COMMUNITY QUALITY EDUCATION FOR PRIMARY SCHOOLS UPDATES
(29TH JUNE 2011)
This is a new programme among our activities, and it is currently ran under our Child Welfare Department. As noted above, it came to be as a response to the deteriorating academic standards and performances not only among our sponsored children, but also among those sponsored by other organizations, and to a wider scale, the entire of Eastern region of Uganda, especially the rural setting. We have so far ran it for one and a half years in a few schools but we are every encouraged by the reports from the beneficiaries and other stakeholders.
It should be noted that as we implement this new initiative we simultaneously continue with the min-research about it. This helps us to revise and update our approaches besides adding in more aspects and topics which we did not envisage at inception.
In the first two cluster schools we started with we trained only six teachers from each school; two from upper, two from middle and two from lower primary. Soon we noticed that this would not be as effective as we want, so in the latter three clusters all staff were trained. Thus, even if there come transfers and other changes to follow, there are higher chances of retaining enough teachers to push the programme forward.
Even the sharing of ideas, consultations, promoting and encouraging each other on the new initiative is more possible and viable with big numbers in one place.
As we continued giving rewards for the best 3 pupils in every class at the end of the academic term, we noticed these things:
1) The need to reward the best improved pupils though not necessarily among the best three. We accordingly started rewarding such pupils also with effect from second term of last year. Such pupils would be those who could, say, be getting lower totals out of the 400 but drastically due to our campaign for quality education increase his/her totals drastically, or if his/her position was always at the bottom but moves so high upon the position list.
2) Another discovery in this respect is the fact that even the teachers needed to be recognized for the extra effort, hard work, commitment and embracing of the new initiative. Subsequently, we started rewarding particular teachers in areas such as best improved subject teachers, most punctual teacher, best parent-teacher, best teaching-aids user.
3) We have discovered the need for more issues to be taught, and these we have started offering, though not in details, enough for the teachers to be sensitized and convinced to do the right thing. They are all compounded in a big topic called “General Essentials”, and consists of Team Work; Integrity; Accepting and Managing change; Time Management; Goal setting; Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation and Commitment.
TOUCHING STAKEHOLDERS’ ATTITUDE
These teachings, apart from the head knowledge and skills the teachers acquire, a lot is done to positively change their attitude and mind-set to a point of realizing and knowing that a lot depends on them for the pupils to success and that they have the ability to cause quality education that brings about good examination results and success among learners.
On the other hand, as the name of the initiative goes, with ‘community’ in it, we need the community leaders’ in following up the programme implementation in a particular school community catchment area. Thus, after training the teachers, other stakeholders namely the political leaders referred to as Local Councils, the schools’ founding bodies such as the church, headteachers, School Management Committees and Parents and Teachers Association leadership are brought together to discuss and map out the way forward. This planning is done alongside serious sensitization of the above people about their roles and responsibilities in the new venture of quality education.
This, though we have so far done for a short time of only about a year, the first indicators are positive and encouraging. The community through those leaders owns the programme, and working together with the Community Quality Education Committee we hope for substantial and measurable improvement in the quality of education.
In the initiative emphasis is put on primary school education because we know and believe that it is the foundation, and if it is firm then the subsequent levels in the education ladder will mostly be successful. For instance the quality of the secondary school one joins mostly depends on the performance in one’s primary school.
SHOCKING RESULTS OF ANOTHER RESEARCH BY UWEZO
During the implementation of this programme in November last year, we received from Uganda National NGO Forum a report entitled “Are Our Children Learning?” (email: info(at)ngoforum.or.ug Website: www.uwezo.net). The revelations therein were so appal1ing that they made our intervention even more crucial and relevant. For instance on its page 46, specifically referring to one of the districts where we work, the report says “At P.7 level only 59% of all the children tested were able to read and comprehend a P.2 story, while 2.1% of the children could not even identify the letters”!
It is at this point that CCP greatly appreciates all the other stakeholders who have made it possible by policy and greatly by practice to ensure that all children go to school. This move has greatly improved enrolment at primary schools and attendance is good, and retention is improving with increased campaigns and sensitization.
CCP joins in this great campaign but our crucial concern is that attending school does not mean learning. Of the four pillars of the UN Child Rights namely: 1) Survival
2) Participation, 3) Protection and 4) Development, we see that No.4 is receiving a very low deal in this respect if for the seven years children are in primary school, in some places a majority of them cannot understand P.2 work. This makes a drive for quality education imperative and it must be with multi facet approach involving all the stakeholders.
CCP notes that while such an overwhelming number of children are receiving such poor education, their counterpart minority of the affluent in the nation are able to access the learning that leads them to quality secondary education to consequently earn them places in universities to offer the best marketable courses, in several cases on government sponsorship scheme. The education system therefore, though not by design, basically prepares two types of people; the bosses from the economically sound background, and the servants/porters from especially the rural poor. If this continues, we would get and continue to have two distinct vicious cycles in our education system and the economy:
The rich people – quality education centered and the poor people – poor education centered with the corresponding impact in each case.
This must stop; all children should access the type of education that guarantees effective learning, fair competition and potential success. CCP, small as we are, are committed to this and we need everyone’s support to improve on our initiative but also have it spread and adopted country wide.
VOCATIONAL TRAINING AT CCP
Note that CCP does not look at quality education in terms of academics only:, we as well highly and practice vocational training. Through our CCP Vocational Training Institute, likely to be the largest in Eastern Uganda currently, we offer several market-oriented courses:
1) Early Childhood Development (Nursery Teaching etc)
2) Secretarial Studies
3) Hotel and Institutional Catering
4) Hairdressing and Beautification
5) Building and Concrete Practice
6) Electrical Installation
8) Motor Vehicle Mechanics
9) Computer packages
Course soon to be offered:
1) Motorcycle Repair
2) Refrigeration and Air Conditioning
3) Welding and Metal Fabrication
4) Carpentry and Joinery
6) Computer Repair and Maintenance
The current students’ population is over 1,100, mostly girls. Since it’s inception in 1989 with 20 students in two courses, we have every year produced steadily increasing numbers of well trained job makers gainfully working in the country. Some of our trainees come from the Republic of Kenya.
A MOVE FOR QUALITY VOCATIONAL TRAINING
We have noted that the old curriculum had a big component of theory. In a bid to improve the quality of our training and eventually our graduates, we are embarking on a new approach called Competence Based Training. This one offers more opportunity for practicals and guarantees better acquisition of skills, confidence and competence.
Aware that most technical and vocational institutions have most of their instructors who are not professional teachers, and in an effort to improve the training not only in our institute, but in others too, we undertook to host and fund the training of instructors stretching from Soroti to Busia. It is a stretch of about 250km. We trained them in especially Pedagogy – teaching methods.
1) Creating awareness about the need for Quality Education
2) Working on our people’s complacency and false satisfaction about the type of education being accessed. Even where things are good, there is always room for improvement, but in our case the situation is pathetic especially compared to some others in the country.
3) Working on the attitude and mind-set of community stakeholders to realize that their strategic and meaningful involvement can result in quality education to improve individual quality of life and general development of their particular areas.
4) Drastic improvement and commitment of teachers to the pupils and duty leading to pupils loving school, increased enrolment and retention.
5) Increased commitment by pupils to studies and competition in learning
6) Being accepted, appreciated and supported by the District Education Offices where we work
7) Increased CCP and CCP VTI’s popularity: more schools are requesting us to go and train their teachers and talk to parents about their roles in the child’s education. VTI population is as well growing as more people come to learn of it as we train.
8) Our trainers/facilitators are sought by even the District Education Office to go and train other teachers.
9) Some school communities have established the Community Quality Education Committees.
10) We have so far conducted training in 5 centers and trained 332 teachers.
11) We have supported two schools to establish gardens for food production to supplement the teacher’s income for survival, though the weather has not been favourable.
12) We have since last year; termly rewarded the best performing and improved pupils in every class. And this has been taken on by some individual parents and community leaders too.
13) Though yet to a smaller extent, the entire community, and not only parents of pupils are stakeholders of the school, all the children and their discipline.
14) Successfully sharing the programme idea, with Compassion International and working with some of their projects.
-Our training is limited by the little funding which for now is yet to be sure and steady.
-The initiative which for now operates under Child Welfare Department is so demanding on the staff and resources for the already routine activities thereof.
1) Faculty Development – with the availability of resources, and specifically funds, we plan to train more trainers. We hope this will help the idea to move far, wider and faster. We also hope to always have trainers available whenever we have an engagement to train.
2) We plan to recruit staff specifically for the programme. This would increase effectiveness in our service delivery, monitoring and evaluation and also let the current already loaded staff free to continue with their routine duties.
3) We intend to hold an Executive Conference on Quality Education as a means to engage highly placed duty bearers to appreciate and join this noble cause. These would include among others:
a. District Chairpersons
b. Principals of Primary Teachers Colleges (which are apparently deficient in their training packages)
c. Chief Executive Officers
d. District Education Officers
e. Bishops/their equivalent as key representatives of Founding Bodies for the schools
4) Develop and improve the programme further to merit being adopted by government.
5) Seek more funding and other resources from various quarters to sustain, improve and expand the programme for both primary and vocational technical training.
6) Engage more Civil Society Organizations especially those focusing on education to join us. We hope even the Business Sector will join.
EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR – CCP