Makerere University is taking the lead to ensure that quality education remains a priority as the country grapples with the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Makerere University through the College of Education and External Studies took keen interest in the topical debate that education will never be or mean the same after the Covid-19 pandemic that disrupted the education system with schools closed to safeguard the lives of learners and teachers.
“No one knows how many of the estimated 500,617 teachers in both government and private schools will return to class and in what form,” Dr. Mathias Mulumba, the Dean, School of Education said, during the press briefing.
In Uganda, the school system was disrupted for close to two years and different actors have expressed the need for the country to rise to the COVID-19 challenges and continue to provide quality education.
To address this critical issue, CEES and the Ministry of Education and Sports have organized the National Stakeholders’ symposium on Covid-19 and Education to analyze and discuss key issues and innovations that can keep the quality of education afloat during and after the pandemic.
The National Stakeholders’ Symposium slated for 24thto 26th November 2021 at the Imperial Royale Hotel, Kampala will provide a platform to stakeholders and actors to dialogue and provide solutions under the theme, “Getting back a right to quality education during and after the Covid-19 pandemic.” The First Lady and Minister of Education and Sports, Hon. Janet Kataaha Museveni will grace the National Stakeholders’ Symposium.
Addressing journalists during a press conference held on Friday 12th November 2021 at Makerere University, Dr. Mathias Mulumba, Dean of the School of Education highlighted that the key stakeholders to participate in this discussion include school administrators at all levels, private and public players, agencies and the academia. The symposium will also involve other partners namely The World Bank, USAID, UNICEF, and Raising Voices among others.
Dr. Mulumba expressed concern that some of the challenges that the learners were exposed to were more likely to result in loss of interest in learning. He pointed out teenage pregnancies, domestic violence and the uncertainty of what classes the learners would join when schools re-open.
Similarly, teachers as he further explained have adopted to businesses outside the profession for survival which may cause some to drop out of their professional practice.
On behalf of the Ministry of Education and Sports, Mr. Timothy Ssejoba-Principal Education Officer in charge of University Education pointed out that the National Stakeholders’ Symposium will lead to the formulation of the National Participatory Consolidated Plan of Action on Covid-19 and Education.
Mr. Ssejoba also underscored the policy direction that requires all teachers to attain a degree in education over the next 10 years. “This is aimed at professionalizing the education sector. We would like the teachers to upgrade, acquire more skills and knowledge and also to be in tandem with the trends in the education sector.”
Also present at the press conference were Dr. Muhammad Kiggundu Musoke Head Department of Humanities and Language Education, Dr. Rebecca Nambi Member of Staff Department of Humanities and Language Education, Dr. John Sentongo-Head of Science, Technical and Vocational Education, Dr. Charles Kyasanku National Coordinator Working Groups and Ms. Ritah Namisango Principal PRO Makerere University.
Education and Covid-19 Symposium: Govt. Pledges Support to Schools
The Ministry of Education and Sports is to offer some interventions to schools ahead of their re-opening in 2022. The Minister, in her speech delivered by the Chairperson of the Makerere University Council, Mrs. Lorna Magara, said the ministry would repair schools, review the school curriculum for recovery of lost time, orientation of teachers and students, promotion of safe and healthy learning environments through psychosocial support. The government also pledged to provide additional infrastructure to cater for the increased enrolment at primary one.
The Minister, Hon. Janet Museveni, was speaking during the opening of the symposium on Education and Covid-19. The symposium was organized by the College of Education and External Studies (CEES) in partnership the Ministry of Education and other development partners.
The symposium is the first of its kind to bring together major stakeholders in the education sector to deliberate on the impact of Covid-19 on education and come up with strategies that would take us through the pandemic and beyond. The outcomes of the discussions will result in the formation of a National Participatory Consolidated Plan of Action on Covid-19 and Education.
The First Lady in her speech noted that while people were anxious about the prolonged closure of schools, the risk associated with the hurried reopening especially of pre-primary, primary and secondary schools outweigh the benefits. Mr. Timothy Ssejjoba from the Ministry of Education said the Ministry was training school head teachers to prepare them for opening and ensuring they have enough information on Covid-19 and how to help the students. Mr. Ssejjoba said the Ministry may not completely do away with Distance and e-learning among schools until we have completely done away with the pandemic. This he said is to ensure safety of students.
Makerere University on its part has heavily invested in e-learning infrastructure. Ms. Magara said “the university council has strongly supported initiatives for building the adaptability of university systems and processes to the challenges presented by Covid-19.”
The university recently successfully held it first online examinations. It is envisioned that this mode of examination will continue amidst the pandemic. The Vice Chancellor, Prof. Barnabas Nawangwe, thanked the government for its continued support towards e-learning infrastructure especially though funding to the Research and Innovations fund of the university.
Participants called on the government to invest in teacher education because the quality of education depends on the quality of its teachers. “No country can develop when its education system is limping,” Dr. Mathias Mulumba, the Dean of the School of Education said. “The quality of a country’s education system determines the pace at which other sectors such as health, technology and others develop.”
The occasion was also graced by the Ambassador of Ireland, H.E Kevin Colgan. He thanked Makerere University and the Ministry of Education for organizing the symposium which gives people an opportunity to brainstorm on how to better the education system, address psychosocial impacts of the pandemic and school dropouts. He noted that there was an increase in teenage pregnancies and cautioned that we all must do more to realise the universal right to education.
The Principal of CEES, represented by Dr. Okot Alex, called on staff of Makerere University to play a pivotal role in training the human resource of the country. “Covid-19 has forced us to prepare for the unknown. We want to prepare our educators to be ready to manage the unknown,” Dr. Okot said. The principal called for collaboration, saying we don’t need to reinvent the wheel, sometimes we just have to collaborate and find solutions to community challenges.
The principal informed participants that CEES had established a good distance and e-learning platform to spearhead alternative modes of teaching. The Institute of Distance and e-learning has developed MUELE, on online teaching and learning platform that the university fully embraced during the pandemic.
He appreciated the management of the university for the support given to the college and the Ministry of Education and Sports for the support given during the planning and execution of the symposium.
The symposium was supported by the Embassy of Ireland, UNICEF, Uwezo, Action, CRANE and Link Partners among others.
Betty Kyakuwa is the Principal Communication Officer CEES
CEES Launches Teacher Education Project to Offer Masters & PhD Scholarships
The College of Education and External Studies (CEES) today 10th November 2021 launched the teacher education project, a project intended to support the implementation of the National Teacher Policy. The project, is a collaboration between Makerere University, Kyambogo University, Uganda National Institute of Teacher Education and University of Bergen.
The project, Capacity Building for Research-Based Teacher Education (CABUTE), will offer 16 masters scholarships, 8 PhD scholarships, 4 post-doctoral fellowships for researchers in the field of teacher education. The project will also put in place infrastructure for training of music education teachers, mathematics education, English Language Education and the foundations of education. The Principal Investigator and Deputy Principal of CEES, Assoc. Prof. Paul Birevu Muyinda, said each of the partner institutions will also benefit from infrastructure development.
The college Principal, Prof. Fred Masagazi Masaazi, expressed the university’s willingness to support the implementation of the National Teacher policy and ensure that the country gets quality teacher and teacher educators. He thanked the Vice Chancellor and the university management for the continued support towards research.
Speaking at the launch of the project, the Minister of State for Higher Education, Hon. J.C Muyingo, challenged the researchers to find solutions to the issues affecting the education sector.
He said a comprehensive study supported by UNESCO on teacher issues in Uganda in 2014 had identified a number of teacher issues affecting the quality of education in Uganda, saying, a conference of this kind can go a long way in creating an opportunity for presenting and ably discussing evidence-based solutions to some of the challenges the education sector in the region is facing.
The National Teacher Policy has proposed several key policy shifts as listed:
- The minimum entry qualification to teacher training is Senior Six or its equivalent. The implication is that there will be no more admission of S.4 leavers to Teacher Training Courses. Implementation starts in 2021.
- Pre-entry assessment of prospective teachers will be undertaken by Teacher Training Institutions to assess their attitudes and commitment to teacher training and to the profession.
- Minimum qualification for teaching at all levels of education (pre-primary, primary, secondary, tertiary) is a Bachelor’s Degree in Education. This means that all current teachers and teacher educators need to upgrade within a period of 10 years of transition provided for in the policy, and also all curricular have to be upgraded.
- All teachers will be adequately equipped with 21st century skills such as effective communication, problem-solving skills, critical thinking, collaboration and digital literacy skills, among others.
- The Bachelor’s Degree shall last four years. Three years at the teacher training colleges, and the 4th year shall be dedicated to internship.
- All teachers who meet the requirements of the profession will be enrolled on the Roll of Teachers to practice by the National Teacher Council.
- Continuous professional development is to become compulsory.
- All heads of education institutions shall undertake compulsory training in educational leadership and management.
- The policy provides for specialization in three career pathways, namely: Teaching, management, and specialist (curriculum, inspection, etc.) after the basic training as a graduate teacher.
- Teacher remuneration and incentives will be progressively addressed to ensure teachers are motivated, their professional image boosted, their working environment improved, and they have clear career prospects.
To this end, the CABUTE project will facilitate the implementation of the National Teacher Policy by strengthen the quality of post graduate training at Masters and PhD levels, increase the competence and capacity of higher education faculty and teacher educators, improve institutional small-scale infrastructure and equipment and improve gender equality and inclusion of marginalized groups in teacher education and research, among others.
The Principal Investigator of CABUTE in Norway, Prof. Steiner Saetre, said the project will focus on four subjects; English language, Mathematics, Music and General Education. “We will invest in infrastructure development, inform of digital tools for distance learning,” he said. He said CABUTE will support staff from Norway and Uganda to collaborate on research projects and co-write with each other. He is hopeful that the research to be undertaken will address the challenges that the education sector is facing.
Education Minister Expresses Readiness to use Scientific Findings to Revive Sector
The First Lady and Minister of Education and Sports, Hon. Janet Kataaha Museveni while presiding over the Makerere University Research and Innovations Fund (Mak-RIF) College of Education and External Studies (CEES) Open Day has expressed Government’s and her Ministry’s preparedness to learn from the scientific evidence generated by research and innovations to guide the sector’s recovery from the effects of COVID-19.
The Open Day held physically in the Central Teaching Facility 1 (CTF1) and streamed online to a virtual audience on 7th October 2021 was based on the theme “Education Research for Sustainable Development”. It was graced by the Chairperson of Council Mrs. Lorna Magara, Vice Chancellor Prof. Barnabas Nawangwe, Chairperson Mak-RIF Grants Management Committee (GMC) Prof. William Bazeyo, University Secretary Mr. Yusuf Kiranda, Principal CEES Prof. Fred Masagazi Masaazi, Deputy Principal CEES Assoc. Prof. Paul Birevu Muyinda, Staff as well as Students.
“The Government is committed to supporting research and innovations in Universities, as you really now know, to provide high quality data to inform policy decisions. I want to encourage you to prioritise projects that are crucial to social and economic transformation” remarked the Honourable Minister.
She particularly took note of the “Inter-disciplinary Enhancement of Science Education in the Uganda Primary Thematic Curriculum” project as timely. The project among other objectives sought to appraise the importance of folklore in the teaching and learning of science in lower primary education.
“I think it is time that we find a way to bring out those issues in science that make sense to each child at a primary level in their mother tongue. That is when science will make sense to us and we will become transformational” urged the First Lady.
She lauded the researchers and University for the individual and institutional efforts to support the Education sector’s development and review of curricula at various levels, development of a National Teacher Policy as well as the Early Childhood Development Framework. She equally acknowledged Makerere’s support to the establishment of the Uganda National Institute of Teacher Education as well as to the ongoing development of the Digital Agenda of the Education and Sports sector.
“The Ministry appreciates all these contributions and I call upon you to continue supporting the Ministry in all possible ways – you must understand that a strong Ministry of Education is a strong sector of National Education throughout the country” she said.
The Minister commended the Mak-RIF GMC for identifying projects with the capacity to influence national development, noting that “the showcase projects are testimony that the funds are being properly utilised and it is my prayer that universities continue to do more and indeed live the purpose for which they exist as knowledge hubs for development.”
She applauded the University Council and Management for the efforts to support continuity of learning for students, and urged all in attendance to join hands and mobilize staff and students to get vaccinated in preparation for the reopening of tertiary institutions on 1st November using a staggered approach.
The seven presentations by CEES at the dissemination included;
- Investing in Data and Research to Inform Education Policy by Prof. Anthony M. Mugagga,
- Resilient Communities for Quality Primary Education in Uganda (ReCoPE) by Mr. Philemon Mukisa & Mrs. Alice Nankya Ndidde,
- Enhancing Continued Learning to Rural Contexts during the COVID-19 Lockdown: Case of Kyotera District Rural Contexts by Dr. Tom D. Balojja,
- Mapping Makerere University’s Capacity to Mainstream e-Learning in University Education by Dr. Michael Walimbwa,
- Pedagogical Leadership for Academic Staff in Higher Education Institutions to Enhance Graduate Work Readiness and Transition to work (PLASHE-WILL) by Dr. Ronald Bisaso,
- Using Blended Learning to Fast Track Capacity Development for Teachers Implementing the Lower Secondary School Curriculum (BL4CD) by Dr. Paul Birevu Muyinda and
- Inter-disciplinary Enhancement of Science Education in the Uganda Primary Thematic Curriculum by Dr. Henry Busulwa.
The Chairperson of Council Mrs. Lorna Magara in her remarks welcomed the First Lady to CEES her college where she is a treasured alumna, and thanked her for the charismatic leadership of Uganda’s Education sector during the COVID-19 pandemic.
She noted that the Open Day had been made possible with generous support from Government to Research and Innovations at Makerere University to the tune of UGX 30 Billion annually and on behalf of the University leadership sincerely appreciated the gesture.
“The College of Education and External Studies has been a centre of excellence in pedagogy since the founding of the School of Education. Presently we have challenged the college to deliver research and innovations that prepare responsive professionals for the emerging realities in teaching and learning including globalization and technology and the COVID-19 situation and I can say that they have responded well” remarked Mrs. Magara.
The Chairperson of Council added that Makerere has relied on CEES for leadership through the Institute of Open, Distance and e-Learning (IODeL) to deliver the blended learning model, which enabled teaching and student assessment to continue during the COVID-19 lockdown.
The Vice Chancellor Prof. Barnabas Nawangwe in his remarks prior to the Chairperson’s welcomed the First Lady and Honourable Minister “home” and sincerely thanked her for the support in obtaining Cabinet approval for funds to reconstruct the University’s iconic Main Building.
He noted that Makerere was already taking giant steps one year into implementing her ten year strategic plan aimed at making her a research-led University, thanks to the generous support from the Government of Uganda through Mak-RIF and the Presidential Scientific Initiative on Epidemics (PRESIDE).
“The two interventions by Government have enabled us to improve our research infrastructure and avail funds to our researchers. Practically every College, School and Department is now engaged in research and development activities” appreciated Prof. Nawangwe.
The Vice Chancellor acknowledged the central role played by CEES in enabling the University to continue conducting teaching and assessment despite the challenges posed by COVID-19. “We are happy to share the expertise developed at Makerere with our sister universities in Uganda.”
He added that the seven research projects presented at the Open Day were proof of Makerere’s enormous capacity to find solutions to the challenges that face Uganda’s Education system right from Pre-Primary to Universities, especially in the wake of COVID-19. The Vice Chancellor renewed the University’s call to Government to fund graduate student education, noting that this would help the country to develop faster.
“Honourable Minister, Makerere is ready to support you in your enormous task of enabling recovery of the Education sector from the effects of COVID-19, and I would like to believe that the presentations that you have listened to and seen are testimony to that readiness” affirmed the Vice Chancellor.
Speaking on behalf of the Mak-RIF GMC, the Chairperson Prof. William Bazeyo paid tribute to Hon. Janet Museveni for being that Minister of Education and Sports that inspired Makerere to become a research-led University. “We responded to your call and here we are to show the fruits of what you inspired us to do and we sincerely thank you.”
He thanked the Chairperson of Council for embracing the Minister’s vision for Makerere University to become research-led and the Vice Chancellor for taking up the mantle. “Getting Makerere to have this research and come up with findings that help Government and respond to national development goals is not easy and I want to thank you Professor Nawangwe.”
Prof. Bazeyo equally paid tribute to the College Principals and researchers for coming up with projects that will impact the Ugandan society saying, “I want to thank my colleagues and congratulate the Principal and your team for the great job done.”
On this note, he was pleased to inform the Honourable Minister that findings from one of the projects “Enhancing Continued Learning to Rural Contexts during the COVID-19 Lockdown: Case of Kyotera District Rural Contexts” revealed that the greatest impact on teaching and learning during the COVID-19 lockdown had been as a result of the teaching materials whose distribution she strongly advocated for.
“And now we have evidence to show that what the Ministry (of Education and Sports) did was the right thing” added Prof. Bazeyo.
The Principal Prof. Fred Masagazi Masaazi in his address thanked the First Lady and Minister for accepting the invitation to grace the Open Day. “This is an important day in many ways; first, we are proving our capacity as a College in contributing to National Development through posing questions on Education issues and providing answers to some.”
He added that as Makerere University marks 100 years of service and contribution to the world, CEES had commenced her celebrations with the Open Day, and preparations were underway to host a reunion day for the College’s alumni adding, “We are hopeful that our Chief Guest will join us.”
Prof. Masagazi Masaazi shared that their research findings had indicated that the education sector was not likely to go back to the pre-COVID-19 school setting, but was well primed for change through innovative re-imagination. He cited curriculum, instructional materials, assessment, teacher preparation, retooling of teachers, leadership, and leadership development as some of the areas that would need to be innovatively re-imagined.
The Principal pledged his college’s commitment to continue providing innovative education solutions through the establishment of the Makerere University Institute of Teacher Education Research, “which will mainstream and further institutionalize cutting-edge research on teacher education in Uganda and beyond.”
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