On March 20th, the government of Uganda ordered the closure of schools in quick succession to contain the spread of the Coronavirus
Due to this grand scale of education disruption and the uncertainty of schools re-opening, this has led to an education crisis in most rural and indigenous communities of Uganda.
Since March 20th, over 15 million learners were shut out of classrooms and confined in their homes without access to instruction and uncertain of their future.
Even though Uganda has managed to take the necessary steps to ensure that the infection rate in the country remains low, the hope for schools resuming is now relaying on the plan of the ministry to raise funds for immunization of learners and teachers as we continue with phased re-opening of schools.
Previously, the government launched the Covid-19 response plan which involved studying on radios, newspapers and Televisions directly to learners at home. However, some of our children in rural and indigenous communities that we support in Kanungu and Kisoro couldn’t afford the radios and Televisions hence being left out.
Challenges faced by children with no access to technological devices used in learning.
Some children like Batwa children in communal camps of Kitahurira in Kanungu and Kinyamahene of Kisoro have resorted to child labour in tea plantations in order to get money to feed their families and have no hope of even going back to school because the lockdown was just a trigger for their running away from school amidst the many challenges they were already experiencing during their normal school days.
Some girls have been forced into early marriages so that parents get bride price and money to cater for their needs.
Some children have faced domestic violence in their homes which has forced them to run away and they are not going back to school for good.
Hurdles brought by the new teaching system and phased re-opening after a full year of closure.
This has created a shift from learning face-to-face in the classrooms to adopting distance learning and virtual teaching methods. This significant change to the way of learning is presently operating in most urban areas leaving rural school teachers with a challenge to inevitably re-skill at a record pace to support the continuity of learning in these areas of the country and also enable a shift from traditional teaching methods and embrace technology.
Cherie Wilshire Foundation has started a project of teaching teachers in rural schools on how to use different tools such as power point which doesn’t require constant use of internet to organize notes for their students and later share it to them online and also be able to use it when schools resume officially.
We are also planning to issue a few laptops and other devices with offline learning materials like “KOLIBRI” to each school that we support for teachers and students to share notes.
This will help us to prevent further marginalization especially to societies on the periphery of the country especially in western Uganda.
We are working hand in hand with community leaders through our regional coordinators to identify out -of -school children and provide them with reading materials where we teach children on telephones of their parents so that they still keep updated and love going back to school when schools resume officially.
We are working with local council members in the areas we serve and provide them with guidance related to post disaster education planning especially information on how to counsel teenage girls to stay and love school and also how to prevent early pregnancies by use of brochures designed by the organization demonstrating this information to the girl children.
We appreciate all our friends and well wishers that support our work in Transforming lives and also welcome new people who are willing to support us.