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New Teaching Approach Brings Hope to Learners in Isingiro :: Uganda Radionetwork
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New Teaching Approach Brings Hope to Learners in Isingiro

The approach called Teaching at the Right Level-TaRL works by dividing children into groups based on learning needs rather than age or grade, dedicating time to basic skills rather than focusing solely on the curriculum, and regularly assessing student performance, rather than relying on end-of-year examinations.
A teacher at St Peters primay school-Kyoto in Isingiro district instruct one of the learners.

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Teachers in Isingiro district are adopting a new approach to manage the syllabus and handle learners according to their abilities and needs. Through this, learners achieve the desired competencies, and transit smoothly to further learning.  

The approach called Teaching at the Right Level-TaRL was introduced to the district by the United Nations Children's Fund-UNICEF, as one of its programmes to improve learning outcomes for refugee learners and hosting communities. The approach works by dividing children into groups based on learning needs rather than age or grade, dedicating time to basic skills rather than focusing solely on the curriculum, and regularly assessing student performance, rather than relying on end-of-year examinations.

Isingiro District is adopting the new approach at a time when many teachers across the country are still confused about how they are going to teach content designed for a whole year in less than 14 weeks and get the required learning outcomes before promoting learners to the next classes. 

Isingiro District Education Officer Godfrey Nkuba says that although the method was designed to accelerate the learning of over-aged learners in the refuge hosting communities, it came in handy as a better tool for recovering lost time and fast-tracking the syllabi as learners return to school. He adds that with this, learners who are returning to school after a very long holiday will be able to learn and progress to the next level. 

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Although the Ministry of Education has recommended accelerated learning, where a teacher teaches the fundamental content of the syllabus as the better option, the said approach is alien to many.  

Laeticia Natuhwera, a primary five English teacher notes that they have undergone two weeks of training on how to mould classroom instructions to a child's learning level focusing on basic skills away from the "Chalk and talks" lessons.  Through the method, Natuhwera adds, the teacher has to identify the different needs of each learner and address them while teaching.

However, in addition to this, they also put an hour per day to do remedial teaching focusing on small groups of learners.

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Vincent Ahimbisibwe, another teacher, says that as learners return to school, they will certainly be at different learning levels even though they are in the same class. However, Ahimbisibwe is optimistic that with the teaching at the right level approach all learners will be brought to equal footing.   

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Even before COVID-19, learners in Isingiro district, and several other refugee-hosting communities, have been having lower learning outcomes. The 2018 Uwezo assessment across refugee-hosting districts indicated that 33 per cent of primary three and five students are unable to read more than one out of five English words.  

Meanwhile, Pancratius Turyatunga, the headteacher of St Peters Primary School-Kyoto, says that in addition to the new teaching approach, they have also increased the learning time by adjusting the timetable to utilize teaching periods fixed for co-curricular activities and also teaching on weekends.  

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