By Andrew Othieno –
Following the Presidential Directive to address absenteeism in public schools and health facilities, the Prime Minister’s Delivery Unit (PMDU) devised a rigorous system for tracking routine attendance of health workers and teachers to their duties, and appraising progress on agreed-to targets in 21 Focus Districts in Eastern Uganda. During the 4th quarter of the FY ending 30th June, 2019, PMDU conducted spot-checks (unannounced inspection) in selected health facilities and schools. In addition to absenteeism, the spot-checks also assessed availability of enabling infrastructure in health and education institutions, specifically access to water and electricity.
In the April spot-check, the highest performing districts in health were Manafwa (100%), Bududa 97%, and Tororo (95%), and in June; Manafwa (100%), Bugiri (96%), and Tororo (94%). In education, the highest performing districts in April were Bugiri (100%), Pallisa (93%), and Namutumba (92%), and in June; Bugiri (98.2%), Butebo (96.9%), and Mbale (95%).
After the April – June spot-checks PMDU collaborated with district LG leadership to organise “Dissemination Meetings” in July.
The main objectives of these meetings were to present district-specific findings from spot-checks conducted during the quarter, discuss findings and agree on action(s) to be taken by districts to improve attendance, and generate recommendations to key collaborating sectors to improve productivity among the health and education workforce.
In Bugiri, which is the only district that excelled in both education and health, district officials expressed commendable improvement in the recently concluded “Local Government Performance Assessment” (LGPA). They observed a co-relation between PMDU results and the LGPA. They also proposed that a pro-rata payment should be operationalised to curb absenteeism. Nonetheless, they pledged to continue engaging with non-compliant officers.
Bugiri also expressed gratitude for the routine monitoring of schools and health facilities by district officials. They attested to the fact that it has resulted in improved attendance to duty, and the practice should be persistent and encouraged. They also pledged to continue discouraging teachers and health workers from frequently visiting District HQs, and implored OPM to engage organisers of workshops in a bid to curb health workers’ and teachers’ absence from duty stations.