About a week ago, Daily Monitor, a local newspaper, cited a report indicating that 69 percent of primary 3 pupils in Northern Uganda couldn’t recite alphabetical letters even if they spent 30 minutes staring at them.
The distressing results of the study hence prompted RX Radio presenter Olive Najjuma to have an in-depth conversation with the Executive Director of Foundation for Inclusive Community Help (FICH), one of the non-governmental organizations that headed the survey, Mr. Emmy Zoomlamai Okello to understand why 69 children out of every 100 in the districts of Oyam, Kole Arua cannot read or write.
Speaking during the interview, Mr. Okello noted that although the children in lower primary were out of school for the longest time due to the Covid 19 induced lockdown, the study aimed at understanding the learning gaps at the foundational level by sampling three districts so that the children can get the intervention they need.
The research is done through a mixed analysis employing quantitative and qualitative methods and commenced on June 30, 2022. According to the research, Primary 3 pupils were unable to correctly recite letters and numbers despite the classes they were in. This he said was because of the prolonged lockdown or because the stakeholders weren’t performing their duties as need be.
“The primary stakeholders to promote the learning of our children are the parents themselves. The parents must take a keen interest in educating children for them to learn,” he told Olive during The Brunch Talk Saturday afternoon.
Adding, “Secondly, the structures existing in the community such as churches and similar groups need to promote child literacy (formally/ informally) to ensure that children learn from the different villages they come from."
He appealed to schools and their administration, and the local governments and relevant Ministries to do the same. But he emphasized that learning starts at home, and the need for parents to develop a keen interest in encouraging learning.
He said parents/guardians need to provide children with access to any form of study materials such as posters, story books, newspapers, or drawings to sharpen their cognitive skills and motivate them to learn.
“These are the gaps we need to address from the grassroots, and now is the right time for individuals to start taking interest in enhancing children’s learning. The church for instance has a lot of influence and can creatively figure ways to promote child literacy to motivate them to learn," Mr. Okello explained giving examples of bible stories, Sunday school, and catechism.
He urged local councils to make a collective effort to increase literacy levels, and the government to establish by-laws in directed toward the same, much as parents or guardians have the biggest responsibility in helping their children learn.
Brunch Talk is hosted by Olive Najjuma Monica every Saturday from Midday to 1 pm on RX Radio.