Is it embarrassing for an experienced headteacher with over 30 years of teaching experience to not possess a smartphone?
SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY | EDUCATION
"It is quite embarrassing for an experienced headteacher who has spent over 30 years in teaching service not to possess a smartphone, yet young teachers who have just completed their courses have them."
These were comments made by Julius Alinda, the Kagadi district inspector of schools, after issuing a directive that every primary school headteacher buys a smartphone.
And why is this?
To ease access to information.
His justification was as straightforward as that.
Alinda said having smartphones will minimise the need to go to the district headquarters to access information and pick relevant documents.
“I am directing all headteachers to buy smartphones so that they can easily access circulars, budgets and other relevant documents without travelling to the district headquarters," he said recently while meeting headteachers at Kagadi Model Primary School.
According to Newzoo's Global Mobile Markey Report, Uganda's smartphone penetration as of September 2018 stood at 15.6%, with 6,922,000 smartphone users recorded.
With a growing online population today, the penetration could be even higher.
The report, whose findings are based on a model that takes into account a country’s economic progression, demography, online population and inequality, gave Uganda a global ranking of 47th in 2018.
The UK, with over 54 million smartphone users and a smartphone penetration of 82.2%, topped the list.
Morocco was the highest-ranked (31st) African country last year. It was listed as having 13,707,000 smartphone users, with a penetration of 37.9%.
Meanwhile, in the Kagadi meeting, Alinda said headteachers are lagging behind due to lack of smartphones, as much information is passed on via social media.
He said it is absurd for headteachers to be overtaken by globalisation and not be abreast of the existing advanced technology.
He was keen to underline that his directive will be made mandatory and any headteacher without a smartphone will not be allowed into their meetings.
'Smartphones an invitation letter'
School leaders should be more informed than their junior teachers and therefore should own the gadgets to keep pace with them, reasoned the schools inspector.
Alinda also made another case: Headteachers should also own flash disks and laptops so as to process documents themselves, instead of moving long distances for purposes of printing and typing.
“We shall pass it as a policy. Smartphones will act as an invitation letter to the headteachers’ meetings,” he said.
Bartholomew Bukenya, the Kagadi district education officer, concurred with the inspector of schools, but said he was unhappy that some younger teachers were misusing smartphones.
Instead of delivering their lessons in class, some junior teachers keep chatting with their friends, he revealed.
“Much as we encourage headteachers to buy smartphones, I caution young teachers who misuse them and spend most of their time on WhatsApp instead of teaching.
"Be on social media only when you are outside the classroom and send relevant information to the concerned people,” said Bukenya.
Ritah Asiimwe, the deputy headteacher of Ihura Primary School, said the idea of headteachers buying smartphones was good, although she expressed disapproval over making it compulsory.
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