25 March 2019

Uganda: Online Mentoring Eases Teaching in Schools

A total of 120 teachers from schools in Moyo and Adjumani districts have benefitted from a mentoring and online knowledge transfer, with support from the Finn Church Aid (FCA).

Under the programme, the teachers go through teacher training provided by FCA in Uganda. They learn things such as pedagogy, acknowledging pupils' special needs, and developing a curriculum. The learning is supported by Whatsapp groups, with a Finnish mentor giving advice to a set number of Ugandan teachers.

The Finnish teachers, who pattern with their Ugandan counterparts, engage in continuous dialogue aimed at addressing the gaps in delivering content to the students.

Ms Roosa Laine, the volunteer with the FCA-coordinated Teachers Without Borders network in Adjumani, said the programme has registered success.

She said the programme has instilled some level of confidence in the Ugandan teachers and they believe in achieving success through the mentoring process.

"The programme has clearly increased these teachers' pride in their profession," Ms Roosa Laine said.

In Pagirinya Comprehensive Secondary School in Adjumani, many of the teachers are reporting success.

Ms Maurine Anguezaru a teacher, had difficulties in managing a huge population of refugee students, who had fled from South Sudan conflict in 2016.

She said Finn Church Aid gave them smartphones directly connected to Finland which made things easier for her and her colleagues.

Ms Anguezaru says when the refugees first arrived, they were timid and afraid to express themselves, but now the situation has changed because the teachers are able to help them.

She said advice came from her new smartphone, providing her with support in teaching-related challenges from a Finnish teacher.

Ms Anguezaru said she has learned a lot from the advice and links shared by her mentor.

"Mentoring has made me more confident and better at spotting symptoms of trauma. I'm learning new ways to react to constant tardiness, rowdy behaviour or withdrawing," she said

She said in between classes during break time, they exchange Whatsapp messages in the groups that have been created and seek the best methods of delivering lessons to the students.

According to her, teachers even record their classes to be assessed by others. For example, she has exchanged messages with Auli from Finland about the challenges she faced during geometry classes.

"I can say 'hey, I'm having trouble with how to teach this topic.' At the end of the school day, I can tell Auli how her advice worked," Ms Anguezaru said.

She said the mentoring has clearly improved pupils' performance at Pagirinya and feels motivated by the change in the school's atmosphere.

"The pupils have become very friendly, and I treat them like my friends," she said.

She hopes the programme can be rolled out to many more districts so that all the teachers can benefit.

Uganda

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