Earlier on, educationists and principals had suggested that the institutions conduct mock school practice or peer training so that the student teachers could qualify together with their counterparts in other programmes upon completion of final examinations. This meant that the trainees would be assessed by their tutors.
The fate of final year student
teachers' remains uncertain because of the inability to complete their study
programme amidst the closure of schools. Student teachers have been waiting to
carry out a mandatory school practice before they can be passed out, to join
the world of work.
According to the Ministry of Education calendar for candidates and final year students-2020, trainees at
National Teachers’ Colleges and Primary Teachers’ Colleges were expected to
conduct their school practice from January to March 2021.
However, the school practice
which is intended to expose trainees to a real classroom environment could not
be conducted. Schools and other tertiary institutions have remained closed for
almost a year, following a government decision to reduce places with large
gatherings, as a measure to forestall the spread of COVID-19.
Earlier on, educationists and
principals had suggested that the institutions conduct mock school practice or
peer training so that the student teachers could qualify together with their
counterparts in other programmes upon completion of final examinations. This meant that the trainees would be
assessed by their tutors.
However, the Ministry of
Education objected to this and maintained that school practice can only be carried
out in a real school setting to give trainees a better picture of not only the
teaching-learning process and pedagogy but also, the entire school environment.
In September schools were partially
opened to facilitate learning for only candidate classes. The government has
since announced that effective March 1, school’s gates will be opened for
another set of learners, including those in Primary Six, Senior three and Senior
Herbert Ssemuwemba, the Principal
of Canon Apollo Core PTC, Fort Portal, who also doubles as the vice-chairperson
of PTC principals, notes that with the expected school reopening for
non-candidates, they hoped that they were close to cross the bridge. However,
Ssemuwemba is concerned that the student teachers may still not be able to go through
the school practice.
“They have allowed
semi-candidates to return at the moment. That group is not enough for the
trainee to have a school experience,” Ssemuwemba says. Meantime, Hajjat
Aidah Nambuusi, the Principal of Kibuli Core PTC, notes that they are also concerned
about delays in opening for lower primary classes.
“In the primary, for instance,
trainees specialize either to teach upper or lower classes. However, pupils in
lower primary might delay returning to school. This makes everything
complicated and school practice being an examination, it cannot be for the
selected few,” Hajjat Nambuusi said. She adds that the delays might cause
congestion in the system given the fact that they are going to reopen for
non-candidate and soon fresh trainee will be coming in.
Dr Jane Egua-Okou, the Director for
Higher Technical Vocational Education and Training in the Ministry of Education
and Sports, says that all the worries on the fate of teacher trainees are going
to be resolved. Although she did not give specific timelines, Dr Egua notes
that the ministry intends to hold meetings to discuss how best the matter can
//Cue in; “We shall plan...
Cue out...as usual.”//
Dr Egua says that the PTCs and
NTCs can ably host both finalists and non-finalists given the fact that when
the second batch of students comes, the finalists who are already there will be
going for their final school practice creating room for more students.