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West Nile receives materials to boost learning during lockdown

By Andrew Masinde

Added 23rd May 2020 07:00 AM

My parents are always drinking, also none of them went to school so they cannot help me with my school work," 12-year-old Fahad said.

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A pupil looking at the study material she had just received. Photo/Courtesy

My parents are always drinking, also none of them went to school so they cannot help me with my school work," 12-year-old Fahad said.

COVID-19 | EDUCATION

Access to education was severely distracted by the closure of educational institutions in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

This, in addition, caused protection risks as it deprived girls of a protective environment and source of life-saving information and psychosocial support.

With prolonged closure of schools, the risks of many girls dropping out of school increased which further entrenched gender gaps in education and undermined long-term opportunities for children in fragile settings. 

For many children in the refugee settlements of West Nile, missing school exposes them to many challenges. 15-year-old Zillian, a pupil in one of the primary schools says she feels very unhappy not be in school at the moment because she spends most of the time doing domestic work such as cooking for her parents and other siblings.

“I collect water all the time as well as brewing alcohol with my grandmother who is staying with us. Since the lockdown, I have never gotten time to read my books. I’m worried that when I return to school, I will not be at the same pace with others,” she says.

Like Zillian, 12-year-old Fahad says there is no effective teaching and learning that takes place at home.

He explains that at home, there are no desks for him to use for learning and his parents do not have time to teach him like what the teachers were doing at school.

“They are always drinking, also none of them went to school so they cannot help me with my school work. Even when the school was closed, all teachers went in different directions so there is no contact with any of them,” Fahad said.

He added that he misses his colleagues so much as they used to play football together and have group discussions.

16-year-old Leticia says at home she does not have light at night to support her reading. She explained that learning from home is quite difficult because of domestic activities which tend to interrupt her reading.

At least at school, they have group work activities and discussions from school-peer to peer learning, especially in science.

For 13-year-old Bridget, who is currently in a candidate class, is worried that they have not studied and yet have to sit for exams at the end of the year.

“Being in primary seven, I am worried about my primary leaving examination since we have not studied much this year. Even the revision papers have not reached our village. There are no other pupils in the village who are in the same class with me, something that is also affecting me negatively,” she says.

In a bid to support children’s continuity of learning at home during the lockdown in Rhino and Bidibidi refugee settlements, Plan International Uganda, in partnership with Ministry of Education and Sports COVID-19 Response plan has printed and distributed a set of home learning materials for 10,600 children of whom 5,830 are girls and 4770 boys.

Jessica Ilomu, National Programme Manager in charge of Education at Plan International says the educational materials worth sh196m are detailed, comprehensive and have been developed based on guidelines provided by the Ministry of Education and Sports to ensure children continue to cover the curriculum and acquire core basic concepts from what they learnt before schools closed.

She explained that the content in the booklets covers the curriculum for the first school term, which was halted due to abrupt school closure.

Ilomu added that to ensure that children receive the self-study materials, the organisation is distributing them door to door, working in collaboration with parents, teachers, learners, and other community leaders.

“As the children go about the learning, peer to peer support is encouraged, where they help each other in a single-family setting along the way. In addition to that, their resident caregivers and teachers will more often be checking on the children to ensure they are getting on well with the studies and homework,” she said.

Zillian, whose dream is to become a teacher says she is excited about the package. “The book is easy to handle since all four subjects have been put together to make one document. My best subjects are social studies and Mathematics, “she says.

Leticia, studying to become a nurse to treat her people in the community says her best subjects are English, Science, and SST. “I like the material because they are simple, summarised and easy to understand,” she says.

Jessica Ilomu, notes that teachers have been asked to collect all the books for marking as soon as schools re-open which motivates children to work hard and complete all the exercises in the book.
“Teachers will help children to understand all areas they couldn’t complete in the booklet while at home,” she said.

Rasul Luriga, the district education officer for Yumbe said the books are a great relief to the children because the government materials were not enough for all the children. “They are summarised, so children can even teach themselves,” he said.

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