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Primary Education in Uganda A personal view John Whiteley.

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1 Primary Education in Uganda A personal view John Whiteley

2 Who am I? John Whiteley From Wigan UK Over 60! Schoolteacher for 45 years; started teaching in 1967 Degree in theology Spent much of my educational life as a deputy head in a British senior comprehensive school Joined VSO in 2009 and came to work with the inspectorate in Masindi. Since 2011 have been looking into the issues involved in teaching the Ugandan primary curriculum in typical Ugandan schools.

3 What have I been doing?

4 Ogunga Primary School, Kiryandongo District, 16 th October 2009 I counted 165 heads!

5 Natural and artificial forests P4 SST Being a natural forest, standing anyhow Being an artificial forest, all standing the same way in rows

6 Ones, tenths, hundredths and thousands, P5 Mathematics

7 Friction P7 Science

8 Sequences P4 Mathematics Column 1Column 2Column 3Column 4Column 5Column 6 Adding in 1s and 2s Adding in 2s and 3s Adding in 4s and 5s Adding in 6s and 8s Adding in 7s and 9s Adding in 11s and various

9 Bee drama, to explain the swarming habits of bees Worker bees doing all the work Feeding one of the larvae with royal jelly Queen mating with droneQueen laying eggs in a hexagonal cell

10 Subtraction of decimals, P5 Mathematics No borrowingBorrowing in one column Borrowing in two columns Repeated from left hand side of board

11 Relationships, P6 English, group work Who is the (1) grandmother of Joan (7) son-in-law of Hellen, etc What is the relation of (1) Enid to Jane (7) Peter to Francis, etc

12 Reading, all years This is a set of P3 SST books, never used because P3 are taught in Runyoro. But they are written in English, with a large typeface, and the syntax is relatively simple. They could be reading books for any year group.

13 Combustion, P5, Science When the bottle was sealed, the candle went out after five seconds because all the oxygen had been used up.

14 Distance, speed and time, P6, Mathematics A length of road was measured using a 10 metre length of string. The speed of passing vehicles could be calculated by measuring the time taken to pass between two points visible from the classroom.

15 Drawing angles, P5, Mathematics

16 Guided composition, jumbled up story, P4 – P7 English

17 Digestive system, P5, Science

18 Digestive system, poem Digestive system Im the mouth and Ive got teeth at the top, and underneath. Chop the food up nice and small, so we can digest it all! I am the oesophagus; I take food in a bolus to the stomach deep within for digestion to begin. In the stomach theres no rest – lots of juices, theyre the best at dissolving all our food so that it will do us good. There is lots of acid here, hydrochloric, that is clear, kills the germs and makes enough digestive enzymes do their stuff. Into the small intestine where the food goes next in line. Its a long tube, theres no doubt, several metres all stretched out. Much digestion goes on here, enzymes come from the liver to break down the proteins fast, carbohydrates, fats are last. Next the colon, its quite fat, takes the liquid out, and that means that whats left, our faeces, can come out from us with ease. Most important in all this – what we call peristalsis. Squeezes food along the tract so that digestion can act. The anus is last to show in our bottoms, as you know. Out come faeces, briefly seen, as they drop in the latrine.

19 A maximum and minimum thermometer (NOT a Sixs thermometer!!)

20 Inertia learning for English vocabulary, P4 – P7 Holiday Activities P7 work Vocabulary study (verb) meaning – to apply ones mind to learning, perhaps to a particular subject example – I am going home to study mathematics. farm (noun) meaning – a piece of land belonging to a person which is used for growing crops or raising animals example – I am going to dig on my uncles farm. tour (noun) meaning – a journey to visit several destinations example – I am going on a tour to America. tour (verb) meaning – to make a journey to visit several destinations example – We are going to tour America. camp (noun) meaning – a place where people stay in temporary shelters example – We went to the camp in Bweyale. camp (verb) meaning – to stay in temporary shelters example – We shall camp in Pakanyi. visit (verb) meaning – to stay at a place for a short time, for social reasons example – We shall visit my aunt in Hoima.

21 How to learn vocabulary, and other things Learning vocabulary Copy the words NEATLY AND CAREFULLY into your books. Read what you have written ALOUD to each other. TALK TO EACH OTHER in English about the words. ASK if you do not understand something.

22 Rotations and revolutions, P5, Mathematics

23 Use of whose, P5, English The children, in their groups, had to agree on the answers.

24 Debates, P4 – P7, English, SST, Science

25 CAPE, PE, P4

26 Maths work cards, P1 – P3

27 CAPE, Art and craft, all years

28 Millennium Development Goals 1.Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger 2.Achieve universal primary education 3.Promote gender equality and empower women 4.Reduce child mortality 5.Improve maternal health 6.Combat HIV / AIDS, malaria and other diseases 7.Ensure environmental sustainability 8.Develop a global partnership for development Education can have an influence on all of these goals.

29 Millennium Development Goal 2 Ensure that, by 2015, children everywhere, boys and girls alike, will be able to complete a full course of primary schooling. Uganda has been hugely successful in getting children into primary schools. It has been less successful in retaining those children to the end of Primary Seven. If children do not complete Primary Seven, Uganda will be much less successful in meeting the other Development Goals.

30 Why do children not complete Primary Seven? What are the figures? 2003 Number of children in Primary One – 1,914, Number of children who were registered for the PLE – 511,123 73% of the 2003 cohort did not complete Primary 7.

31 Why do children not complete Primary Seven? Responsibilities at home – early marriage – taken to work in the fields or family business – death - transferred to other schools - sickness But behind many of these reasons is the fact that children (or their parents) dont see the point of staying in school. Why not – because they cannot do the work and they are failing. What is the point of staying on? If they were succeeding at school they would be much more likely to stay.

32 Why are children failing in Primary Schools? This school bought end-of- year tests from Kampala Examination Services. Abitekaniza Jackline scored 1%, and she was not alone. There were many children who results were below 10%. Will Abitekaniza Jackline complete Primary Seven? I dont think so. Abitekanizas parents paid 1,000/= to be told that their daughter scored 1%. Will they want to keep her in school? I dont think so. And this is happening all across the country.

33 Why did the school buy tests like these?... Because on page 18 of Basic Requirements and Minimum Standards it says, At the end of each term the learner does end-of-term examinations... The school cannot afford to produce its own written papers at the low cost offered by Kampala Examination Services, or other providers, so they buy from them. Unfortunately, many of these tests, particularly for P4, are utterly unsuitable for the learners.

34 Why are children failing in Primary Schools? Reasons beyond the control of NCDC 1.Underfunding of the education service leading to crumbling buildings, huge classes and few or no resources. 2.The national obsession with PLE results, often shared by inspectors and district education officers. 3.Difficulties over language, particularly the transition from local language to English. 4.Life for many primary teachers, especially those in rural areas, (i.e. most of the country), is tough and not conducive to reflective and experimental education. 5.Many primary teachers are not particularly well educated themselves.

35 Why are children failing in Primary Schools? Reasons within the control of NCDC 1.The curriculum, especially in P6 and P7 is inappropriate for children in the lower half of the ability range. It is not enough to say that children of low ability should be given special treatment. They need a different syllabus. 2.Conscientious teachers feel that they must teach all of the curriculum without regard to whether children are learning. They receive the impression, from the syllabus books, government instructions, documents like BRMS, and the attitude of inspectors and CCTs, that education is just a matter of following the rules. It is not. They are not encouraged to experiment with the curriculum or ask crucial questions, such as, Are the children learning? 3.An acknowledgement (in the P6 syllabus page xiv) that the PLE examination is something to be anxious about. But there is more to life (and education) than the PLE.

36 Why are children failing in Primary Schools? Reasons within the control of NCDC 4. Many prescriptions seem to be written without regard to the abilities of the teachers or the children. For example, in P6 science children have to read or write stories about caring for and protecting vertebrates and invertebrates, sound, energy and the ear, the composition and functions of blood, and diseases and disorders of the heart and circulatory system. In my experience most children find enough difficulty in writing a story about what they did yesterday. 5. The integrated science syllabus is overloaded with facts and far too short on scientific enquiry. Teachers use text books, and if the text books include words like monocotyledon and dicotyledon (Primary Four!), the teachers try to teach these to the children, because they are in the text book. This does not help the children to enjoy science.

37 Why are children failing in Primary Schools? Reasons within the control of NCDC 6. The forty minute lesson – Each lesson in P5/P6/P7 shall last for 40 minutes and the same is implied for P4. The syllabus allows double lessons for practical subjects. A lesson should be as long as necessary for the child to learn and understand. 40 minutes is not long enough for large classes, older children or extended work. (The BRMS prescription that there shall be at least eight lessons in a day should also be challenged.) 7. There has to be more FUN in education CAPE is naturally enjoyable for most children, and there are references to games, puzzles ands riddles in other syllabuses. BUT the general approach is humourless and didactic. Education in Uganda is about BEING TOLD, not about DISCOVERY.

38 Why are children failing in Primary Schools? Observations about Primary Five, Integrated science, Term III, Theme 5, Managing changes in the environment 1.The maximum time available is only 18 x 40 minute lessons. 2.Many children will be only 11 years old. 3.Most children will be struggling with English. 4.The following topics are substantial studies in themselves – fermentation, respiration (not studied until P6), earthquakes, placement faulting, volcanic action, mountain formation, rain formation. (Since mountain formation is not an observable change, why is it here?) There are 12 letters in the word fermentation. 5.The classification into biological, physical and chemical changes is an abstract concept beyond the capacity of P5 children to grasp.

39 Why are children failing in Primary Schools? Observations about Primary Five, Integrated science, Term III, Theme 5, Managing changes in the environment 6.The consequences of changes do not include death and injury, which are common results of earthquakes, landslides and volcanic action. 7.Reciting poems, role playing and writing and singing songs about environmental changes are far from easy for your average Ugandan teacher to organise, and would occupy a good deal of time. 8.Content 2, Characteristics of various types of changes to the environment is not explained and has no examples. Why is it there? 9.Content 3 Change of state, new things are formed and placement of things seem vague and rather pointless. 10.Assessment activity 3, Describe ways of managing different changes that happen in our environment is a huge subject in itself, and is not explained.

40 Why are children failing in Primary Schools? Observations about Primary Five, Integrated science, Term III, Theme 5, Managing changes in the environment This type of prescription is common throughout the syllabuses. The obvious danger is, because the subject matter is extensive and difficult, that the teachers will simply write lists of facts on the board, which the children will copy down illegibly in their books, and will fail to comprehend in any way.

41 Some suggestions 1 Write an alternative syllabus for P6 and P7 This syllabus should concentrate on basic literacy and numeracy and practical and life skills. Above all it must be ENJOYABLE and the children must feel that they are succeeding. P6 and P7 could probably be taught together. Schools would need to find an eighth classroom. (In my experience schools have sufficient staff to cover this extra class. Teaching space would be the usual problem.) A certificate should be awarded for successful completion of the course, recognising such qualities as attendance and punctuality, ability to work with others, imagination, service to others and business acumen. Certificates could perhaps be awarded by districts which would allow some flexibility appropriate to the area.

42 Some suggestions 2 Issue guidelines to schools, inspectors, CCTs and PTCs to be read in conjunction with your syllabuses The guidelines should stress the importance of success in education. If children drop out, that is failure on everyones part. Teachers should be encouraged to be flexible about which parts of the syllabus they choose to emphasise. It might be better for the children to cover half the syllabus and understand some of it, than to cover all of it and understand none of it. Not all lessons need to follow the same pattern or be of the same length. Not all lesson plans need to follow the same pattern. Lesson plans should be HONEST. There is too much pressure on teachers to say the right things without doing them. Above all, the children must UNDERSTAND what they are being taught and they should ENJOY being in school.

43 Some suggestions 3 Open a public debate about the examination oriented culture of Ugandan education In Primary Seven most children spend their time revising from the printed commercial tests rather than from their own books. Are past tests the best books they have? The prescriptions in BRMS at the end of each lesson, the learner answers oral and written questions at the end of each topic, the learner answers oral and written questions at the end of each term, the learner does end-of-term examinations need to be questioned. Why do there have to be written questions every lesson? Buying commercially produced tests for P4 and P5 is just condemning the majority of children to failure. NCDC could lead the debate about what sort of school system Uganda wants.

44 Some suggestions 4 Put yourselves in the position of the teachers who have to teach your syllabuses and the children who have to be taught by them. The teachers, in most cases, have only Senior Four education. Few of them have access to books or newspapers, or even television. Hardly any can understand or use the internet. Many have to draw water from boreholes and cook on wood or charcoal. Few will have electric light. Taking work home is not an option. Marking and preparation have to be done in school. Most schools are still rural. Their classes may be huge, and texts books few or non-existent. By the end of Primary Four many children will have acquired only a few words of English. Most children in homes where English is not spoken will struggle to the end of Primary Seven.

45 Some suggestions 5 Publish your syllabuses electronically There are insufficient printed copies of the syllabuses. On-line publishing should not be expensive if the syllabuses are already held on computers. In the UK all syllabuses are available on-line and for free.

46 Thank you for listening!

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