By Yasiri J. Kasango
Uganda Christian University (UCU) has been engaged in outreaches to address community education challenges. One of the latest was led by the university’s Faculty of Education and Arts, which conducted a seminar on online learning.
Members of the faculty showed parishioners of a church in Bweyogerere, near Kampala, ways of using the internet as a tool for education.
The UCU team, led by the faculty dean, the Rev. Dr, Can. Olivia Nassaka Banja, equipped parents at St. Luke Church of Uganda with skills on how to access some of the freely available online learning materials.
Some private schools have been conducting online studies since the Ugandan government closed education institutions as one of the preventive measures to reduce the number of coronavirus infections in the country. However, government barred public schools from conducting online studies, arguing that such a move would disenfranchise learners who did not have access to computers or the internet. Instead, government distributed education materials to learners throughout the country and encouraged teachers to conduct studies through radio.
At the end of December 2021, some learners had not stepped into school since the first lockdown in March 2020.
The main facilitator at the seminar at St. Luke Church of Uganda, Patrick Lugemwa, a lecturer in the faculty, showed parents the different sites with free reading materials for children. He also showed the parents how to easily access the learning materials. Lugemwa noted that there are many good sites that provide free reading materials and video classes for children.
Some of the sites that he shared with the parents were https://etutoring.gayazahs.sc.ug/, https://examuganda.com/ and https://e-learning.education.go.ug/en/learn/#/topics
“However, before allowing your children to access any site, you must visit them yourself, to protect the young ones from accessing unwanted literature, such as pornography,” Lugemwa cautioned, emphasizing that the internet can be both useful and destructive.
He also introduced parents to an app, Family Link, which can regulate the amount of time a child spends on the phone, as well as the type of content they can access. The app is available on Google Play Store and Apple Store.
UCU has been championing online learning in the wake of the Covid-19-related lockdown on in-person learning in Uganda. Outreaches like these are a direct response to the appeal made by Uganda’s First Lady and education minister, Mrs. Janet Museveni, during UCU’s 22nd graduation ceremony on October 22, 2021.
Mrs. Museveni, who was the guest of honour at the graduation ceremony, said she was impressed by UCU’s “robust online education program” and encouraged the university to share best practices with other institutions.
In December 2021, the university’s e-learning department hosted leaders from Greenhill Academy, a group of Christian-founded primary and secondary schools in Kampala, for a virtual learning seminar to understand more about the university’s e-learning facilities.
The community of St Luke Church of Uganda commended UCU for the outreach, especially at a time when many parents were preparing their children to resume school on January 10, 2022.
The Rev. Abraham Muyinda Nsubuga, the Vicar of St Luke Church, encouraged parents to embrace online learning so that their children can progress with their studies since it is not clear when the world would overcome the Covid-19 pandemic.
Patrick Kisiibo, one of the parents, said his child had not had a chance to access any reading material during the lockdown, noting that UCU’s intervention was timely.
“I didn’t know that there are free books and video classes online,” Kisiibo said. “I can now go back home and ably guide my child on how to utilize online learning tools.