Many children in Uganda are exiting the national education system without the skills they need to succeed in life. Less than half of Primary 3 through Primary 7 pupils in Uganda's government schools have reached the expected reading and mathematics competency for Primary 2.
The learning crisis is amplified by the fact that Uganda's government-aided primary schools are conspicuously under-funded. The Ugandan National Planning Authority estimates that due to increasing pupil enrollment, there will be a minimum $1.13 billion funding gap for primary education by 2030.
However, there are some schools where despite the lack of resources available, pupils are achieving at high academic levels. In a national context where many children are not learning and additional resources are not available, how do some schools ensure that pupils are gaining the academic skills they need to succeed?
The positive deviance (PD) approach to solving social problems is premised on the observation that in every community, there exist ordinary people or institutions who have figured out better, sometimes extraordinary, solutions to prevailing problems in their community – without access to outside resources.
Positive deviance engages communities in the identification and implementation or successful, locally adapted strategies of change.
Emphasis on identifying and scaling practices that have already worked in a particular context.
Use resources that are already available to all community members
Feedback from the teachers
In my area, I have become an advocate for Elevate’s work. Whenever we meet with my fellow teachers, I bring up some aspects of the issues that Elevate has been focusing on during the talk shows, mostly focusing on how we can help the children during this very difficult time especially those who are still at home. Even some of these children are candidates and have been performing very well but their parents do not have the money required for them to return to school. Sometimes, I have talked to the headteacher to allow them come back and pursue their studies, and they can pay the registration fees later.
— Teacher from Luuka
Elevate’s talk shows have been very good on our side since now the parents are more willing to listen and adopt our advice. Some parents had a negative attitude towards their children such that when those children misbehaved, they would completely abandon them and stop supporting their education. I visited five different households which had decided to dump their candidate children because of misbehavior. All the children are now back in school after my appeal to their parents and using some of the support messages and insights obtained from the talk shows.
— Teacher from Iganga
The parents in my area are now very eager to listen to the talk show every Saturday, they even call to remind me to tune in. This all began from the fact that I mobilized them when I was going to appear on the show, and from then onwards they have been keen to tune in. Even the men who used to not care much about their children, now I see them even coming to school to follow-up on issues relating to their children’s education – something that was quire rare before. After the training we had in March, I caused a meeting of the SMC and urged all the members to mobilize parents for a meeting. I addressed the parents and asked them to change their attitudes in order to help their children, and I am seeing that change especially now with the re-opening of schools for candidates.
— Teacher from Kaliro