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Schools in Dramatic Advertising Initiatives to Attract Learners

Audio 6

Private school proprietors and their teachers are coming up with new initiatives to attract learners, amidst a low turn up that followed almost two years of school closures.

This also follows a huge exodus of learners from private to public schools that are believed to be more affordable. Traditional schools like Kitante Primary were forced to stop admitting learners because they had reached their maximum capacity.

Now, proprietors of private schools are employing new skills to reattract learners. From the known traditional means of advertisement through radio, and television, many have gone a step further to use inflatable cartoon characters, employing street preachers to slot in a mention about their schools, or teachers taking advantage of Traffic Jam to persuade parents.

Medard Kamwesigye, the headteacher of Tropical Primary and Nursery School, Najjeera takes advantage of the gridlock at peak hours on Ntinda-Najjera-Kira road every morning and evening to advertise the school to parents. With the help of a megaphone, Kamwesigye stations at the school gate to announce the availability of vacancies, and distribute flyers indicating their ‘friendly’ school fees and terms of payments.

Kamwesigye notes with fewer learners turning up so far, the school realized a need for advertising but the school management does not have funds to run commercial adverts thus turning to this method after realizing that for the minutes of traffic their massage communicates instantly reaches their potential parents than spending money to media companies.

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Others have deployed teams to comb villages, moving door-to-door, talking to parents and guardians about 'a friendly school in the neighbourhood. Those in urban centres are using outdoor commercial inflatable cartoon costumes and paintings as one of the means of attracting children’s attention.

In Makindye division, schools have deployed teams with megaphones stationed in trading centres to make announcements mainly made during the early morning hours before the parents leave their homes to go to work and later in the evening when the storm settles. In a dramatized style citing the need for education, the megaphone operator mentions the name of the schools accompanied by a message encouraging Parents to register their learners.

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Ruth Twesigyeomwe, the Director of Kyambogo children’s Home Nursery and Primary School says they have realized that a cross-section of parents still fears returning their children to school due to lack of money. On the basis of this, she says, they have tailored messages promising different offers to parents.

For instance, at Twesigyeomwe's school, they have promised to waive school requirements for the ‘first 100 students to register. 

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The headteacher of St Henry’s primary school Masaka, says that parents with young children who had not yet decided where to take their children are at times attracted by such a setup. “For a nursery school, the way how the school looks are also an advert enough to attract parents and the learners themselves,” she added.

In Mukono municipality, schools have printed out flyers which are distributed in churches, markets and other busy places. many schools are printing the school’s previous national examination results and best students on school signposts as one of the ways to show their potential parents that they have good ‘standards’ of teaching.

Sakari Giligooli, the Director for Aluto Junior School says they were left with no options apart from community radios, Facebook and sharing recorded adverts on WhatsApp platforms. He notes that mainstream media and drives are expensive to afford currently.

George Masengere, the Director of Happy Hours Junior School says financial challenges brought up by the covid-19 outbreak forced him to shift from big broadcasters to community radios which are cheaper. For instance, in Mukono, several schools are advertising with Dunamis radio whose spectrum covers about three districts of Mukono, Buikwe and parts of Kayunga.

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Although several schools are going for a non-tradition way of advertising, there are a few who are using mass media platforms. Rogers Akatwijuka, Director of Rock High School, and Joab Tumwebarize Muhwezi, Director of Kabale Trinity College in Kabale district say that they are using radio as the main medium of advertising in form of putting announcements and talk shows.

The duo however says however much radio method of advertising is effective, they are challenged by financial constraints due to the long time they had spent without working.

As a result, they have opted to negotiate with local radio proprietors to run their adverts and announcements on credit. They further note that they are supplementing radio announcements with Bulky SMS targeting them to people in a given locality.

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