Bridging the Rural-Urban Divide in Education.

Solomon Kamukama, 2020–21 Fellow placed at St. Kizito Nabutaka Primary School, Luwero district in Central Uganda.

Introduction:

Solomon Kamukama had planned to travel to Kamwenge in Western Uganda to reunite with his lovely wife and their one-year-old daughter on 26th March, when on the evening of Wednesday 25th he heard the disheartening Presidential announcement that public transport was banned for up to 14 days. That information fell heavy and added injury to the fact that he had not seen his young family for months. He, however, had the option of using private transportation, this meant spending a good deal of money to reach Kamwenge. Instead, he chose to send ‘survival money’ to his wife and wait in Nabutaka until the 14-day Public-transport ban was lifted. Nabutaka is an outskirt village over 20 kilometers to the North East of Luwero town in Central Uganda.

Kamukama needed something to keep him busy. He started improving his work schemes and subsequently, writing lesson plans for all the lessons in the scheme book. This plan somewhat changed when Teach For Uganda released a 30-day engagement plan for the 2020–21 Fellows.

He embarked on the planned activities with delight. However, he could not submit his work in the Google folder as required because his smartphone had gotten broken at the beginning of the School Term. He could neither type nor upload his finished projects. He needed something else to do, something that did not require uploading.

After consulting his Leadership Development Officer, Charles Omoya Oyet, Kamukama built an effective basic strategy for engaging learners within his reach in Nabutaka. His objective was to ensure that the students did not stop learning.

LEARNER ENGAGEMENT ACTIVITY.

With strict adherence to social distancing and other safety protocols, Kamukama planned to visit individual homes for Primary Six (P.6) and Primary Seven (P.7) learners where he would teach a topic in Science or Social Studies. This translates into teaching three pupils each day. He, eventually, noticed that some families had 3–5 pupils. This meant that he would meet close to 10 learners daily.

Kamukama saw a chance to raise COVID-19 awareness during these home visits. He decided that at the end of every visit, he would share and remind the family about the Authority Safety Guidelines to prevent the Corona disease.

THE IMPACT.

Kamukama had met 23 children from P.6 and P.7 and taught them Science or Social Studies. Over a period of 3 weeks, with 2 or 3 lessons on each workday, Kamukama managed to teach more than 30 lessons. To increase his impact extensively, his Leadership Coach, Charles, traveled to Nabutaka on 24th April and visited Maama Erinah’s home to support Kamukama during his lesson. Omoya leveraged the opportunity to teach the children English.
He also supported Kamukama with a robust plan for his learning activities; 120 past papers of English and Mathematics, and a pull-out of New Vision’s Pass PLE. The plan and the items would improve the quality of engagements and feedback on learning.

Kamukama Solomon respecting social distance during a Science lesson at one of the homes in Nabutaka.
The students holding up the past papers received to help them continue learning in spite of the nationwide lockdown.
Leadership Development Officer, Charles Omoya Oyet, teaching English

In regard to the COVID-19 awareness, all families that Solomon reached out to adopted the safety guidelines. Maama Erinah, for instance, emphasizes that all visitors wash their hands at a water point in front of the compound before joining the family.

The most significant impact of this learning activity is not the actual lessons, but rather the ability of the teacher to keep the minds of these vulnerable children busy with intellectual challenges. Without this, the adolescents in these two classes will drop out of school even when schools are closed. The probability of young boys becoming village criminals and young girls becoming child mothers is incontestably high. Although he is hundreds of kilometers from his wife with a transistor radio as his companion, the role of Kamukama in Nabutaka now transcends all honors and medals.

Kamukama’s Challenges;

His first challenge was access to food. His learners’ parents have solved this by offering endless supplies of matooke, yellow bananas, onions, and tomatoes. In addition, he buys charcoal at reduced rates for his cooking.

He is also struggling with virtual interactions because he doesn’t have a smartphone or a computer.

Moreso, it is heartwrenching to be away from his wife and baby during these uncertain times. Even worse, he doesn’t have as much airtime to remain in touch and the nearest airtime center is in Lutuula, which is 2 kilometers away.

Despite these challenges, with a strong plan, personal and professional support from the Leadership Development Officer, Kamukama understands the urgency embedded in the need for his pupils’ continuous learning and he does this without expecting a single penny. Some heroes do not wear capes!

Please visit www.omprakash.org/covid19-support to support the work that our Leaders in Training, such as Kamukama Solomon, are doing to ensure that their learners in disadvantaged homes and communities don’t stop learning in spite of the pandemic. Your generosity is truly appreciated.

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