Teaching made relatable

Fellows of the third cohot at Teach for Uganda take a picture together at Mestil Hotel recently. PHOTO/PROMISE TWINAMUKYE.

What you need to know:

  • When it comes to teaching, there are many approaches.
  • With the changing world and demands, there are counter programmes that choose to equip teachers and graduates of education in different ways that make teaching more relatable.

Patrick Mugyenyi, a teacher at Magunga Primary school in Primary two went to the school about two months after getting enrolled on a two-year Teaching and Leadership Fellowship.

As the fellowship demands, Magunga worked as full-time teacher-leaders in Magunga Primary school, one of the high-need and under-served government schools to drastically improve the learning and life outcomes of children in the low-income community.

Staying with his parents in Nakaseke without a job sprung him up to his feet in search of something to help him grow, career-wise.

“I landed the opportunity to be trained as a primary teacher and leader and decided to try this education path. After two years in the fellowship, I got attached to a bigger dream than I always had.

Something about giving chance to people who did not have one, like children in most rural areas,” he says.

That is how a graduate of a Bachelor’s degree in Human Resource Management at Makerere University found himself in Mayuge, teaching Primary two class literacy and numeracy.

Much as he was told about the difference between the life he lived and the life in Mayuge, nothing could have prepared him for what he was about to experience.

“When I went to the community, I was put in a house without power. I knew if it was about charging my phone, I would just do it somewhere else, only to realize the entire community did not have electricity,” he says.

That was when he knew he was in it alone, and except his fellow student, they had been posted together in the same area.

“We would meet every weekend and share challenges and counsel each other,”he said. 
He remembers people wondering what, a whole graduate, had brought him to a village where everyone was fighting to leave. He would however, play with the children. Before he knew it,  he got hooked on the children. They looked up to him so much that even when he tried, he could not quit on them.

“Apart from the skill I gained at Teach for Uganda, I learned resilience, patience, and adaptation and also enjoyed teaching and interacting with my children, not forgetting my acquired new skill of teaching, Mugyenyi says.

Teaching and leadership
Mugyenyi is one of the graduates in the third cohort of the fellowship offered at Teach for Uganda.

Just like him, other scholars, who may or may have not taken up teaching and education in their university level, have gone through teaching during the fellowship with enough skill to help them choose other paths in their career life after the fellowship is done.

At their third-cohort graduation, Sheila Kangwagye, a board member in Teach for Uganda gave an explicit quote that entirely wraps up education and societal development ‘how to destroy a country’.

“Destroying any nation does not require the use of atomic bombs or the use of long range missiles. It only requires lowering the quality of education and allowing cheating in the examinations by the students. Patients die at the hands of such doctors; buildings collapse at the hands of such engineers; money is lost at the hands of such economists and accountants… justice is lost at the hands of such judges… The collapse of education is the collapse of the nation,” Kangwage quotes a writing at the entrance of a South African University.

She adds that this quote reinforced her commitment at Teach for Uganda, intending to be a part of instilling good vices in the mentees and consequently the children they teach.

George Mutekanga, commissioner private schools says he has seen people who think teaching is a bad profession but when they go back and teach these young ones, they get to appreciate their teachers more.

Uganda, having a population of over 70% of the young people below 30 years, Mutekanga says this input will be well needed to first of all help graduates acquire jobs and also become entrepreneurs from the skills and mentorships acquired from the fellowship.

After a successful two-year fellowship, according to James Arinaitwe, Executive Director & Co-founder Teach for Uganda,   the fellows graduate into the alumni program that prepares them for different, but intentional career pathways that include, but are not limited to; serving as teacher leaders, working as policymakers, serving in NGOs, working as social entrepreneurs and some serving as community leaders to continuously advocate for the quality of education in Uganda.

More transformation
Chandia Judith, a Bachelor’s degree holder in Social Work and Social Administration at Kampala International University became a climate change activist once she was posted at Lusenke COU Primary school. She not only taught learners at school craft work that brought in income, but also did field visits to many parents which resulted in increased school enrollment. 

Chandia, in her two years in Lusenke community, lobbied parents and School Management Committee to construct temporary classrooms for Nursery, Primary one and two which saved them the torture of studying under the tree. 

Engaging parents in Planting 400 assorted multipurpose tree seedlings within the community, Chandia plans to continue advocating for climate change and for a curriculum to be developed and taught in schools.    

Ivan Timothy Wandera, a Bachelor’s degree holder in Science in Accounting and Finance, a skill he acquired at Muteesa 1 Royal University, is now an EduBall Field Operations Coordinator volunteer in Mayuge district.

Through football, Ivan reduced the absenteeism and school dropout rates, especially of the girls in Buswikira Primary School, Mayuge district. He also led the girls’ football team to the Eduball Tournament in Mayuge and emerged champions.

With a positive classroom culture, Wandera and his class (P.2 giants) were nominated to feature in the training documentary Teach for Uganda to be used to train future cohorts of fellows.
He intends to complete his Certified Public Accountants (CPA(U)) course and become a Taxation expert. He also aspires to start a Community Based Organisations (CBO) which will equip teenage mothers and out-of-school youth with market-driven and globally informed practical skills and provide adult education. 

Arinaitwe says that as TFU, they leverage the power and knowledge of promising future leaders to ensure that one day, all children in Uganda attain an excellent education, enabling them to thrive in constantly changing economies.

He adds that during the global pandemic, the fellows showed their leadership skills and the importance of taking action during exceptional times. He believes the fellows have made their own spotlight, blazed their own trail, and found their own voice in a year of constant change. 

“The function of education is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically. Intelligence plus character–that is the goal of true education.” He concludes, quoting Martin Luther King Jr.

The cohort-three fellows graduated recently at the Mestil hotel, Kampala.

Teach for Uganda
The Teach For Uganda Fellowship is a two-year teaching as a leadership program that equips fellows with hands-on leadership and pedagogical skills to become effective teachers and lifelong leaders who are deeply rooted in the communities they serve.

Fellows transform their classrooms by setting high expectations for their students and maintaining a culture of high academic achievement to increase learning outcomes thus supporting students to fulfill their potential.