Assessment of factors affecting numeracy and mathematics skills of children in Uganda : Evidences from the Uwezo National Learning Assessment 2015 survey
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This study assessed the factors affecting the numeracy and mathematics skills of children in Uganda. Children aged 6-16 years in Uganda were examined in the study to find out their ability to have numeracy and mathematics skills. Secondary data from the 6th Uwezo National Learning Survey was used in this study to assess the various factors affecting numeracy and mathematics skills of the children in Uganda. The secondary data was analyzed using STATA 15 statistical software package to provide findings. Analysis was done at three levels, that is, descriptive statistics (frequencies) at the univariate level, Pearson’s Chi Square test of independence at the bivariate level and multivariate probit regression was run at the multivariate level. In addition to the probit regression, marginal effects of the probit model were reported to provide a clear picture of the factors affecting the numeracy and mathematics skills of children in Uganda. Majority of the children in Uganda could not attempt the “ethno maths1” question (67.90%, n = 62,583), implying low numeracy and mathematics skills among the children in the country. The preschool and gender of child were not statistically significant in this study. Education level of household head, private tutoring, disability status of child, school type, mother’s education level and child’s age were statistically significant (p < 0.05) at the multivariate level were considered to influence the numeracy and mathematics skills of children in Uganda. From the multivariate probit regression model and marginal effects of the study, it is clearly postulated that mathematics skills of a child decrease more than proportionately when a child has a disability; children from private schools (marginal effect of 4.4%) are most likely to have more numeracy and mathematics skills as compared to their counterparts in community schools. Findings from the study also indicate that access to private tutoring by children increases their chances of possessing numeracy and mathematics skills by marginal effect of 3.9%. Child’s age was found to be significant and impacted the numeracy and mathematics skills of the children with marginal effects of 16.6%, 30.8%, 41.8% and 50.9% in the respective age categories. According to the study, those with the highest ages demonstrated more knowledge in having the skills. Similarly, increase in the mother’s and household heads’ education levels positively impacted mathematics skills of children, that is, children with mothers having high education levels are most likely to possess more skills than their counterparts. However, the Government of Uganda, through the Ministry of Education and Sports should revise its education policies and legalize private tutoring, that is, coaching of children should be promoted in the country because of sufficient evidence of the extraordinary performance of children who receive extra lessons. The government should also improve the quality of services offered at community schools in Uganda, as well as education services provided to children with disabilities. This will not only enhance the levels of numeracy and mathematics of children in the country, but also bridge the gap in the education sector, which will in turn help in achieving the national development plan.