Dr Nakabugo says that even before the COVID-19 crisis, there were signs of an apparent decline in the achievement of learning outcomes among schools. The learners lacked foundation skills and the learning outcomes in literacy and numeracy remained low with little or no signs of improvement.
The ongoing COVID-19 lockdown
which led to the closure of schools may worsen the already waning learning
outcomes in Uganda. This is according to
Dr Mary Goretti Nakabugo, the Country Coordinator of Uwezo Uganda, an initiative
that aims to improve competencies in literacy and numeracy among children aged
6-16 years old.
Dr Nakabugo says that even before
the COVID-19 crisis, there were signs of an apparent decline in the achievement
of learning outcomes among schools. The learners lacked foundation skills and the
learning outcomes in literacy and numeracy remained low with little or no signs
According to UWEZO assessment reports,
the percentage of Primary three to Primary seven children who could read and
comprehend a basic story at the primary two levels dropped from 39 per cent in
2015 to 33 per cent in 2018. Similarly, the percentage of Primary three to
Primary seven children who could do P2 division had dropped from 52 per cent to
45 per cent.
Nakabugo says that given that grim
background, the continuous closure of schools is likely to have long-lasting effects
on the learners. Her comments come as the government announced that schools,
which have been closed since March 20, 2020, will open for candidate
classes only, as Uganda continues to battle a rise in COVID-19 cases.
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Nakabugo, however, applauds the
government education response plan arguing that despite the numerous
challenges involved, it at least offered some form of continued learning which
might help the smaller percentage of learners who had automated the foundation
In the plan, released by the education
Minister Janet Museveni, the government proposed that lessons be delivered
through print and self-study home packages, recorded lessons and live presentations
on radio, televisions, and online uploads to be sent to learners through mobile
But Dr Nakabugo observes that to
learners who lacked basic literacy and numerical skills, chances are very
high that the reading materials could not be of help.
As part of the solution, she
stresses that when the school opens, the curriculum and instruction will need
to be adapted to the learning levels of the children in addition to ensuring
that there is enough remedial to get children to their right levels.
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Her argument is quite close to
the World Bank’s Global Director for Education Jaime Saavedra who in addition
to losses in learning, projects an increase in dropout rates with a call to education
ministries in low developing countries like Uganda where the impact might be
big to have a strong recovery plan.