How Rural East Africa’s Educators Uphold their Commitment to Education During a Global Pandemic
Nakimera Josephine (Jozy) is a young Ugandan woman who attended Asante Africa Foundation’s Leadership and Entrepreneurship Incubator Summit in Narok in 2018. She now works as the Deputy headteacher at Kamusenene C.O.U Secondary School and Bukuya Secondary School in Uganda. As the deputy headteacher, she serves as an assistant to the overall administration of all school programs and activities. On a typical day Jozy will conduct the day’s address to students and teachers, supervise the school’s general cleanliness and sanitation, monitor classroom arrangement and the entire school’s order, supervise teaching and learning processes in relation to the available work schedule, monitor departmental delegates like teacher-student welfare, and any other duties as assigned by the headteacher.
“My favorite thing about being a teacher is to mentor a holistic and dynamic student for self sustainability and reliance.”
When schools and communities began to shut down because of the COVID-19 health pandemic, it was a moment of absolute shock and a period of agony for everyone.
“The abrupt closure of schools created worries for teachers about syllabi coverage for candidates, fear of anticipated increase in girl-child school dropout rates, and decline in the general students’ performance. Students feared that they would have to repeat classes and that the school would never reopen and they would experience a loss of their livelihood.”
Responding to the Public Health Shut Down
Despite all of the difficulties that the COVID-19 global pandemic had created, Jozy says that both teachers and students overcame challenges and found solutions.
“Asante Africa provided learning materials for schools and encouraged parents to guide and counsel their children, especially girls who are the most vulnerable. They provided food and other supplies to improve households’ welfare. Students followed their parents’ guidelines and stayed up to date with the news through radios, TVs, and the local public address systems known as ‘mambo bado.'”
At the height of the shut down, teachers did their best to continue teaching during the COVID-19 global pandemic in whatever method they could to help students.
“Some teachers conducted lessons through television, but that is limited to those who could afford to own one. Many sent learning materials to their students on mobile phones, which is a useful alternative to other forms of more expensive technology.”
The Future of Teaching during the COVID-19 global pandemic
Now that schools have slowly started reopening, Josephine says that she and the other teachers are all adhering to the safety guidelines and closely following protocols.
“At this time local schools have only reopened classrooms for candidate classes such as Form 4 and 6. Teachers have implemented safety precautions such as revising the teacher-student ratio and creating classrooms out of larger spaces to ensure social distancing. For the other classes, the National Curriculum Planners are working to compress the amount of classroom materials for syllabus coverage to prevent any student from having to repeat a class level when they return.”
Regardless of the physical space of where teachers and students are, they are both upholding their commitment to education. Whether they are doing lessons electronically or recreating how they normally teach in the classroom, teachers are proving they can overcome challenges and teach during the COVID-19 global pandemic. Youth are resilient and education remains at the center of their livelihoods and future. Asante Africa stands with rural East Africa’s teachers and youth, supporting them so they are able to endure the hardships while continuing their education.
“Let me extend my sincere gratitude to Asante Africa Foundation for all the endeavors and support they have extended to us, especially during the trying time of COVID-19. Thank you for the humanity exhibited.”
Written by: Genevieve Chan