KAMPALA – Why are some children learning when most are not? is a question that Twaweza East Africa sought to answer in a report that the Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) launched on Tuesday, August 27.
The report reveals that many children are falling behind while still in the early grades of primary school.
“By Primary 3, only a small minority are learning at the right level for their grade, creating knock-on effects in their later learning as well,” reads an excerpt from the Twaweza brief.
The brief was written and produced by Twaweza East Africa which operates in Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania.
Speaking at the launch of the report held at Hotel Africana, the Commissioner for Basic Education in the Ministry of Education and Sports, Dr Mukasa Lusambu lauded Twaweza for conducting the study.
“Deviant is thought to be a negative connotation but we’re making it positive, Something good always exists even under terrible conditions,” he said referring to the poorly-funded rural primary schools that have excelled against all odds.
Twaweza’s Regional Coordinator, Julius Atuhurra said that headteachers are very critical in effecting change in these underprivileged schools.
“There are positive deviant schools and teachers everywhere including in persistently poorly performing districts,” said Mr Atuhurra at the launch.
He unveiled a number of Positive Deviants (PDs) who were selected headteachers from these exceptional schools to share their testimonies and challenges.
The teachers revealed some of the unusual tactics they have employed overtime to win the support of their rural pupils and local communities which often include illiterate parents who hail from peasant and fishing communities.
The UNATU General Secretary, Mr Filbert Baguma also thanked Twaweza for the study noting that parents should avoid fault finding and blaming teachers during teacher appraisals.
“Some communities have been described as hostile but formerly uncooperative communities can be changed for the better, ” said Mr Baguma.
Adding that it is important to identify, recognise and support them where they are weak in order to boost their morale.
Dr Lusambu, in the same breath also revealed that the best teachers will be rewarded in September this year with land titles and other prizes to recognize their importance.
One of the PD headteachers, Isaac from Kamuli stated that he has even been visiting his absent pupils at their homes to monitor them and maintain a cordial relationship with their parents.
“Give feedback that does not discourage the learner’s, “he said.
The Twaweza report notes that Positive Deviance is an approach to solving complex social problems without using extra resources that may not be available.
“It is premised on the observation that in every community that struggles with such individuals or groups whose unique behaviours and practices enable them to successfully overcome the problem without needing to resort to extra resources,” reads an excerpt from the brief.
The brief states that such behaviours are often available to the whole community: the solution to the problem is hidden in plain sight.
The launch was attended by various stakeholders from development partners, KCCA officials, District Educational Officers, teacher representatives- UNATU, Ministry of Education and Sports and various PD headteachers and the media.