Kalungu, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Education authorities in Kalungu district have resolved to use megaphones also known as Bizindalo to reach out to learners because of the COVID19 lock down.
David Bbaale, the Kalungu District Education Officer, says whereas the mainstream broadcasting platforms including television and radio stations are doing their best to keep learners engaged during the lock down, learners in less privileged homes in rural areas are being left out.
Bbaale notes that they have explored all the available alternatives and resolved that open-air broadcasting is the only viable option at their disposal.
They have selected teachers who will be instructing learners in public megaphones, which are spread in every township.
Bbaale says they have so far selected 100 teachers from different schools and they are currently developing content that they will use to instruct learners. Although the district has resolved to use megaphones, it is unclear how effective the approach will be.
The other challenge is the limited coverage of the megaphones, which cover a limited area. However, Bbaale argues that a bird in the hand is better than none. He lists one of the biggest challenges they anticipate as concentration of learners when the lessons begin since they are distance away from the teachers. He appeals to parents to ensure they prepare their children and guide them so as to benefit from the classes.
The National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) and Uganda Communication Commission, which has earlier on banned the use of megaphones for noise pollution and operating illegally respectively, have since okayed their use to sensitise the community on the Covid19 pandemic.
To ensure the learners continue studying, the Education and Sports Ministry was expected to develop a standardized self-study lesson packages with guidance from the National Curriculum Development Centre-NCDC for primary and secondary education for distribution to learners.
However, the plan is yet to be realised. Dr. Grace Baguma, the Executive Director National Curriculum Development Centre notes that they working around the clock to produce the required materials amidst various challenges. She is optimistic that they will have issued the first batch of the materials to the National Covid19 Task Force by next week.
“We had a limited time. But we are working around the clock to make sure that these items are ready and thereafter we will handle them over to the task force for distribution,” says Dr. Baguma.
Dr. Tony Mukasa Lusambu, , the Commissioner Basic Education, says the Ministry has been challenged with lack of logistical support including finances to prepare, print and distribute the material more so to rural areas where learners have limited access to alternatives like newspapers, radio, and TV, which are covering the vacuum.
Lusambu says that as soon as the material is availed they will use a similar system used to distribute food to send out the materials or deliver it through Resident District Commissioners and Education Officers who will then pass it over to Head teachers in their areas.