By Andrew Ssenyonga
The Uganda government and United States of America have launched a programme aimed at easing the learning of a Ugandan child.
The USAID/ Uganda literacy achievement and retention activity is an expansion activity of the Ministry of Education, Science, Technology and Sports.
The permanent Secretary to the ministry, Dr. Rose Nassali said the programme's main goal is to improve early grade reading skills and retention by strengthening reading instruction and reducing school related gender based violence.
"This programme is geared at supporting the ministry to implement its bold initiatives to improve early grade reading, and to reduce violence against children in schools through providing education programmes and anti-violence interventions, as well as through conducting assessments," she explained.
Permanent Secretary Education, Science, Technology and Sports. Dr. Rose Nassali Lukwago (L) with United States Ambassador to Uganda U.S. Chargé d'Affaires Patricia Mahoney reading to the pupils of St. Kizito Mpigi primary school during the launching of USAID/ Uganda literacy achievement and retention activity at the school playground on 11/17/2015. Photo by Godiver Asege
She made the confirmation during the national launch ceremony held at St. Kizito Mpigi primary school in Mpigi district on Tuesday.
Dr. Nassali noted that the programme supports the ministry's policy which states that P. 1- P. 3 pupils will be taught literacy in a familiar language.
"This backs the implementation of the thematic curriculum which was put in place to address the critical gap of children not developing literacy," Dr. Nassali said.
She noted that in the past, different forms of school related gender- based violence had serious and long term impact on learners.
"A safe school environment, without corporal punishment, bullying, or verbal and physical abuse, leads to more children staying in school and to more children learning to read," she said.
The US Cherge' d'affaires Patricia Mahoney said the programme will provide books for all learners and teachers in the 'participating schools.
"Successful implementation of the USAID/Uganda literacy achievement and retention activity is expected to result in many more children learning to read and enjoying school," she noted.
The program is funded by USAID and is implemented by RTI International through the existing systems of the Education ministry.
According to the USAID mission director Leslie Reed, the five year programme is set to operate in 28 districts and an estimated 3277 government aided school would benefit.
She added that the implementation will be phased starting with 13 districts of Buvuma, Kayunga, Mukono, Mpigi, Butambala, Nakasekeke, Kiboga, Hoima, Mbarara, Sheema, Mitoona, Rakai and Lwengo in February 2016.
Reed said the programme will work across all levels of government and it will help other education stakeholders to build literacy of early primary grade learners in three local languages and English.
"It focuses on improving reading skills in three local languages including Luganda, Runyoro/Rutoro, Runyankole/ Rukiga and English for early primary grade (P1-P4) learners," Reed said.
She added that teachers will also be trained in how to ensure a safe learning environment and will be given skills and knowledge required to handle the specific needs of all pupils.
Uganda, US launch literacy programme in schools