The Ministry of Education and Sports has launched the resumption of radio broadcast lessons, days after the government effected a second school closure in the face of a new wave of covid19 infections.
Alex Kakooza, the Permanent Secretary of Ministry of Education, says the first lessons will cater for middle primary classes (P4 and P5) and will be aired over 15 regional-based radio stations starting June 14.
“Parents/guardians are therefore requested to support learners with radio sets and to also allow them time to tune in to the various radio stations in order to attend the lessons,” Kakooza noted in a statement, adding that the dates and timetable for other classes will be communicated later.
According to the program, each radio station will be airing two 25-minutes lessons per day for three days a week starting from Monday to Wednesday.
The radio stations selected for the job include; Mega Fm, Tembo Fm, Radio Wa, Voice of Karamoja, Radio Pacis, Open Gate, Radio Kitala, and CBS FM. Others are Radio Kagadi, Kasese Guide Fm, Baba Fm, Radio West, and Voice of Kigezi.
When schools abruptly closed last year, several schools came up with remote learning solutions most of which were internet-based. But considering the technological disparity, the ministry of education opted for using television and radio-based programs to implement distance education.
However, Ismael Mulindwa, the Director Basic Education who also doubles as the chairperson of the covid-19 education response committee, says they are not rushing for the televised lessons this time.
Mulindwa explains that unlike radio lesson broadcasting where the ministry through National Curriculum Development Centre has already developed capacity, they are several things they need to work on before resuming televised lessons.
“Televised lessons have several things that must be put up for it to be more effective; we are no ready and we don’t want to repeat mistakes that were made in earlier broadcasts,” says Mulindwa.
According to a UNSECO report, television lessons faced challenges in producing content, the absence of pre-existing partnerships for the design and broadcasting of the educational content, and also lacked collaboration between education specialists and the professionals of the audio-visual sector.
Mulindwa says apart from the production and pedagogical issues, they are also considering coverage and accessibility.
Learning from the first-time experience, Mulindwa says that the ministry through National Curriculum Development Centre has designed a new strategy to ensure the effectiveness and quality of the lessons they intend to air.
“The other time we were learning on the job. but now we have developed capacity and also reviewed our shortcomings,” explains Mulindwa. “First, all the lessons that are going to be broadcast have been preloaded under supervision of NCDC putting into consideration the art of teaching using radio.”
Mulindwa adds that during the 25 minutes’ lesson, they have ensured that there will be no adverts to distract learners’ attention once the lesson starts. Also, since not all teachers are knowledgeable in teaching using radio, he adds that a selected few teachers will be used.
To facilitate aired lessons, the ministry will be using part of the grant that the country received from the Global Partnership in Education-GPE program channeled through the World Bank as COVID-19 Emergency Education Response package.
Uganda received 5.8 billion Shillings in this package out of which 2.2 billion Shillings was to support the procurement of airtime on radio and TV stations to air the lessons.
Last year, government had mooted an idea of procuring a radio set for every household in Uganda as one of the means to ensure that no learner would miss out on the broadcast lessons. However, the idea suffered setbacks when MPs declined to approve a loan that could finance the programme, after finding the capacity of the supplier doubtful.