Uganda: Schools Innovate to Keep Pupils Learning During Lockdown

Following the closure of institutions of learning in March, a number of schools have since innovated ways to keep the pupils learning to avoid risks of poor performance when they finally reopen.

Some private schools have adopted online teaching which is mostly done through applications such as Zoom.

Mr Musa kigongo, an information communication technology specialist at Kampala Parents, yesterday said for one to conduct an online class, they must have a smart phone or computer that has a front camera, with speakers and must be connected to the Internet. One needs a Zoom account as well.

Mr Kigongo explained that they share links to be followed on WhatsApp groups of parents and teachers. "First, we involve three persons; the parent, child and teacher, we have set up our workstations at school. The teacher has to address the learners through the computer set at school so the children access the work through their parents device that are connected on data. So it is affordable as long as you have a laptop or smart phone," Mr Kigongo said yesterday.

Ms Daphine Kato, the principal of Kampala Parents School, said they set up timetables for different classes.

"There are families with two or three children but have one smart phone, so we try to provide time that is convenient for everyone. As we teach we are able to see our pupils and it's the teacher's responsibility to keep the class in order," Ms Kato said.

She added that they are trying to devise means to engage those unable to access devices to use.

Ms Irene Mutuzo, the officer-in-charge of branding and public relations at Greenhill Academy, said they began building innovations to conduct online lessons before the Covid-19 lockdown.

Ms Mutuzo said the communication is channeled through a school application and they use the website portal to send work to the learners.

However, some of the Universal Education Schools are facing challenges since most of their students have no access to Internet connection, electricity and televisions

The National Information Technology Authority (NITAU) revealed that Internet penetration in the country stands at 53 per cent, with about 5.6 million smart phones in the country.

Ms Vivian Ddambya, the director technical services at NITAU, said: "It is difficult to count how many laptops but they are usually fewer. The challenge is that you find people who have two or three, but we trying to increase coverage of the Internet."

Mr Filbert Baguma, the Uganda National Teachers' Union (Unatu) general secretary, said online teaching is practically impossible in Uganda due to lack of infrastructure and Internet connection in some places.

"You see where your network is not clear even in the case of the Zoom you will not get clearly what is being communicated, so it a very big challenge. The advantage of advanced institutions is that their learners are more or less in urban areas," Mr Baguma said.

Mr Baguma appealed to government to include electronic learning in the curriculum but also train teachers on such alternatives.

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