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Senior Four Leaver Turns into Teacher for Entire Village :: Uganda Radionetwork
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Senior Four Leaver Turns into Teacher for Entire Village

Perusi Namugwere, a P 6 pupil at Kikalu primary school narrates that they neither received the educational materials distributed by the Ministry of Education nor have television at home to follow the lessons conducted on TV.
Mbeiza displaying one of the textbooks she uses to teacher children at her village.

Audio 6

It’s almost two years since the government closed schools to contain the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic in the country. Many lower-class learners have not had a chance to attend any lessons since the schools closed in March 2020. 

Millions of learners also missed out on the self-study materials printed by the Ministry of Education and Sports to facilitate learning in homes. However, all is not lost for primary school-going children in Makwi village in Magande Sub-Country in Namutumba District thanks to 18-year-old Catherine Mbeiza, a former student of Giipura SS in Jinja district. Mbeiza, who completed Senior Four, is conducting lessons for the children in her village. 

Perusi Namugwere, a primary six pupil at Kikalu primary school narrates that they neither received the educational materials distributed by the Ministry of Education nor have television at home to follow the lessons conducted on TV. She also says that they couldn’t catch up with the radio lessons since they are broadcast when they are away in the garden.

“We heard that the government prepared some materials for learners during this period. We also heard of some learners studying via television and the internet. I, my siblings, and relatives in my clan had none of those. It was a dead year for us,” Namugwere noted. 

The story of children in Makwi village is not isolated as it has already been established that many learners have been excluded due to the cost of securing the required gadgets, limited coverage of the stations used, and limited access by households.

For instance, available statistics indicate that TV platforms exclude 85 per cent of the households, Radio 56 per cent, while platforms that require electricity and internet exclude 72 per cent and 49 per cent of the households respectively. 

To bridge the gap, Mbeiza, as a child in the highest class than any other person in her home, decided to teach her siblings starting with those who were about to sit their primary leaving examination.

 

“It was never an easy task. At first, they thought I was joking. Only one of them took me seriously for the first months. But when the school closed, and she heard that candidates would return to school to do national examinations she agreed to learn and became more attentive other than anyone else,” Mbeiza notes.   

Although she had the spirit of teaching, Mbeiza admits that she had forgotten some of the concepts in the lower classes more so in mathematics. She also lacked instructional materials like textbooks and teaching guides.  

According to Mbeiza, she thought she could her books but later found out that they had been misplaced but her siblings when she was at school in Jinja.  

//Cue in: “The textbook…  

Cue out…Just near.”//

She says that to ensure that they learn and help their parents with housework and gardening, they developed a timetable for evening studies.  To manage, the entire group of ten children, the student-turned teacher divided the learners into three groups; lower primary (six children), upper primary (3 children), and candidate class.

After some weeks of teaching, Mbeiza received support from her nieces but unfortunately, she was married off shortly.

//Cue in: “I organized that…  

Cue out…and go married.”//

Joshua Isasi, the LC I Chairperson of Makwi Village, says that at first the initiative was purely for the family members but as time went by, children from the neighborhood joined the classes and in no time most children in the village were attending.   

“We felt proud of this young girl. She has been doing a great job. We had just received training from Twaweza Uganda and NGO forum on identifying our village problems and finding solutions but nobody had seen learning during COVID-19 as a priority and a problem facing our community,” said Isasi. 

The chairperson notes having found a solution to the problem of the village, Mbeiza is now a change agent in their community.

//Cue in: “Kiyamba ekitundu…

 

Cue out…nga basoma.”//

Mbeiza says that her enrolment rose from 10 to about 90 learners with most children coming from lower classes (P.1 to P.3). "The work has been huge. On some days we hold three classes with those in lower classes coming to our home every morning for the lesson. But some had not been regular," she added.

The student-turned-teacher is convinced that although she might not have done what teachers could do, she has made an impact and imparted some knowledge to the learners.   

//Cue in: “Am somehow becoming…

Cue out… is also trying.”//

Joy Nakiirya, Mbeiza’s mother, who sings praises for her daughter for the initiative, notes that the idea was brilliant as it has helped to engage school-going children throughout the lockdown. Besides acquiring education, Nakiirya says that the engagement has helped in keeping her young daughters and other girls in the village engaged thus saving them from engaging in bad behavior.  

//Cue in: “kituyambire…

Cue out…ati be.”//

Rose Namuseme, one of Mbeiza learners, notes that these home-based lessons have been so helpful to them at a time when they have no access to school. She notes that when schools reopen they will be far better than their colleagues who have not had such a chance.

//Cue in: “Satumbire…

Cue out…okubaawo.”//

Whereas the government committed to supporting the continuation of learning during the school lockdown through various remote learning options, available statistics from the National Planning Authority indicate that the majority (51 percent) of learners across the entire education system stopped learning with a majority (60 percent) of these being from the primary subsector.