The Education Ministry in Uganda has put in tremendous effort to see that every child tastes the sweetness of education right from the early stages up to the highest level of education. This has done through implementing Universal Primary/Secondary Education in the country, providing scholastic materials to some schools at subsidized prices and equipping the schools with qualified teachers and instructors.
Although the ministry has done all that, there are still gaps in the learning process particularly in primary schools from rural areas. This is because of the limited resources like adequate remuneration for teachers, poor structures where children in some schools study under trees among others that lead to children dropping out of school or falling behind while still in the early grades of early grades of primary school.
Amidst all this, there are some individuals in the communities that struggle with limited resources and facilities that defy these unfortunate odds using unique behaviours and practices to successfully overcome their challenges.
Twaweza Uganda calls this approach Positive Deviance, where “Positive Deviants” solve complex social problems without using extra resources that may not be available.
This Positive Deviance approach has been launched today August 27, 2019 by Twaweza Uganda and their partners in presence of commissioners from the Ministry of Education and sports, members from civil society and media.
In particular, Positive Deviance approach identified six strategies used by schools and teachers who have under difficult circumstances managed to improve children’s learning achievements. These include;
- Community involvement in schools
Ms Kristine Sullivan, the Country Director of Elevate Education encouraged schools to continuously involve every stakeholder from the parents, leaders, children and the entire community in matters concerning children learning and everyone should play their part instead of finger-pointing.
- Effort, openness and achievement in schools.
Betty Apolot, a primary school Headteacher from Paliisa district said some of her achievements include emphasizing punctuality for learners and teachers by arriving first at school and leaving last.
“I also encouraged parents to contribute money for their children, and we now have meals provided. I also offered counselling and guidance for teachers to help them cope up with the change I had introduced,” she added.
- Ensuring children achieve mastery in schools
To realise this, schools have introduced practices that target improvement of the teaching-learning process, development of learners’ capabilities to query and discover, and influencing parenting decisions that might impact children’s learning outside the school.
- Teacher support and motivation in schools.
The centrality of the teacher also emerges as a recurring theme in the school stories. It is clear that all key players in these school communities appreciate the need for teachers to be supported and motivated to perform and achieve. The school level support given to teachers in the study schools is predominantly focused on achieving continuous improvement in the quality of instruction in the classroom.
“Our teachers need to be recognised for their work. We encourage the DEOs to write letters of appraisal to best performing teachers, as well as supporting their work. This works as motivation to them,” Moses Wambi, Deputy Principal, Bishop Willis Core PTC.
- Proactive involvement of SMCs and PTAs in the schools.
“I hold regular meetings with School Management Committees (SMCs) and Parent-Teacher Associations (PTAs) to talk about the progress of the school and through his, we have managed to construct three classroom blocks in only one year,” said Kiirya Paul Bidhampola, Head Teacher of Bigunho Primary School while talking about this strategy.
- Teachers caring and prioritising learner needs.
This develops a positive teacher-learner relationship that fosters better learning.
Uganda National Teachers Association (UNATU) General Secretary Filbert Baguma said that now that we all know what has been going wrong in the education sector, stakeholders need to move on from lamentations to actions, and the time to act is now.