Warning: Trying to access array offset on value of type bool in /usr/www/users/urnnet/a/story.php on line 43 Community-Led Learning Proves Ability to Improve Lower Primary Learning Outcomes :: Uganda Radionetwork
Dr. Mary Gorreti Nakabugo, an education expert at Uwezo Uganda, also emphasizes the critical importance of early lower primary education in shaping learners’ futures, yet it has been neglected for too long. She underscores that enhancing literacy and numeracy outcomes in the early stages of learning can truly revolutionize the entire education system.
Alice Namuwaya, a mother of a
twelve-year-old girl, found herself in a confusing situation when she attempted
to enroll her daughter, who had been living with her grandmother in Kamuli
district, in a school in Masulita sub-county, Wakiso district. Much to her
dismay, she discovered that her daughter was advised to repeat lower classes.
"She should be in primary
six by now, but it broke my heart that she couldn't answer questions meant for
primary three children. Basic addition is a challenge for her, and
multiplication is even more daunting. Ironically, her younger sister, is ten
years old and already in primary five, and she's doing much better,"
Namuwaya lamented during an interview with our reporter.
Namuwaya's story reflects a
larger issue within the country's education system where many students are in
school, but assessments reveal that they may not be making meaningful progress.
This problem is worsened when comparing urban and rural areas, as well as the
disparities between affluent and underprivileged children.
According to the 2022 survey
conducted by Uwezo Uganda in its ninth National Learning Assessment Report
titled "Are Our Children Learning?" a staggering 50.7 percent of
primary three students could not even identify the letters of the alphabet, categorizing
them as non-readers. Furthermore, 31.3 percent of the same group of learners
struggled with basic numeracy tasks.
Cunningham, education expert and technical director at Strengthening Education
Systems for Improved Learning (SESIL) program, perceives
this as an educational crisis, emphasizing that a significant part of the
problem lies in the fact that the public becomes aware of the challenge far too
late using Primary Leaving Examinations (PLE) as a gauge. "By the time we reach PLE,
it's already too late. It's very late. The crucial foundation should be
established much earlier," stated the British education expert during a
conference held in Kampala.
Dr. Mary Gorreti Nakabugo, an
education expert at Uwezo Uganda, also emphasizes the critical importance of
early lower primary education in shaping learners’ futures, yet it has been
neglected for too long. She underscores that enhancing literacy and numeracy
outcomes in the early stages of learning can truly revolutionize the entire
in; “If you don’t...
out...or higher education.”//
The dire state of lower primary
education learning outcomes has been a recurring issue, with various reports, including
those conducted by the Ministry of Education and its affiliated agencies,
highlighting the problem year after year. The question which has remained
unanswered is, what is the solution?
In 2018, in response to this
pressing question, the Ministry of Education, in collaboration with its
partners, launched the Strengthening Education Systems for Improved Learning
(SESIL) program. This initiative aimed to enhance the quality and equity of
measurable learning outcomes in lower primary education.
Funded to the tune of 27.4 million
by the UKAid, SESIL focused on initiatives that involved supporting
community-led learning. The program was rolled out across 15 districts,
spanning from West Nile to Bugisu and Bukedi regions reaching 340,000
Laura Garforth, team leader,
that the program set out community-led learning approaches where they
supported volunteers to teach basic literacy and numeracy to lower primary
learners. “After five, results are
speaking volumes, CLL (community-led learning) works at scale to improve
foundational learning; 44 percent improved literacy and 69 percent numeracy,”
she says adding that if scaled up the initiative has the potential to improve the
According to the available data
collected before, during, and after the program, it is evident that 86 percent
of the learners who enrolled in the program had no prior ability to read any
syllables or words, while 20 percent lacked basic numerical skills.
Configuration of the Initiative
In areas where there were no
schools or where schools were located at a considerable distance from the
communities, the project working with the communities and parents established
small learning centers in homes and identified communal locations, with a
collection of around 25 children attending.
Volunteer teachers, often senior
four-leavers, were provided with crash courses on how to instruct the learners
and were equipped with textbooks to guide their teaching. This approach was
also utilized and came in handy during the periods of school closures resulting
from the COVID-19 pandemic.
In areas where formal schools
were available, these centers served as meeting spaces where learners could
gather for a few hours on weekends and holidays to participate in remedial
Who covers the volunteers'
expenses? The responsibility lies with the community and parents to identify
volunteers and find ways to compensate them.
But, Garforth suggests that if the
government were to adopt this approach, it would require a budget of 24,000 per
child every three months. But, this amount exceeds the annual government
expenditure on primary school learners, which is set at 17,000 per year.
Cleophas Mugyenyi, who serves as
the Commissioner of Basic Education at the Ministry of Education, acknowledges
through SESIL, they have obtained evidence that community-led learning can go
far beyond enhanced numeracy and literacy but has also engaged the community
and parents in their children's education. He encourages local governments to
take the lead in championing similar initiatives in their respective areas.
in; “SESIL has not...
out...they are all learning.”//
Recognizing the success of
community-driven education, both communities and local governments where it has
been tested are exploring ways to sustain this initiative. Despite the
conclusion of the funded project, certain local entities have independently supported
this effort, benefitting over 8,000 children.
To illustrate, Michael Mali, the
Education Officer for the Moyo District, expresses his appreciation for
community-led learning. He mentions that they are currently in the process of
developing a by-law which, among other provisions, will establish Village
Education Committees responsible for ensuring the continued implementation of
community-led learning in their respective areas.
However, the lingering question
remains: will this initiative still be in place five or ten years from now?
Although the officials at the
education ministry and in local government appeared to be impressed by this UK-funded project, it's important to note that the community-led learning model
for young children has been in practice in various regions of the country for
quite some time, without government support.
This informal model has been
informally adopted in many rural areas, where children could be assembled in specific
locations for an individual to provide them with basic literacy and numeracy
skills. In fact, several nursery schools trace their existence to such an
Regardless of whether it's an
old or new concept, Dr. Nakabugo suggests that as the government explores ways
to ensure universal access to education and deliver quality education, which
can be costly and long-term, community-led learning, even with just
mobilization support, can have a significant impact.