By Patrick Jaramogi
Though close to 10 million children are enrolled in various Ugandan schools and their parents assume that they are learning the fact seems far from reality, a study has shown.
With majority of teachers paid peanuts as salary, and taxed heavily amidst the growing inflation, many see teachers as part of the problem towards children’s dismal performance in national examinations. But experts in education have intimated that the quality and commitment of teachers makes a big difference in children’s learning.
Majority of head teachers and teachers have suffered the wrath of school management for student’s murky performance. Some have been dismissed from school while others have been transferred to other schools.
But hope is not all lost as an International NGO STiR Education seems to be restoring hope among the school administration, teachers and learners by empowering teachers to be change makers.
The STIR movement started with 25 pioneer teachers in New Delhi India in 2012 and is focused on reaching over 100,000 teachers and 4 million learners by 2020. The movement entered Uganda three years ago and has so far set its roots in the districts of Kampala, Iganga, Mbarara and Gulu.
According to Brenda Otika the Program Manager Stir Education Uganda, they take teachers as solution to the problems affecting children’s learning processes.
“Our Theory of Change is that improved teacher motivation leads to more effective teaching practice, which in turn, results in better student learning outcomes,” said Otika.
She explained that STIR is committed to rigorous evaluation of the programs which includes analysis of ongoing data, independent evaluations and randomized controlled trials.
STIR has recently undertaken a countrywide talent search for creativity among teachers across the country. In partnership with Uganda National Teachers Union (UNATU), World Vision and other local partners, teachers are being identified in both government and private schools that are there to transform and ease the learning process in their classrooms amidst the hard challenges.
This week April 20- 24, regional workshops are being held in Kampala, Iganga, and Gulu were selected works of best teachers will be collected and used to aid learning across the country. “We shall select the best practices among the teachers in over 3,000 primary and secondary schools and replicate them among other teachers elsewhere,” said Otika.
At Sharing Hall in Nsambya, where the Central Uganda (Kampala) meeting was held on Wednesday over 60 teachers drawn from various schools in central region described how STIR has helped build a strong, professional and collaborative teacher networks that has shaped solutions to barriers in children’s learning.
Caroline Namusisi one of the Program managers at STiR Education notes that STIR sees teachers as the solution, not the problem.
“The approach centers on reigniting teacher motivation to drive better student learning outcomes. We start our engagement with teachers by recognizing their existing efforts and giving them an opportunity to collaborate and lead change in their classrooms through three stages of development,” said Namusisi during the meeting in Sharing.
Otika said they observed through the various engagements in various schools across the county that teachers do not exist in isolation. “We embed our model deeply into education systems by training and supporting officials responsible for school improvement (whom we call Education Leaders) to run our approach in their local areas.
We also build parallel network of policymakers and local officials to ensure a supportive and enabling environment for the teachers we engage with,” said Otika.
She said that in the districts, STIR offers three-year development opportunities to stakeholders at different levels Teachers to be recognized
At the end of the year after the selection exercise is complete; a total of 150 “best” teachers will be selected and evaluated to be later recognized during a national conference planned later in the
Responses from beneficiaries
Abwot Lucy from St. Denis Secondary School in Gaba says STiR Education has helped transform learning in Universal Secondary School (USE) like St. Denis Gaba. “Students who used to think that education is just a waste of time are now beginning to value education due to the StiR Education networks,” said Abwot.
Difas Munywa from Makerere Church of Uganda Primary school said children who used to come late to school, accusing their parents of giving them early morning domestic chores, are now sensitized on how to manage such domestic issues and still come early to school. “We have managed to address issues of poor reading cultures through formation of reading clubs,” said Difas.