Radio, TV Lessons Expose Uganda's Bad Teaching Habits

Educationists have warned that the mode of teach being encouraged by the Ministry of Education and Sports during the lockdown does not promote learning and acquisition of life skills but pushes learners to cram.

Radio and television stations are currently conducting lessons in line with a call to ensure that every child can stay safe while still acquiring knowledge in the comfort of their homes.

Schools closed on March 20, 2020, as government took restrictive measures to forestall the spread of coronavirus disease (Covid-19), a measure is estimated to have affected up to 15 million learners across the country.

In the aftermath, the Education Minister, Janet Kataaha Museveni outlined a framework providing for use of both electronic and print media to teach the learners.

While teachers conduct classroom-like lessons on TV and radios, the Ministry also places self-study home packages in newspapers in addition to online uploads which enables electronic delivery of learning materials to learners through mobile phones.

Ministry of Education and Sports’ permanent secretary, Alex Kakooza, communicated that teaching and learning during the lockdown period will focus on competencies including problem-solving, confidence, and imparting life skills.

However, the current lessons aired on radio and television stations do not seem to consider the guidelines.

Many of the teachers are coaching instead of teaching learners and to help them attain the skills they ought to get out of the designed content.

For instance, a female teacher on one of the radio stations who was teaching the skill of writing a friendly letter to a primary seven class reduced the entire lesson to an examination writing orientation.

“If you want to get more marks,” she kept saying while making learners cram several words that they should use which she could as well spell and repeat.

Another teacher openly pointed out a concept that is un-examinable and advised learners not to waste time on it.

The Commissioner for teacher education and instruction, Dr. Jane Egau Okou, made similar observations after listening to a number of lessons and noted that the broadcasts have exposed the different pedagogical challenges among teachers.

Over the years, the Uganda National Examinations Board (UNEB) has blamed the poor performance in national exams to the candidates’ failure to apply knowledge learnt in problem-solving situations or express themselves freely and become more comfortable with questions that are direct and based on recall.

Rev. Fr. Ronald Okello, the secretary for the Education Commission at Uganda Episcopal Conference observes that the Uganda education system stopped imparting skills in learners long ago and the entire focus was directed towards passing exams, a rationale which he says is driving the television and radio lessons.

Issa Matovu, an educationist, says that what is currently happening is a blessing in disguise for the stakeholders in the education system to see, judge and improve the teaching mode, and subsequently the outcome.

“All along these vices have been hidden in classrooms. And whenever we could comment on them, we appeared like fighting certain schools or the ministry. Now that the entire public is listening, we should all have our say,” Matovu said.

Education consultant Fagil Mandy notes that although some challenges might come with teaching on the radio which includes feedback and involvement of the learner, there are basics that should not be compromised. He, however, adds that the teachers might be distracted by the new setting and operating environment.

Meanwhile, Dr. Egau notes that the Ministry is currently developing a mechanism to ensure that teachers going on air are well prepared and also deliver the right content using the right methods.

To this end, Egau said, the Ministry has appointed an officer to prepare the teachers particularly for lessons aired on UBC radio and UBC TV.

Similarly, the Ministry also held a zoom technology-supported meeting with centre coordinating tutors in different areas to ensure that teachers are well prepared on top of supervising the content aired and the different approaches being used.

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