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Literacy: Mad rush for adult education

By Vision Reporter

Added 25th May 2010 03:00 AM

THERE is a new trend in Kampala’s primary schools where children move out of schools in the evening and leave the classroom for what is known as adult evening classes (AEC).

THERE is a new trend in Kampala’s primary schools where children move out of schools in the evening and leave the classroom for what is known as adult evening classes (AEC).

By George Laghu

THERE is a new trend in Kampala’s primary schools where children move out of schools in the evening and leave the classroom for what is known as adult evening classes (AEC).

Adults from all walks of life converge in these institutions in search of academic credentials. Huge posters and banners in the city announce where to get the services.

Adult education is becoming a booming investment. Such is the case with John Edema who dropped out of school 45 years ago, abandoning his dream of becoming a district commissioner.

“I lost hope after three attempts with the Functional Adult Literacy (FAL) programme. It offered no hope of ever breaking into the conventional educational system where I can advance my dreams,” Edema says.

Five years ago, Edema was elected chairman of his village. It was then that his dream to become a public administrator was rekindled. At 65, Edema joined the Makerere A’ level evening classes for Adults to attain an O’ level certificate for next year’s local council elections.

According to the director, Rev Headison Nyanzi, the institution, which started in 1996 with three students, had a vision of giving adults who had dropped out of school an opportunity to acquire an education.

Rev. Nyanzi says many MPs attended the institution before joining Makerere University or universities abroad. “A number of our students with political ambitions are attending crush programmes to sit examinations this year so that they can be ready for next year’s elections. Election fever is one of the reasons we have registered the biggest number of candidates ever,” Nyanzi explains.


The institution helps adults get O’ and A’ level certificates to be able to achieve their goals. The school has opened a branch in Hoima with others planned for Mbarara, Mbale and Gulu. The school, which was registered by the education ministry in 2003, has ‘A’ level classes at Makerere Redeemed Church and O’ level classes on Sir Apollo Kaggwa Road.

Over 800 students attend three-hour classes in the morning, afternoons and evenings. The school also has an orientation course in primary education. Its programmes are tailored to meet the needs of adult learners. It does not register students below the age of 23. It also admits expectant and breastfeeding mothers.

The school has no holidays, uniforms or late coming rules considering that most students have responsibilities that may not allow them to keep time. To be in time for examinations, the school only teaches the significant topics in each subject.

Success Story
One of its first three students is now a lecturer in a Japan university. Two other former students have returned to the school as teachers after graduating from the university. Two former house girls who trained here as secretaries have also been employed by the school.

Edison Kyagulanyi, now a teacher in the school dropped out of school at Senior Four due to lack of schools fees. He became a driver with a company until he lost his job in 2005. “My brother encouraged me to join the school. I did my O’ and A’ level, passed and joined Makerere University where I did a bachelor of arts in education,” Kyagulanyi says.

Another teacher, Lillian Kangabe, re-sat ‘A’ level fat the school and later joined Makerere University. Kangabe, who teaches English at the school, recommends adult education for women as the only way to address the social imbalance in formal education.

He says many women are seeking adult education to cope with the changing times. Some got married to men of high social status and their husbands who are urging them to go for further education. For Stephen Eregu from Kaberamaido, the school is the launching pad for his political ambitions. After dropping out of school in 2002, Eregu married a woman who had also dropped out of school.

“A friend told my wife about the school and we decided to enroll. She did her O’ and A’ levels and is now studying nursing,” Eregu says.

Challenges
It took years to convince the Ministry of Education to recognise the school. Other challenges include financial constraints, lack of space for expansion and shortage of teaching staff. At the moment, the school has only 32 teachers.

“Some women complain of failing to strike a balance between studies and domestic chores. For this reason, some husbands refuse to continue paying fees for their wives,” Kangabe says. Meanwhile, some students prefer feel uncomfortable identifying themselves as students.

Many of them would rather tell people that they are going to church for marriage counselling or evening lectures at Makerere University. Those holding important positions in the Government come to school under the cover of the night.

Literacy: Mad rush for adult education

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