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NCDC Tutor Training Flops Over Poor Accommodation :: Uganda Radionetwork

NCDC Tutor Training Flops Over Poor Accommodation

There was uncertainty when many of the tutors questioned the nature of the training. The absence of a designated point of contact upon arrival only deepened their frustrations.
27 Nov 2023 18:35
National Curriculum Development Centre (NCDC) Director, Grace Baguma before parliament's Education Committee.

Audio 5

A National Curriculum Development Centre training session came to an unexpected halt on Monday after a group of Center Coordinating Tutors raised concerns about inadequate accommodation and unclear communication from the organizers.

The Center Coordinating Tutors CTTs had been selected to undergo specialized training as master trainers for educating other tutors and teachers in primary and secondary schools in identifying and teaching learners with Autism, Gifted and Talented abilities, and specific learning difficulties.

The tutors from across the country arrived in Kampala on Sunday, with some heading directly to Kololo Secondary School, the venue for the training.

However, there was uncertainty when many of the tutors questioned the nature of the training. The absence of a designated point of contact upon arrival only deepened their frustrations.

"The letter they sent was vague. It didn't clarify whether the training would be residential or not. Many people came guessing. To make matters worse, there was nobody to receive us. It was as if they were not expecting us. What we went through at night was tough," one of the tutors complained.

CCTs are outreach tutors responsible for providing continuous professional development (CPD) for headteachers and teaching staff in about 50 primary schools linked with the coordinating centers that act as their base.

The tutors insisted that the training would not commence until NCDC officials clarified crucial details such as the residential nature of the training and the amount allocated for their out-of-pocket allowances among other issues.

During the discussion, tutors also opposed the proposal of sleeping in open dormitories. 

Saulo  Timweboneire, the CCT from Bishop Stuart Core PTC who is also one of their coordinators, emphasized that as older individuals, they were entitled to privacy and should not be subjected to sleeping arrangements of this nature. 

Timweboneire pointed out that the provided bedding and mattresses were substandard and emitting unpleasant odors, which is dehumanizing.

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A visibly frustrated NCDC official declared that those willing to stay could do so, while those unwilling were free to leave, which some tutors perceived as a threat. 

The official's remark became the decisive factor, prompting the tutor to assert that the training would not commence under the current circumstances.

When Grace Baguma, the NCDC Director, arrived at the venue, the tutors warmly welcomed her and requested an opportunity to express their grievances.

Timweboneire conveyed their concerns expressing gratitude for the long-overdue training on special needs while firmly stating their inability to tolerate ill-treatment during the training.  The coordinator presented their grievances, seeking understanding and resolution on the matter.

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Additionally, the tutors reminded Baguma that instances of disorganization were not uncommon, citing past incidents where NCDC had failed to provide the promised facilitation in advance.

They tasked the director to commit to ensuring that the funds would be given before their departure on Friday, and they emphasized the importance of addressing these recurring challenges.

Goefrey Mfitimukiza, tutor from Kabale-Bukinda Core PTC suggested that instead of paying the school for accommodation, the funds should be given to them to secure better lodging facilities nearby. Additionally, they disclosed that upon arrival in the evening, those in charge of accommodation facilities were requesting them to pay 20,000 Shillings. 

Baguma apologized to the tutors and acknowledged the shortcomings in the communication conveyed through the invitation letters. However, she expressed surprise at the focus of the tutors' concerns, noting that the majority revolved around financial matters rather than the core objective of special needs education that had brought them together.

Addressing the financial aspect, Baguma informed the tutors that they were initially allocated an out-of-pocket allowance of 30,000 Shillings. However, this amount was rejected by the funders. Despite this setback, the center engaged with the Ministry of Education, which managed to secure some government funds to facilitate the tutors. She urged them to appreciate the effort made in securing additional funds.

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Regarding accommodation, the director emphasized that Kololo SS had been designated as an official in-service training center for the Ministry of Education. Over the years, numerous cohorts had undergone training at the location without any previous complaints. 

Baguma expressed confusion as to why this particular group sought different treatment, highlighting the historical success of the training facility. 

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Sarah  Ayesiga, the Assistant Commissioner Inclusive and Non-Formal Ministry of Education and Sports, urged tutors to accept the situation and continue training. Stressing the training's substance over financial concerns, she emphasized that money issues should not overshadow the program's essence.

Ayesiga reminded the tutors of the new teacher policy mandating continuous professional development (CPD) and encouraged them to approach this training accordingly. She also informed tutors that future CPD sessions might require financial contributions instead of an out-of-pocket allowance. 

Ayesiga encouraged them to see the current training as integral to their professional development, aligning with evolving education sector policies.

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In response, the tutors stressed that if NCDC lacked resources, they shouldn't have arranged the training. They proposed that the session could have been organized in a college since they have accommodation facilities.

The director left the meeting abruptly, promising to return within an hour to address accommodation concerns. There was deliberation on whether to proceed with the training. However, the tutors remained firm, insisting on the director's return before final decisions.

At 4:30 pm, the training had not started, and the director had not returned, leaving the situation unresolved. Tutors decided to return to their respective stations in protest.

Over the years, the NCDC has accumulated a wealth of materials on Special Needs Education. Unfortunately, a significant portion of these resources remains unused on shelves due to financial constraints. 

The NCDC recognizes that the lack of funds is the primary obstacle to disseminating these valuable materials, including an adapted syllabus for special needs education and a comprehensive guide to Ugandan sign language among others. 

Despite the wealth of knowledge in these resources, financial limitations hinder the effective sharing of these educational tools with the intended audience, limiting their potential impact.