Chalkboards are a health hazard
Posted Friday, February 22 2013 at 10:14
However, as our system continues to meet the demands of globalisation, there is a need to shift the whole system from using black or chalkboards to white-boards that use markers especially at lower levels of learning.
The education system in Uganda has undergone tremendous transformation. The system structure includes seven years of primary education, six years of secondary education (divided into four years of lower secondary and two years of upper secondary school), and three to five years of post-secondary education.
Other pre-primary education levels have been established to prepare a foundation for subsequent education. The present system has existed since the early 1960s. After the liberalisation of the education sector, numerous schools sprung up across the country, lifting the literacy rate to about 66.8 per cent. This has been backed by the continued efforts of the present government to foster free universal education.
However, as our system continues to meet the demands of globalisation, there is a need to shift the whole system from using black or chalkboards to white-boards that use markers especially at lower levels of learning. Institutions may be encouraged to use dry erase boards, power point projections, overheads, and other high-tech gadgets.
Black-boards have been instrumental in Uganda’s education strategies. Almost all schools have benefited from the chalkboard tradition.
However, as a teacher by profession, I have been observant on how the use of chalkboards seems to indirectly affect the health of teachers and students. Chalk is made out of calcium sulphate among other chemicals. Any cooking oil or coconut oil mixed with Kerosene is also added during the manufacturing process plus many other ingredients. However, what is ignored are the side effects of chalk to the health of teachers and students.
It is a fact that whenever teachers attempt to clean the blackboards, chalk particles fall off and are inhaled by students and the teachers respectively. If one teaches for about 30 years, imagine the quantities of this substance they will have inhaled. This may result in a number of health complications.
This is also backed by dirtying of clothes which is inevitable with the usage of chalk, especially for science teachers who use numerous illustrations! Therefore, I recommend that;
•The Ministry of Education and sports encourages schools to stop using chalkboards and opt for other types of boards that make learning ideal and comfortable for all.
•Tertiary Institutions must be encouraged to embrace new technology for teaching and learning.
If Uganda adopts this strategy in her education system, we will be the first country to do so in the great lakes region.
This will make our education system shine even brighter. After all, this method is cost effective.
John Vianney Ahumuza,