KAMPALA, UGANDA: Education experts have asked the government to retrain lower primary school teachers before the reopening of schools. Lower primary classes have remained closed since March 2020 when the country was closed down to tame the spread of COVID-19.
The learners had been scheduled to return to school on June 7, 2021, a day before the government announced a second lockdown. Before this, hospitals had recorded an overwhelming number of patients, and hundreds of them had been reported from schools, sending the lower primary classes further into slumber.
As discussions on the reopening take shape, the Ministry of Education is now giving priority to learners who have stayed out of school longer as a result of disruptions. But Lukiya Kibone, an educationist and early learning specialist says that while the learners are prepared for a possible return, teachers also need to be retooled to cope with the post-covid challenges to education.
Kibone also calls for special counselling programmes for learners to help them resettle into the school set-up after months of redundancy.
David Ssengendo, the headteacher of Buganda Road Primary school says the retooling of teachers in the lower primary section is crucial to prepare them to psychologically receive children and realign their approaches to suit any unanticipated needs.
Asadu Kirabira, the head of private school owners in Kampala says retooling of the teachers is an important element in the recovery program of schools from the lockdown. He however says the government should sensitize teachers, headteachers and parents to enable them to know their responsibilities ahead of the reopening.
Aisha Nabukalu, a lower primary school teacher says in-service training for the teachers is very important at this moment and points out that a recent directive to schools to welcome all learners aged six who have not gone through the nursery section could pose challenges if teachers are not retooled.
Similarly, Moses Onyait, a primary teacher at St. Peter’s Church of Uganda Primary School, Kanyanya says some teachers will also need to be reminded about how to make lesson plans since they have done this for a long time.
The government had earlier announced a plan for the re-orientation of teachers to help them adapt to the new teaching styles and guidelines. The guidelines require teachers to concentrate on the core competencies in order to catch up with the lost time during the lockdown.