According to Ministry of Education and Sports, radio lessons for middle grades of primary schools will resume today.
Our story of June 11 titled, “Uganda resumes radio lessons after schools closed over Covid-19, reveals that according to a statement issued by the ministry, the lessons will be aired for P4 and P5 classes through 15 radio stations, and the date for other grades will be communicated.
While we commend the ministry’s proactiveness and swiftness with which the decision to resume radio lessons was made to ensure continuity in learning, it is important to know if any lessons were learnt from last year’s radio and TV lessons project.
Only then will it work better and more effectively this time, otherwise we will have learnt nothing and forgotten nothing.
Last year, there were reports of non-payment of teachers who were conducting radio lessons. In a Daily Monitor story titled,
“Teachers offering TV, radio lessons not paid for six months” of September 19, 2020, about 20 teachers selected from across the country to conduct lessons on radio and television said they had not been paid facilitation fees since they started the programme.
One of the issues raised in this story was that the agreements were reached verbally, and no paperwork had been signed. This is only one of many challenges this project faced.
Hiccups in radio and TV learning are not only happening in Uganda. Many countries are grappling with the concept.
United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), in an article titled, ‘learning through radio and television in the time of Covid-19’ identifies some major challenges in distance learning.
They include non-availability of educational content in audio-visual formats, difficulties of countries to produce content in quantity and quality in short time, absence of pre-existing partnerships for the design and broadcasting of the educational content, need for communication and collaboration between education specialists and the professionals of the audio-visual sector for the production of educational programmes and lack of the knowhow and expertise in monitoring and evaluation of learning.
For our radio lessons to be a success, the above challenges must be dealt with. Last year, during a virtual workshop, UNESCO and a number of broadcasters agreed on some aspects for successful implementation of radio and TV lessons.
Two of these should be given emphasis by the ministry. They include collaboration between broadcasters, education authorities and educators as a main factor of success in implementing radio and television based educational programmes and using a learner-centred approach to design the programmes by including more interactive components to capture the attention of learners, particularly the youngest ones.