Despite lockdown, some real innovation creating small seeds of learning.
Elspeth Dugdale | July 2, 2020
For so many people, lockdown inevitably creates a type of inertia and lethargy – because very little is allowed to happen and restrictions are very severe. For Jody and Dan, however, it seems to have had the reverse effect and they have been extremely busy.
During lockdown with all schools in Uganda closed, millions of children are stuck at home - and as yet, there is no realistic provision for home learning. In the face of this educational storm, Jody has devised an ingenious solution of story reading via radio, as an effective teaching/learning model. READ for Life are now providing education programmes on the radio twice a day, six days a week across two radio stations teaching phonics and basic Maths skills in addition to reading books aloud, with comprehension questions. The programmes are hugely popular – one radio station claims to have around 3 million listeners!
Sam from Connect (right) with Geoffrey (left) from African Revival on Mega FM
Now READ for Life and Connect Education Centre teachers are joining forces to expand the story reading. Following on from the success of the radio broadcasts, they hope to be on three radio stations for daily live lessons within about a week and a half. Other prerecorded lessons are being listened to in Karamoja, one of the poorest, least resourced areas in northwest Uganda.
Evidence of their radio success is both visible and audible! Many children and parents call in to participate and engage. READ for Life recently awarded prizes to some keen, young listeners who phone in to take part.
“And we have a lot more prize winners! These children have been regular callers to our daily radio programmes. It's great to meet them after hearing them on the phone, ringing in to answer our questions. We are thankful to the parents for allowing them to call in and answer, and also bringing them to our office to collect their book prizes. Congratulations children!”
Although the Connect Centres have to remain closed for lessons, Connect Gulu & READ for Life teams are seizing the opportunity to take online courses and doing further targeted training sessions with Jody's guidance – they are becoming experts in ‘radio voices’, book reviews and clear pronunciation & spelling. Connect Lukomera also recently met to make plans to reopen in the near future for similar training and hopefully radio outreach too, in order to help the local primary children.
As we wrote previously, in Gulu, Dan has been instrumental in helping to organise the food distribution programme there during the harshest period of lockdown. However we hear that he has also now added phonics teaching to neighbouring children to his string of talents…. what an opportunity!
"Dan has decided to teach a little more locally – across the road. Each day Dan and Myron walk over with a box of mini chalkboards, a couple of storybooks, a small speaker with some phonics songs and some stickers for motivation! And… after 5 lessons, he is starting to see some progress!"
Good news in Gulu creating small seeds of learning - despite everything.