source of lighting at home
         (0 \(=\) No lighting/fire; 1 \(=\) Candle; 2 \(=\) Paraffin or oil lamp; 3 \(=\) Gas lamp; 4 \(=\) Electricity)
      Staying with parents or in boarding school
         (0 \(=\) No; 1 \(=\) Yes)
      Being asked about school performance at home
         (0 \(=\) Never/rarely; 1 \(=\) Often/sometimes)
      Homework help at home from anybody
         (0 \(=\) Never/rarely; 1 \(=\) Often/sometimes)
   Teacher characteristics
      Teacher sex
         (0 \(=\) Male; 1 \(=\) Female)
      Teacher education level
         (0 \(=\) Primary; 1 \(=\) Junior sec. 2 \(=\) ‘O’ or ‘A’ level; 3 \(=\)  \(1^{\mathrm{st}}\) degree or higher)
      Teacher pre-service training
         (0 \(=\) No training; 1 \(=\) GIII certificate; 2 \(=\) Diploma; 3 \(=\) B.Ed. or PGDE)
Variable
      Teacher perception on how adequately prepared
         (0 \(=\) Very inadequately/inadequately; 1 \(=\) Somehow adequately; 2 \(=\) Adequately/very adequately)
      Teacher number of in-service courses in the last 18 months
         (0 \(=\) No in-service; 1 \(=\) Once; 2 \(=\) Twice; 3 \(=\) Thrice; 4 \(=\) Fours times or more)
      Teacher total years as a teacher
         (0 \(=\) less than 1 year; 1 \(=\) year; 2 \(=\) 2 years; ...; 6 \(=\) 6 years or more)
      Teacher total years teaching this subject
         (0 \(=\) 1 year or less; 2 \(=\) years; 3 \(=\) 3 years or more)
      Teacher observed teaching by head teacher (HT) or deputy HT
         (0 \(=\) Rarely/never; 1 \(=\) Often/sometimes)
      Subject advisor visits to classroom in last 18 months
         (0 \(=\) None; 1 \(=\) One time; 2 \(=\) Two times; 3 \(=\) 3 times or more)
      Teacher number of periods per week
         (Mean \(=\) 21.37; SD \(=\) 11.31)
      Teacher days absent during last school week
         (0 \(=\) Not absent; 1 \(=\)  Absent for one day; ...; 5 \(=\) Absent for five days)
      Teacher travel distance to school
         (Mean \(=\) 4.83 KM; SD \(=\) 5.56)
      Teacher original home district
         (0 \(=\) Other district; 1 \(=\) Local district, i.e. where school is located)
      Families of pupils known by teacher
         (0 \(=\) None; 1 \(=\) Most; 2 \(=\) All)
      Teacher meeting with parents to discuss pupils’ progress
         (0 \(=\) No meetings; 1 \(=\) Once per term or year; 2 \(=\) Once per month)
      Teacher visited education resource centre last year (2013)
         (0 \(=\) No; 1 \(=\) Yes)
      Teacher frequency of giving written tests
         (0 \(=\) No tests; 1 \(=\) Once a term or less; 2 \(=\) Once per month 3 \(=\) More than once a month)
      Teacher source of lighting at home
         (0 \(=\) No lighting/fire; 1 \(=\) Candle; 2 \(=\) Paraffin or oil lamp; 3 \(=\) Gas lamp; 4 \(=\) Electricity)
      Teacher number of books at home
         (Mean \(=\) 7.77; SD \(=\) 14.84)
      Teacher has scheme of work
         (0 \(=\) No; 1 \(=\) Yes)
      Teacher has a lesson plan
         (0 \(=\) No; 1 \(=\) Yes)
      Teacher has pupil progress records
         (0 \(=\) No; 1 \(=\) Yes)
      Teacher mathematics score
         (Mean \(=\) 45.56%; SD \(=\) 13.87)
   Classroom environment
      Number of pupils in the class (Class size)
         (Mean \(=\) 62.03; SD \(=\) 27.64)
      Classroom resources
         i.e. Sum of the existences of the following items in the classroom:
         useable Writing boards, Chalk or other markers,
         Wall charts, Cupboards or lockers, Bookshelves,
         Classroom library or book box, Teacher table, and Teacher chair
         (Mean \(=\) 4.23; SD \(=\) 1.65)
      Teacher frequency of dealing with pupil discipline problems
         (0 \(=\) At least once a day; 1 \(=\) Once to several times a week; 2 \(=\) Less than once a month; 3 \(=\) Never)
      Teacher has to deal with lack of parental involvement frequently
         (0 \(=\) No; 1 \(=\) Yes)
Variable
      School report has specific section for English/mathematics comments
         (0 \(=\) No; 1 \(=\) Yes)
      Teacher frequency of using mother tongue to explain lessons
         (0 \(=\) Never/rarely; 1 \(=\) Sometimes/all the times)
      Homework given and corrected
         (0 \(=\) No homework or homework given but rarely/never corrected;
         1 \(=\) Homework given and sometimes or most of the times corrected;
         2 \(=\) Homework given and always corrected)
      Pupil learning materials
         i.e. Sum of the possession of at least one of each of the following six items by the pupil:
         Pencil, Pen, Ruler, Eraser, Exercise book and Folder
         (Mean \(=\) 4.12; SD \(=\) 1.57)
         Use of textbooks in classroom
         (0 \(=\) Pupil has no textbook or shares with two or more pupils
         1 \(=\) Pupil has own textbook or shares with one pupil)
   School environment
      Mayuge
         (0 \(=\) School in Iganga district; 1 \(=\) School in Mayuge district
      School library
         (0 \(=\) No library; 1 \(=\) Library)
      Pupils can borrow books from school
         (0 \(=\) No; 1 \(=\) Yes)
      School has books for use by pupils
         (0 \(=\) No; 1 \(=\) Yes)
      School poverty level (Percentage of pupils ranked in poorest 40%)
         (Mean \(=\) 39.88%; SD \(=\) 24.99)
      School type
         (0 \(=\) Public school; 1 \(=\) Private school)
      School location
         (0 \(=\) Urban/peri-urban school; 1 \(=\) Rural school)
      Pupil-teacher ratio
         (Mean \(=\) 38.03; SD \(=\) 14.87)
      Pupil-toilet ratio
         (Mean \(=\) 86.64; SD \(=\) 49.61)
      School size (total school enrolment)
         (Mean \(=\) 633.88; SD \(=\) 284.13)
      School use of mother tongues in Grade 1–3
         (0 \(=\) Never/rarely; 1 \(=\) Sometimes/all the times)
      School use of mother tongues in Grade 6
         (0 \(=\) Never/rarely; 1 \(=\) Sometimes/all the times)
      School has adequate drinking water
         (0 \(=\) No; 1 \(=\) Yes)
      School has electricity
         (0 \(=\) No; 1 \(=\) Yes)
Variable
      School inspector visits in the last 12 months
         (Mean \(=\); SD \(=\))
      School feeding program (SFP)
         (0 \(=\) No SFP; 1 \(=\) SFP)
      Mean home possession
      Mean pupil age
      Mean grade repetition
      Mean pupil days absent
      Mean school transfer
      Mean pre-primary school attendance
      Mean speaking English at home
      Mean mother level of education
      Mean father level of education
      Mean father alive
      Mean mother alive
      Mean parents alive
      Mean pupil travel distance to school
      Mean meals per week
      Mean learning materials

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Hungi, N., Ngware, M., Mahuro, G. et al. Learning barriers among Grade 6 pupils attending rural schools in Uganda: implications to policy and practice. Educ Res Policy Prac 16, 129–155 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10671-016-9199-2

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Keywords

  • Uganda education
  • Learning achievement
  • Learning barriers
  • Quality of education
  • Primary education