Talk 22: 2022 School Re-opening Plans, Leveraging The Lessons Learned From The Closures

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Our good listener, welcome to Busoga one 90.6 Fm, my name Nakiirya Brenda Doreen and I work with Community Concerns Uganda Initiative – our offices are located in Wairaka and we work in areas of education, health and vocational skills like tailoring, saloon and hair dressing at our offices where we work in districts like Mayuge, Luuka, Buyende, Jinja and Kamuli. Today I have not come alone but with three people and I will request them to introduce themselves by telling us their names, what they do and where they are coming from. I will begin with the gentleman on my left.

Panelist one: Thank Madam Nakiirya Brenda for giving me this opportunity of welcoming me to Busoga one. My name is Fred Balonde a teacher and as of now I am the principal of Bishop Wills Core PTC Iganga.

Moderator: We are glad to have you sir,

Fred Balonde: I am so much delighted to have the listeners too on Busoga One radio.

Moderator: Thank you sir I will invite the guest on my right hand side.

Panelist two: Thank you very much the moderator of this program, my name is Henry Kabulo the DEO Bugiri district. I want to appreciate the listeners and wishing them a good listening.

Moderator: You are welcome and I lasting inviting in the lady seated in the centre.

Panelist three: Thank you Madam Brenda my name is Alitubera Justine Violate the Head Mistress of Wamulongo P/S in Mpungwe sub-county, Mayuge district I am so delighted to be with you all today.

Moderator: You are welcome madam and I want to thank Elevate partners for education who have enabled to fund this program every Saturday and want to remind you that Elevate has been able fund this program from August 2021 and they have improved education using the local solutions within us. Today we are focusing on looking beyond the school closures and preparing the re-opening up of schools through learning from the lockdown and what should parents, children, schools expect and do. I want to continue thanking parents, teachers, head teachers and all stakeholders in the education fraternity listening to us right now. I want to encourage all children over there to inform your parents to draw close to be able to discuss with the guests for today in the studios. I also want to remind you last Saturday in this very seat was my colleague Mr. Balondemu Simon from GIST Iganga who hosted three people here. Among the people he hosted was Mr. Kamaga Edward the DEO from Kaliro district, Madam Nabirye Allen Jaliya the DIS Mayuge district and the deputy mistress madam Mukanza Prosscovia from Ndifakulya P/S in Bugiri district. They talked about supporting remote learning for all children when schools are still closed and sharing with the education officers what they have gone through in this period of the lock down. And they talked about a number of issues like

  • The greatest job for the office of the DEO is to oversee that all education programs in the district have to flow normally at all levels.
  • The DIS is to monitor the quality of studies well and the ministry of education and sports designed a program of remote learning in the lock down like using the self study materials, having TV lessons, radios and requesting parents to give them support to enable the children learn from home.
  • They also informed us that the Ministry has introduced in another thing known as E-learning on phones and get registered by the head teachers to get a learners cord to enable you  study using any type of phone by pressing *260# on any type of phone then select 5 to continue. Therefore, I want to briefly remind you on a few points they talked about. I also want to remind you that we are looking beyond the school closures and preparing the re-opening up of schools through learning from the lockdown and what should parents, children, schools expect and do. Therefore I have three people as you all heard and Mr. Balonde Fred the Principla Bishop Wills, Mr. Kabulo Henry the DEO Bugiri distric and Madam Alitubera Justine Head teacher Wamulongo P/S. To begin with the principal sir, right from last year, schools have been closed but as Elevate partners for Education, we have been funded to have these programs to talk about remote learning from home where we have hosted people like teachers, parents local leaders from the communities/villages and today just as we are looking beyond and what we have learnt from the lockdown, I would you to tell our listeners what is the major work of the college – Bishop Wills Core PTC to the learning of children in Busoga?

Fred Balonde: Thank you very much Brenda and I thank my colleagues in this program, the listeners of Busoga one. Ladies and gentlemen as I told you before, my name is Fred Balonde the Principal of Bishop Wills Core PTC but I will request madam Brenda to please allow me tell people that the college of Bishop Wills has got Award they added as CORE which is not on all colleges, and I want to be known by all parents and children that it does not consist on all colleges, meaning the college has got two programs and the first one is;

  1. To have a teacher two years training and when is done, it is called pre-service.
  2. When the teacher is through to get to the field, we do a follow up to ensure there is provision of good service that program is known as outreach where we have our staff known as CCTs and it means Centre Coordinating Tutor. We have got tutors who have got centers depending on the size of the districts and I will talk about Jinja where we have four centers i.e. the City and Jinja Rural where we have Nalambayi Centre, Budondo Centre, Lubanyi and Namaganga Centers with CCTS  Those are the centers covering the original Jinja, where these teachers coordinate with the office of the DEO and the DIS to ensure that children learn like where the government sent home learning materials and in this case CCTs moved around to see that those materials reach the communities where people were meant to have those materials from.

Secondly, time came when the government introduced the method of teachers teaching through radios and I am sure I listened to this very radio where teachers used to come and facilitate lessons, where those CCT prepared topics as they were going to be facilitated on radio because the moment you open the speakers everyone is listening to you. CCTs used to articulate topics to the children and the parents as they listened. The government has gone ahead to produce reading materials through the news papers and those very CCTs have picked copies to place them in different centers where parents are meant to pick them to support their children.

Moderator:  You mean you have supported the children through the CCTs.

Fred Balonde: Very true that is how the college has supported children through the centers.

Moderator: Now as the college which arrangement do you have to help the schools, teachers, parents and the district officials because I guess it will not be easy for schools when they re-open in January teachers will be few as many children will not get back to schools because of unwanted pregnancies, and many will not have the interest of getting back. Which easy situation are going to create to enable children continue well?

Fred Balonde: Thank you very much madam Brenda but as I told you that colleges have to be the coordinating centers for learning in schools because we training them and have the program of making a follow up in the field and we are organizing to have CPDs meaning Continuous Professional Development (meaning we to organize meetings for teachers, head teachers to train them to support children in this period) just as you said that other children are pregnant, have carried out businesses and they know how money is good etc. we want to train these teachers that children of that nature are all important in Uganda  by so we have to train them and letting them know that by the time the president placed a lockdown, they were very young children and now they have grown up and adopted many things like plating hairs just as you are and if miss handled, they will drop out of school. We want to let them know how to handle them without forcing the situation because we do not want to lose the future of Uganda since many of us have grown old and our chances have reduced. Therefore, we need to prepare a generation that will hold the flag of Uganda and also to prepare for workshops to coordinate with the DEOs and the CCTs will get together for and find means on how to support children who have been home for two years because it means a lot.

Moderator: That is very true but we shall get back to you and lets go to Mr. Kabulo and as your office it over sees that all educational programs in the district and as schools are set for re-opening in January,  which message do you have concerning the re-opening of schools?

Henry Kabulo: Thank you very much the moderator of this program and I first want to appreciate all parents and guardians having children at homes because children make us have jobs, and our businesses. Thank you for keeping the children because everything has got a beginning and an ending even this shall end. As people in the education sector, we very well know that the president said we shall get back to schools come next year but we have got plans to re-arrange schools for and see the nature of classes, Latrines, furniture (seats) because it has been long since schools have not been active and we have to do an assessment and send information to the centre because they promised to give us some support.

Moderator: Before you go any further, the one listening in may ask themselves a question that fine they said January but when exactly?

Henry Kabulo: Well, as far as I know these issues of Cvd 19 have been complex and this matter of when schools should exactly open is far beyond our understanding but the president will come and address the nation on which day should be announced? However, after being given those procedures, we shall also come up to guide our parents.

Moderator: Well, there are parents and children who lost their time most especially in lower classes and they are asking themselves on which other step to follow so that they can regain their lost time. What is your take over that issue?

Henery Kabulo: Those issues of education are being handled with care and at an optima time they shall be communicated to, and I am appealing to them to be a little patient.

Fred Balonde: To add on something small, Mr. Henry Kabule is just the DEO Bugiri and matters concerning education at the national head quota they are compiling data for Cvd status from all districts to make sure that they are able to communicate to entire nation. Therefore, it will not be okay for him to communicate issues of the nation.

Moderator: Mr. Kabulo you can go ahead and tell us those arrangements as you planning to do.

Henry Kabulo: Now after that we are doing assessments for all schools and secondly is the teachers vaccination just as the president said that there should be no teacher who should enter the class without being vaccinated and for any teacher who is not going to teach should not be paid because they will not be working.

Moderator: Do you mean that in Bugiri all teachers are vaccinated?

Henry Kabulo: According to our records very many teachers have been vaccinated and if I get the chance to get back here on radio, I will be able to tell you the accurate percentage but per now 80% has have been vaccinated because we have the data. I am encouraging the head teachers to report to us by registering their names, the type of vaccine, the number on the card and where they were vaccinated from. By the time the president announces the date for re-opening schools, we should be able tell who going to class because we don’t expect teachers to refuse as we need to serve by example. Another point as I eelier told you over time the government set text books but we have found out that those text books have been destroyed by termites and insects to assess whether they will be used when children report back. These are very important on our side to ensure that we curry out all and even cleanliness is these books clean?

Fred Balonde: Yes Madam moderator before the DEO finishes his point but even us at the colleges last week we were in a meeting of all principals in Uganda and they told us to distribute some materials because we work together with the DEOs and the we are waiting to be informed on when to collect those materials and we also give them to the DEOs.

Moderator: Okay we shall get back to you Mr. DEO but I want to ask the Head teacher of Wamulongo P/S Madam Alitubera, we want to know how your school has prepared for the re-opening in January?

Alitubera: Thank you so much Brenda, just as the DEO said we are preparing but the directives are given to us like the issue of teacher’s vaccination has been a responsibility, but it is good that teachers have taken this positively. The issue of books, latrines, and the buildings we have looked at all and they told us to cost them for renovation. Only the issue was to estimate the figures because we are not engineers and the area of cleaning the school if the government has not sent the grants you cannot do anything.

Moderator: In simple terms you mean you have not done much?

Alitubera: Right we have not done much.

Moderator: What can parents expect on that reporting day in January?

Alitubera: Come January, we have prepared but of course this is a request to the principal that as teachers, head teachers we need to be well prepared to change our mindset through workshops and seminars and even us too, parents will find us well prepared after meeting with the management, and allocation of work to all staff and still I take this opportunity to call upon parents to bring back their children on the first day for learning and we will be ready waiting for them as it shall help these parents because they have lived with these children for long. This shall lay out the fear of which class is my child going into.

Moderator: Okay first put a hold right there as we should first get into our short break, then when we get back we shall continue discussing as we are focusing on looking beyond the school closures and preparing the re-opening up of schools through learning from the lockdown and what should parents, children, schools expect and do. You will call on these numbers from the break 0757906906 0776999906 and continue talking to us.

Welcome back from that break and remember we talking about looking beyond the school closures and preparing the re-opening up of schools through learning from the lockdown and what should parents, children, schools expect and do. You will call on these numbers 0757906906 0776999906 and tell us how you have prepared when schools re-open in January.

Since the callers are not ready, madam Alitubera parents have a fear a always on the first day to bring their children to school.  I would like you to give a massage to parents out there what can they expect before sending back their children.

Alitubera: Thank you very much Madam Brenda but parents had got it wrong that children report to school on the first day, they only curry out general cleaning but schools no longer don that. And I want to encourage you to bring back you children and after they have got to know each other and the experiences they have gone through and after that we get to the assembly and inform children about Cvd , cleanliness and how they can keep their hygien safely, washing hands with soap and clean water etc.

Moderator: alright, let us pick this caller.

I do not know what is going on with the callers but we shall continue and I want to ask Mr. DEO and as you were telling us how prepared you are but there is already a challenge just like the principal was talking about on how the CCTs will give support to schools and according to you who are the people meant to help for re-opening of schools in January?

Kabulo Henry: Thank Brenda but just as I was talking about the re-opening of schools but as a department, we had to take a self evaluation as a district on where we should start from teachers or head teachers? For instance a teacher who went back to his home village before Cvd is not the same. Like others have gone for bodaboda riding, brick laying etc will not be the same. This applies to pupils like girls some have become pregnant, other given birth and their discipline is not defined. As leaders in education we want to involve other stake holders and engage senior men and women teachers to also go ahead and engage their colleagues. And also to engage the chairmen PTC from different schools to share the same information we had with them.

Moderator: Let us pick this caller.

Caller1: Thank you for calling and I am Basalirwa Daniel the former candidate L3 Buwunga sub-county. We have tried to prepare children and more especially in religion, and buying the scholastic materials. Secondary, we have got private schools in addition to the government schools and according to my own research those schools are worried that they may not be allowed to open for children to study and I am requesting Mr. Kabulo DEO Bugiri unto the Ugandan innovators who are adding value to our nation.

Caller2: I am Ivan from Butaswa Buyende district.

Moderator: Yes Ivan thank you for calling but how have you prepared your children to get back to school next year?

Caller2: I have been talking and counseling them through in preparation for schools to open.

Moderator: Thank you very much Mr. Ivan and I would like Mr. Kabulo to respond to the first callers concern.

Kabulo: I want to first appreciate Mr. Basalirwa for fulfilling his responsibilities as apparent in mentoring his children in God and through counseling them and even providing them with the scholastic materials. The issue of private schools and how they are being indebted is not only for Bugiri district just like you have been hearing it over radios and the other day you heard the minister of finance talking about it and I cannot say that it is this and that but the qualified schools shall operate.

Moderator: Thank you very much sir, let us pick another caller.

Caller3: My name is Bogere Phillip from Nairinga chapatti seller.

Moderator: Thank you Bogere, please tell us what you have learnt in this lockdown.

Caller3: I just want to thank your services but will children get to school the way they were?

Moderator: Thant question is going to be answered.

Hellos please tell us your name and where you’re calling from?

Caller4: My name is Kakaire from Kamuli,

Moderator:  Tell us how you have prepared the children and what have you learnt from this lockdown.

Caller4: I have prepared my children through counseling them but moderator I have got a question.

Moderator:  Please ask your question.

Caller4: I would like to ask Mr. Principal that the policies of education system have changed in Uganda that any government teacher at all level from nursery must hold a bachelors degree but in case I have got my child with a ECB certificate and would like to shift to ECB primary can they be accepted to upgrade and enroll from the their?

Moderator:  Thank you let us first respond to those two questions one by DEO and the other by the principal.

Kabulo:  Mr. Bogere’s question was about children reporting back to school the way they are? Truly children shall get to school because we have been living in the new normal and children have changed for this period of two years – where I think they will not get back the way they are. We are only encouraging parent to take children back they way they are we shall handle them they way they are from schools.

Moderator: let me ask ask the principal to respond to your question very fast because time is running.

Fred Balonde: Thank you Brenda, the gentleman asked that he heard about the policies of education and change of levels for teacher’s minimum at a degree level. Well, I want to thank God who has brought me to this radio today because it is true the government gave teachers ten years to upgrade but they are no longer ten years I think we are left with 8 years. I want to appeal to teachers who have not yet gone to school to please do. Then he has a student who has an ECD certificate it means that that teacher is a nursery teacher, it does not teacher should change from ECD to primary let them upgrade from that level because it is the same story with others. Let teachers not feel self pity instead encourage themselves after all many have done it.

Moderator: Okay thank you let me pick one caller because our time is far spent.

Caller5: My name is Wako Stanly Kamaga from Ivukula.

Moderator: Thank you very much Mr. Wako

Caller5: I want to thank the guests for today more especially the principal Bishop Wills, Mr. Principal, the plans you have after re-opening of schools were good plans but remembers after the first lockdown when schools were first re-opened, we tried to monitor schools but the challenge is teachers need a lot of sensitization where we found that teachers were teachers without lesson plans, and please put more emphasis on PPD and the district departments to emphasize on serious monitoring once schools re-open. Thank you very much my name is Stanly Kamaga from Ivukula

Moderator: Thank you and you have heard what Mr. Wako was addressing and I don’t know whether principal can supplement on something.

Fred Blonde: Thank you Mr. Stanly Kamaga who is my brother as well as my mentor because is one of the people who changed my attitude into the teaching profession. He is one of the associate assessors whom we have been sending to monitor schools from the district level. For sure the short time people went for the lockdown and then re-opened, they had forgotten on how to make lesson plans, and for any teacher out of work for six month its very normal he/she can forget but we are trying as I said the beginning to hold and conduct workshops and seminars to change their attitude and their minds, b y the time they get to classes they will know the people they are teaching. Just like the DEO said this time round they are going to teach mothers and fathers whom they should know how to handle them. We have got a big assignment of working together with the DEOs and head teachers to see how to help them and that is our core responsibility.

Moderator: Thank you very much and our time is spent and now madam you have heard what the caller was talking about and now how have you prepared your teachers this time round?

Alitubera: Thank you and as I earlier told you that teachers need ACPD to change their mindset from the previous time and this work is for DEO and the principal.

Moderator: Anyway our time is far spent and we want to thank the listeners more especially those ones that have managed to call in and at this time I want the message for today to all parents, teachers and children.

Kabulo: My massage is one, let every teacher prepare, go for vaccination and the tow dozes and if you have got a chance to be vaccinated by Johnson and Johnson then its okay that is the first step. Secondly, I am appealing to all head teachers to keep schools clean because the government told us to you some money it must be for that purpose and some schools received the money. For the side of parents, they should give feeding to children.

Moderator: Time is gone please give regards to two people.

Kabulo: I want to send regards to my children, wife, family and all good friends. Thank you for listening.

Moderator: Mr. Principal give your last message parents, teacher, children and send regards to two people.

Fred Balonde: Thank you Brenda. I am encouraging parents to take back your children to school no matter their status, schools shall accept them and we shall encourage them that this is not the end of all and let them accept to get to school. I would like to allow me send my regards to my family –wife and the children and the entire family of Bishop Wills were I work. Thank you for hosting us at Busoga one FM.

Moderator: Alright, madam Alitubera, give your last message to parents, teacher, children and send regards to two people.

Alitubera: Thank you and at this time I want to ask teachers to prepare and shift their minds to teaching. Parents you should be able to buy your children all the scholastic materials, uniforms etc because they no longer fit them. At this time I want to send my regards to my husband Mr. Kadebo Fred, and the children, people of Wamulongo thank you for loving me and the DEOs office in Mayuge.

Moderator: Thank you so much and our good listener this is our last talk show this year please thank you always for tuning in every Saturday, thank you for calling in every Saturday for 12-1:pm listening to us on this program. I know you have learnt much and to get these talk shows please visit our website at Elevate at www.elevateeducation.org.  I want to continue thanking Elevate partners for education for sponsoring these talk shows and thanking all of whom I work with. The staff of community concerns Uganda Initiative my parents in magagamaga and wishing you a happy new year and a live reporting back to school. Thank you for listening to us.