President Yoweri Museveni ordered the closure of schools as one of the measures to control the spread of coronavirus, which, according to experts, moves faster in large gatherings. At the time of the closure, the learners were just half way into the term which started on February 4, 2020 and was due to end on May 1, 2020.
Schools in parts of Kampala and
Wakiso is devising means to virtually engage children following the premature
closure of educational institutions in the wake of the outbreak of the
President Yoweri Museveni ordered
the closure of schools as one of the measures to control the spread of coronavirus,
which, according to experts, moves faster in large gatherings. At the time of the closure, the learners were
just halfway into the term which started on February 4, 2020, and was due to
end on May 1, 2020.
Many of the schools are now
adopting digital platforms to engage their learners amid the uncertainty
brought about by COVID-19. They are using social media applications, emails and
learning packages to engage the children during this time.
Innocent Mulondo, the head of the
upper section at Taibah Junior School, Kawempe, notes that the school has since
opened an email for each learner where learning materials in forms of notes and
questions are sent on a daily basis. The questions are then answered and sent
back to the teachers, for assessment and guidance.
Mulondo notes that in this system
they trust the parent to be the supervisor and ensure that learning takes
place. He adds that school is also currently recording tutorials in form of
videos and audio which they will send via the same channel.
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Some other schools have decided
to issue reading materials physically and revision tests which are picked by
the parents from the school, and returned after a given period for assessment.
This is the mode which had been preferred
by Kabojja Junior School, according to a circular sent out to parents at the
close of the school on Thursday. However, this was changed following an
incident on Monday in which teachers were arrested after they were found at the
school premises. The teachers had
reportedly gone to the school to prepare the revision tests for the children.
The school has since sent messages
to parents indicating that teaching materials can be obtained from the school’s
Mobile application which can be downloaded from google play store.
In the countryside, most of the
schools purchased a number of take-home material from educational material
service providers which were given to learners at cost. Uganda Radio Network
has learnt that some schools are opting to use social media platforms mostly
WhatsApp as a tool of learning at this moment.
Katende Progressive Vocational
Secondary School in Mpigi district is taking up this model. Although Dr Yusuf
Kyeyune, the school director, couldn’t explain how they intend to use this application,
he observes that all they want is to keep their learners in engaged during this
“The core purpose of this
intuitive is to ensure that learners are kept busy. Using these platforms, we
will make them busy and that is our main objective,” Dr Kyeyune obverses.
Ivan Kizito, a Senior five class
teacher at Kisubi Mapeera Secondary School, notes that they are also using
WhatsApp to share reading materials with the learners. He, however, notes that
the only challenge is that not all students can be online at the same time.
"We thought of using WhatsApp
since most of the students can get access to this application. We send notes
and questions. Student send feedback and when several learners ask a question
from the same area then a teacher records a video offering further explanation.
Despite the challenges, we hope to always improve as we get used to these
system," explains Kizito.
According to the Assistant
Commissioner of Basic Education Dr Tony Mukasa Lusambu, the ministry has
already communicated to all secondary schools which have been running
e-learning to take advantage of this period to ensure that the platform is fully utilized
Dr Lusambu also adds that they
encourage schools to come up with many other effective ways of how they carry
out teaching using modern technology.
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The educationist, however,
worries that accessibility to the internet and the hiked prices of data bundles
might limit the effective use of the said platforms. He further worries about
the in inequities as some schools have countless resources to share with
parents and caregivers yet other schools have very little.
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In the same development, parents seem to be
welcoming the several initiatives put up by schools.
Brenda Namuwonge, the parent with
learners in candidate classes, notes that it would be difficult if there wasn’t
anything to keep learners preoccupied. She, however, notes that some parents might
fail to offer close supervision.
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Information obtained from The
United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO)
indicates as of March 20, over 1.2 billion learners were home as governments
all around the world closed educational institutions in an attempt to contain
the global pandemic. UNESCO observes
that at this moment there should be efforts to provide immediate support
including solutions for inclusive distance learning.