UNICEF invests in teachers for better pupil learning outcomes in literacy and numeracy

Pupils can now count, read and write

By Proscovia Nakibuuka Mbonye
education, Uganda
UNICEF Uganda/2019/Adriko
29 July 2019

In faraway Nakwakwa Primary School, Kotido District, Karamoja sub-region, pupils in lower primary – P1 to P3 are registering improvements in numeracy and literacy and can easily read, write and count. Thanks to the skills their teachers acquired from various trainings by Voluntary Services Overseas, UNICEF’s implementing partner, with funding from Irish Aid.

Previous National Assessment of Progress in Education Reports revealed that nearly 50 per cent of pupils in Karamoja sub-region who enrolled in primary one dropped out between primary one and primary three. In addition, many of those who transitioned to primary five could not read, write and count. This was attributed to unskilled teachers especially in lower primary to effectively teach numeracy and literacy. It was also partly due to limited numeracy and literacy books to support the lower grade teachers. This not only affected the pupils’ learning and performance in upper primary and secondary, but also led to high school dropout rates due to continuous poor performance thus affecting pupil motivation.

“Reading and writing is critical for pupils in lower primary because it supports learning in upper primary and beyond. If the pupils don’t grasp the concepts at this stage then they will not be able to comprehend later, stay and complete school,”

said Sambey Logira, UNICEF’s Education Specialist.

Teacher Akung Anetta, a beneficiary of the trainings has mastered the child centered methods of teaching and uses them effectively as she delivers literacy and numeracy lessons for primary one during the morning hours. The teaching style deployed is unique. Lessons are characterized with songs, dances, clapping and appreciation for pupils who answer questions. Pupils are all engaged, participating actively and helping each other to learn. Akung moves around the classroom to ensure all pupils are attentive and following what is being taught, while assessing their learning. The lessons are conducted in both English and the local language ‘Ngakarimojong’.

Locally made learning aides that range from charts, cards, stone aggregates, bottle tops, letters cut out of rubber materials, made by Akung are displayed all over the classroom and were being used to aide learning of the pupils. 

“I was taught that in all I do, from preparing my lessons, identifying methodologies to use for each lesson, I should put the child first. They must learn at the end of each lesson I deliver,”

Akung stresses.

UNICEF’s Logira also adds that the trainings focused on lower primary to ensure the pupils have a good start right from the beginning. “If children cannot write and read well, they get demotivated at a lower level and this accounts for a high dropout rate.” 

To date, a total of 1,415 teachers, deputy headteachers and headteachers from the 283 primary schools in the eight districts of the Karamoja sub-region have been trained in early grade reading including literacy and numeracy and equipped with unique skills to support the pupils to learn but also for headteachers and deputies to supervise the early grade teachers . 

The same style of teaching is employed in primary two and three and the teachers therein have also been trained. They appreciate the trainings because they introduced a variety of teaching methods, made lesson delivery easy and are proud to see their pupils learn how to count, read and write very easily.   

The UNICEF-supported training package included sensitization of teachers on the use of peer-to-peer learning; making and use of locally made learning aides; child participation and demonstration exercises, continuous assessment of pupils during lessons, provision of text books for every child and classroom arrangements that support access to every child by the teacher.

Achan Jennifer, a 9-year-old pupil in Primary two says she enjoys her classes because they use objects, to count and add. Achan can easily identify letters, write words, construct sentences and read out short stories infront of the class.
The programme that started in 2016 has since yielded results that have contributed to improvements in literacy and numeracy in Karamoja schools as highlighted in the recent National Assessment of Progress in Education Report. Thanks to the generous financial support from Irish Aid.

education, Uganda
UNICEF Uganda/2019/Adriko