20 June 2018

Uganda: Somali Refugees Outdo Ugandans in Class - Report

Kampala — A new report shows that six in every 10 Somali refugee children living in Uganda are able to read and count better than their host counterparts in schools within and outside the refugee camps.

Only two in every 10 Ugandan pupils able to respond to the same questions at the same primary school level.

The findings, released in Kampala yesterday, considered four refugee camps in Arua, Adjumani, Isingiro (Nakivale), and Yumbe, which had the highest populations by the end of last year.

Overall, the learning outcomes within and outside the camps remain low with more than 90 per cent of the assessed children unable to read, comprehend and divide Primary Two level questions.

The study, carried out in October last year by Uwezo among 5,000 pupils, depicts that teachers struggle to conduct lessons in overcrowded classrooms.

But the researchers at Uwezo are still puzzled that the performance exhibited by Ugandans is still lacking even when the teacher-pupil ratio is relatively low.

"The learning outcomes are pretty low overall. Almost 90 per cent of the interviewed children have not acquired literacy and numeracy competences. But the refugees perform better than the host,"Dr Goretti Nakabugo, the Uwezo country director, said yesterday.

Dr Nakabugo said they were not able to establish why Somali children in Primary Three to Primary Seven were more competent in reading and counting than their counterparts from South Sudan (20 per cent), Uganda (26.8 per cent), Rwanda (20.3 per cent), Burundi (18.7 per cent) and Congo (13.5 per cent). All the pupils were subjected to Primary Two level questions in English language.

Dr Daniel Nkaada, the commissioner for primary education, said although he had not looked at the report, the government had introduced early grade reading where teachers are retooled on how to train their learners and improve their reading skills. He said the ministry is also providing reading materials in local languages to support the teachers.

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