Curriculum experts have said teachers are not using the right methodology as they revise topics on television with students currently at home during the lockdown.
National Curriculum Development Centre (NCDC) officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the teachers on television fall short of their expectations having trained them on how to conduct the lessons.
For example, the curriculum experts said teachers should take the lessons out of the studios and demonstrate the contents they are teaching in real life for easy understanding.
The source wondered how topics such as zero grazing and biogas production can be taught in the studio.
At the start of the lockdown over coronavirus, NCDC designed revision materials, which were distributed across the country for learners in primary and secondary schools.
Then government designed content to be broadcast on TV and radio while the other content was printed for learners who can’t access the two mode of delivery.
“TV would have been good for teaching for those who can access it. The problem is the method of presentation. It is wrong. I am a science teacher. I am not going to teach biogas production from the studio. The idea was that give me a camera person and we go to where there is a biogas plant and teach the topic on biogas from there, or zero grazing. I don’t teach this using a chart in a studio. Give me a camera person and I go to a farm where there is zero grazing unit. We have tried to guide them but they are not listening. We cannot do much,” the source said.
But Mr Filbert Baguma, the general secretary of the Uganda National Teachers Union (Unatu), yesterday blamed the inefficiencies on lack of a clear criteria for choosing the teachers.
He acknowledged that some teachers are sharing wrong facts on TVs and there has not been an avenue to correct them.
“We should be having best teachers doing the lessons. If you start misrepresenting the facts when you are on TV, then it is unfortunate,” Mr Baguma said.
“The way they are conducting lessons is dependent on the person managing the programme. Sometimes they will call you and say they have designed a place where they will do recording from. When you say we have a practical lesson, they will tell you how the resources they have can’t allow. We can’t blame it entirely on a teacher but all those who are conducting the entire process,” he added.
Another expert challenged specialists at NCDC to get out of their comfort zone and walk into the studios and demonstrate how some of these practical lessons should be taught using the revised lower secondary curriculum.
Mr Alex Kakooza, Ministry of Education permanent secretary, said in an interview that they will work within the resources they have to facilitate home schooling during the one month lockdown extension which President Museveni announced at beginning of the month.
What expert says
Mr Fagil Monday, an educationist, last month said schools that are currently using the online platform can go ahead but warned that it is not a standard solution to the disruption because not all children across the country can access those materials.
S.4 candidate finds solace in radio classes
When schools were closed due the Covid-19 pandemic in March, Samuel Kirumira, a Senior Four student at Kyotera Central Secondary School, feared that his academic dream was over.
However, when the government initiated the idea of teaching students via radio and television, Kirumira found a blessing in radio as his parents could not raise money to purchase a Television set.
Kirumira can access lessons being taught by switching on a radio on a mobile phone that was offered to him by his mother.
“My mother offered me this phone after she learnt that we were to get lessons on radio yet we don’t have a television at home. She advised me to attend the lessons so that when final exams come I can sit and pass my exams,” he explains.
As I watched Kirumira follow his Biology lesson, he seems puzzled after failing to understand the topic of chromosomes. He said he does not understand what was being taught because at their school, the topic had not been tackled yet.
When the teacher on radio reaches the diagram part, he advises students go to the Facebook account and also send him WhatsApp to watch the diagrams, which puzzle Kirumira more.
After the lesson, Kirumira says he is to meet a friend who studies from a neighbouring school, Kiteredde SS, for assistance.
“Jjingo has a smart phone which his parents gave him and I usually get time and meet him to show me the diagrams which I could have missed. However, he does not have data all the time to access these diagrams,” he explains.
Asked to compare the lesson on radio and the ones at school, Kirumira says there is a big difference because the teacher at school makes actions, which help them grasp easily.
He says Uganda National Examinations Board should not go by the lessons taught on radio and TV when setting national exams.
“We need to write our exams at least in January or February next year that is if we manage to start in July. This will give our teachers at least some time to complete the syllabus as we also make thorough revision,” Kirumira says.
Mr Noah Ssenjingo, the father of Kirumira, says he cannot give his son enough time to attend to radio classes because he has doubts about their impact. Mr Ssejjingo says he also tries to buy newspapers with questions of different subjects for his son to revise.
S.6 candidate’s experience with radio lessons
At 8:30am, Ivan Hyuha, 19, a Senior Six student at Mbale Progressive Secondary School, is ready for a lesson to be aired on one of the local radio stations in Mbale District.
Hyuha, who offers Biology, Chemistry, Mathematics/ICT, uses a telephone, which has a radio component, to study.
After one hour of the lesson, he reveals the challenges of learning from radio or television.
“When you’re on the radio, time is insufficient. A teacher comes in a hurry with a topic and wants to finish within one hour. Most of the teachers are just rushing through the topic, which leaves out slow learners,” Hyuha says.
He reveals that teachers on radio or TV do not entertain phone calls. “They want you to send a WhatsApp message, which is very difficult to us who don’t have smartphones,” he says.
He adds that it is very difficult to take notes because teachers usually make an outline of the main ideas.
“Some subjects are not catered for while other subjects are not given enough time. The biggest problem is that you may have a question but it will be hard to forward that question to that teacher because it needs a smartphone and yet the majority of children don’t have smartphones,” he says.
Hyuha is also concerned about regular availability of TV or radio or even the mobile phone given that there is not electricity, especially in the villages.
“Most times electricity goes and comes back after five hours when the lessons are over,” he says.
He appeals to the government to change the way the programme is conducted.