Tuesday, 29 April 2014
As I go round schools both primary and secondary schools the need that comes loud and clear from the teacher’s lips is lack of text books and to a greater extent, they are right for text books are the main source of teaching materials.
Are you aware that pupil’s can be a source of materials? Not easy to believe but its true!
I happened to visit Canon Apollo Demo School and was lucky to find a P.6 teacher conducting a library, lesson. Wow! That was wonderful for I had never attended such a lesson in my entire life.
I looked around the library; there were not many books that really struck my eyes. Many looked like donations that had no relation to the Ugandan curriculum.
As you very well know, most primary school pupils cover their books with news papers. These are the very materials that the teacher used for his lesson!
He asked pupils to unwrap their English language exercise books. The few exceptions who had not wrapped their exercise books with newspapers were allowed to unwrap a non – language Exercisebook.
Instruction one was “class look at your papers what can you see?”Hands went up! Pictures had caught almost every one’s eye. So, they went on mentioning what they could see. Some saw people, others bicycles, cars, houses, trees and so on and so forth.
Seeing their attention was mainly on pictures, he changed their attention to words .So instruction two was “Look at the words and only pick out words whose meaning you do not know?” They responded by picking the words pronouncing them the way they could and writing them in their exercise books. One pupil made the class burst with laughter when he read the word curriculum as “KULIKULAMU”
The teacher explained the meaning of these difficult words and asked pupils to construct sentences using the same words. He gave them freedom to either construct sentences using the newly learnt words or to describe one of the pictures of their choice.
To my astonishment, three quarters of the class took to describing the pictures. Some even drew and traced them in their exercise books which he collected at the end of the lesson.
I noted the pupil who had picked the curriculum word had written a composition about the Ugandan curriculum sighting out its pros and cons!
My assessment of the lesson was that pupils had one: - enjoyed themselves and had been given chance to discover and be creative.
Two: - that “free-lance lessons” made the teacher cover wider rangeof topics within a very short time.
This reminds me of the 2012 joint teacher- pupil instructional material development exhibition that amazed many parents and stake holders of the district.
Story writing,calendars, clocks, art pieces and so on and so forth were some of the materials made by both pupils and their teachers.
This was a non-text book exhibition with a clear message that pupils with diligent and passionate teachers produced better work. We can say that non text book material can be made and used if the teachers are creative and passionate about what they are teaching and secondly, pupils can do a lot under the supervision of their teachers. A competent teacher can use anything to conduct a well balanced lesson rich enough to make pupils improve on their literacy and numeracy levels.
According to the implementers, assessmentof 2014 should be the best of the EPP’s period reason being that the systems are already in place such that every school and teacher knows what to do when to do it and how and why to do it.
The other reason why 2014 should be the best of EPP’s period is that the super 2013 P.L.E performance has given a challenge to teachers in that they have to work double hard to keep up with the performance or do even better. In other words the project has to some extent achieved one of its major objectives which is to help schools improve on literacy and numeracy levels.
On ground, interclass debate competitions are going on smoothly.The 2013 theme of Malaria prevention and observance of children’s rights continue through 2014. All the debate motions poetry, composition topics, songs and drawings depict the major national theme of Malaria prevention and observation of children’s rights.First term according to the school calendar is a time of developing leadership and sports skills. The EPP implementing officers have been attending the occasions to moral boost their schools and have also used the occasion to help teachers gather the ideas to use as instructional materials when they go back to class.
First term also saw government implementing the school family initiative a program aimed at improving teacher pupil relationship for purposes of systematized follow up .The design of this program sees to it that every teacher is allotted 25- 30 pupils (from p.3 -7) to parent . EPP has found this government initiative program quite good in that every parent teacher can easily identify pupil’s language problems which problems can be discussed with the class teachers during the dialogue exercise.
This year has also seen teachers becoming authors. One Gavin Stella a teacher from Busiita P/S has written a play whose theme addresses climate change and environment conservation. The parents and the community at large have watched it being acted and have hailed her for the good work done. In her own words she says “If EPP had not come to our school, I would never have known that in me was a talent”
Schools that were given Computers have had trainings organized by the heads of schools. Currently all the teachers are computer literate and have opened internet addresses.
Mugusu primary school for example owes its increased enrollment due to the fact that some of the lessons are ICT based a thing that parents have embraced and supported.
As first term closes, we are optimistic that our pupils will carry the banner of lifting English language acquisition home with them and willcome back to school safe and sound.
“Programs have come and gone but EEP is different and has come to stay”.
This and many more of such comments keep escaping teachers, District stake holders and parent’s lips. The question is what has made it come out as aspecial program? The answer simply lies in motivating the teachers, helping them to asses themselves and returns to their calling.
The non- conventional innovative methods of teaching/ learning are not foreign methods of teaching but those very traditional methods wisely put together to fit the teacher’s teaching comfort as well as the level of the pupil’s capacity of grasping.
Also the co-curricular activities like MDD, Debates, sports, writing and drawing have proven that a child learns best in a free environment. It is in such moments where a child discovers his talents which talents when used wisely makes him an assertive, self-reliant, smart and quick in decision making plus making him physically and mentally fit.
The annual interschool co-curricular competitions among the project schools confirmed the above statements.
The aim of these competitions was to help the pupils learn to think and communicate coherently in English language. The result showed that pupils could not only think and speak in English but that they too developed the skills that go with language acquisition.This is actually the real explanation of the increased performance in the project schools in the shortest time.
Emphasis on co-curricular activities coupled with the availability of instructional materials developed by teachers and pupils plus of course text book materials and the renewal of teachers attitudes the support of the District stake holders not forgetting the donor partners have in two years brought forth results that have put a smile on the community and the District at large.
2013 results reveal a great improvement in the general performance of the schools compared to 2012 and the year before .70% of the pupils that sat P.L.E 2013 have joined secondary schools of these 38% are girls and 32% boys. Also the statistics show that many distinctions in English language were scored. Thanks to the teachers hard work! The teachers, the community and stake holders of the district are indeed happy with the program.
One very distinctive and vivid result in the schools is the use of spoken English while on the school premises. Each school has come up with a system to use to emphasize the habit of using English thus others have fully engaged parents in the exercise making sure that they speak English when home.