When the coronavirus pandemic hit Uganda in late March, all education institutions were closed as a way of preventing the spread of the virus. This meant disruption of the school term for all learners.
From homeschooling, radio and TV lessons to distribution of learning materials, government and other stakeholders are making do with available resources to ensure continuity of learning. But what happens to communities where the distributed materials are not enough?
Because the government could only supply self-learning materials to only one school in Adjumani,some learners have had to improvise or risk being left behind.
Jesuit Refugees Services (JRS), a global catholic organisation that helps refugees, internally displaced people and vulnerable host community members in Uganda circulated more printouts to cover all the 21 schools in the district, enabling more learners to get copies.
According to Godfrey Bangi the head master Adjumani S.S, and also the chairperson West Nile headteachers association, these learning materials were complemented by the radio lessons broadcast at different times of the day.
Through phone calls, learners ask questions about the issues they did not understand and teachers try to explore the topic thoroughly to benefit even those who could not call.
Bangi says expert teachers were involved to study the syllabus for the first-term from which they adapted the material.
“Since the schools are not yet open and we are into the second term, we are waiting for the government for second-term learning materials so that we keep pace with the school curriculum,” Bangi says.
Hiccups in radio lessons project
A number of learners especially those upcountry leave farm fields late and end up missing the radio lessons, others do not even have radios at all. Some cannot understand the languages used.
“We have three radio stations in Adjumani but none was selected for the radio programmes. The selected radios in nearby communities have weak frequencies that can barely cover most parts of Adjumani and the ones that reach us, broadcast in languages we cannot comprehend,” Bangi complains.
Even if learning can not be expected to go on smoothly as it was when schools were operational, hopefully these challenges can be overcome and so that progress in this area can be made.