KAMPALA – Ms. Namutsi Valaria is a French teacher at Mbale school for the deaf who teaches a class with three groups; hearing students, hard of hearing students, and total deaf students.
She says it is very difficult to effectively deliver the lesson to such a class in a way that you must make sure that all the three categories of the learners pick.
Namutetsi and other French teachers on Saturday attended the workshop organised by Makerere University department of European and Oriental languages for a needs assessment among French tutors selected from tertiary institutions that do the vocational-technical assessment.
The workshop which was intended at connecting with teachers of functional French for better assessment and planning was held at Ndere Center, Kisasi, Kampala.
Namutetsi told the press that as French teachers, they face a number of challenges while executing their duties.
“We have inadequate sign language interpreters who can help us to deliver the lesson and most of all, you find that we do not have the teaching materials that really direct us to what we’re supposed to cover. Much as the syllabus is there but the materials that are supposed to support the teaching and learning process are not in place.”
“Also, as teachers, we are not appointed by the government and there is no code that caters for us. I personally did an interview in June 2019 but up to date, I’ve not received my appointment. Each time we ask about it, they tell you to wait, so we get demoralized,” she said.
According to her, deaf students have often not been catered for when it comes to examination whereby they (exams) are always audio and video audio.
“These students should be asked to write since they don’t have speaking and hearing ability.”
Another teacher, Mr. Wamange Simon Peter, the Deputy headteacher, Nyondo SS in Mbale revealed that most French instructors are jobless having been turned down by most of the institutions since they don’t offer the French language.
He asked the government to direct all the schools to start teaching the language since it is becoming essential particularly in fields of tourism, catering, and hospitality, among others.
Edith Natukunda, the Associate Professor and Acting Head of the European and Oriental languages department at Makerere University said that the university signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the French Embassy in Uganda to improve the environment of the teaching of French.
“So we have invited teachers of French from tertiary institutions who teach French for technicians, hotel and catering, tourism, mechanics all these that fall under Uganda Business and Technical Examinations Board – UBTEB.”
“For a long time, these people have not fallen under the ministry of education or ministry of science or any other ministry. So they’ve been there teaching without inspection, without refreshing, without guidance. So like other fields, French has also changed because technology is changing. So that’s why we need to work with these teachers to make them up to date so that they can teach French which is relevant and competency-based,” she said.
Prof. Natukunda called on the government to provide special materials and invest in recruiting the teachers.
“Government should officially take on the teaching of French,” she said.
Officiating at the workshop, Dr. Wilfred Nahamya, the deputy UBTEB Executive Secretary re-echoed that, “so long as you want to promote the tourist sector, French is very key.”
He promised to table all the challenges before his bosses for further discussions.
He, however, said that as UBTEB, they already created a unit of special needs with staff, and “we’re no longer only giving them extra hours but we now give them people to assist.”
“We normally liaise with the Kyambogo University department of special needs to get some lecturers who assist us.”
Nahamya also promised that they are going to involve a number of these instructors in process of setting French exams and marking.
The trainees hope for improvement since their challenges have been shared with the officers concerned