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Teacher Engagement and Retention in Rural Public Secondary Schools in Uganda


Confirmation of Candidature presentation by Gilbert Arinaitwe

Start Date

31st Oct 2017 12:30pm

End Date

31st Oct 2017 1:15pm


Education Video Conference Rooms:

  • Launceston: NH.A221c.Video
  • Hobart: SB.Hytten325.Video
  • Cradle Coast: CC.A119 Video

High turnover of public secondary school teachers in both developing and developed countries leads to loss of professional capital. This is a particular problem in rural locations throughout the world. Over time, this can cause school disruptions, and as a result, some schools are characterised as being "hard-to-staff".  In the United States, teacher turnover is mostly experienced in schools that serve large populations of low performing, non-white and low-income students.  In Australia, teacher turnover is a particular problem in communities with a high population of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students often located within low socio economic status or high-needs areas.  In Uganda, problem spaces for teacher attrition are identified with the language of "hard-to-reach" districts.  Within "hard-to-reach" districts, the problem of high teacher turnover is mostly experienced by rural public secondary schools.

Previous research has sought self-reports of teachers who left, switched, moved or who harbour intentions to quit that potentially biases or misrepresents the true picture of the phenomenon.  However, strengths-based research focused on why teachers remain in the profession is relatively scant. This study responds to the appeal to focus on retention by examining the professional experiences and influences that shape teachers' decisions to remain in the classroom. This study seeks to understand the reasons teachers stay in rural schools and how they engage with school, family and community.  This provides deeper insights into teachers perspectives which will support meaningful decisions and policies.  This work responds to calls for qualitative research to address the problem of teacher retention and attrition which is usually framed in quantitative terms.

I will conduct a qualitative, multiple case study of five “hard-to-reach” rural public secondary schools from three districts in the western region of Uganda.  I will interview forty-five participants (teachers, head teachers, chairpersons of boards of governors, chairpersons of committee of parents-teachers associations and other relevant community leaders).  I will validate the findings from interviews by conducting focus group discussions with additional teachers from the case study schools. NVivo 11 will be utilised while doing the thematic analysis of the data.