Ugandan govt launches national reading campaign in schools

Ugandan govt launches national reading campaign in schools
Minister John Muyingo (seated with glasses) and Heidi Soule (seated left), an education specialist from the American Embassy, engage pupils of Kasaala Girls PS in a reading session during the launch. Courtesy Photo

A national campaign to encourage parent’s help children learn to read in local dialects and English has been launched in Luweero district. The campaign dubbed let’s learn together aims at helping children to learn to read in early stages.

The campaign, supported by the Ministry of Education, the United States Agency for International Development and RTI International, will involve the donation of story cards and textbooks to children and mobilization of parents to help learners read them at home.

Sarah Mayanja, an officer at the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) explained that the campaign was piloted in 26 community schools in Mityana district, where results indicate that it’s effective in promoting literacy.

Mayanja noted that they want parents to take a lead in helping children to read, while at home.

Speaking at the launch of the campaign at Kasaala Girls Primary School, State Minister for Higher Education John Chrysostom Muyingo said that children with good reading background perform better in exams and asked parents to help them learn at early stages.

He added that the government has increased disbursement of books to learners in early stages, and mentored teachers to promote early learning. He was representing Education Minister Janet Museveni.

Florence Bbosa, the Luweero District Education Officer said the campaign was timely and added that failure to read was part of the reasons why the children were failing exams. She is optimistic that the campaign will boost the relationship between learners and parents.

However, the campaign has received mixed reactions from parents and teachers over its success.

Robert Kulabako the Chairperson of Luweero Private Schools Teachers’ Association says that its success will depend on sensitization of parents that their children need to learn local languages if they are to transit and grasp well the English language.

Kulabako also noted that reading materials were not enough in schools to support the campaign.

Yunus Muyomba, the head teacher of Nalongo Islamic Primary School says that some parents have withdrawn their children from government schools for teaching them in local languages because they want English as key language. Muyomba says there is need to change the mindset that learning must be in English.

Christine Kizza a parent at Kasaala Girls Primary School says that the campaign may fail because many of the parents don’t know how to read and write to help the children learn.

Rebecca Nulu and Salim Zimula all parents hinted on limited time given to children at home by parents as a key challenge to the campaign

According to assessment by UWEZO the absence of textbooks was still a major challenge to education in Uganda, drastically affecting literacy and numeracy skills among learners.