With schools reopening still shrouded in uncertainty, Gombe Educations Services (GES) has moved to fill the void by initiating a universal online learning platform for all learners in Uganda.
President Yoweri Museveni recently said Ugandan schools are unlikely to reopen until a vaccine for Covid-19 is got. GES' programme which will use real-time video software, targets all learners from nursery to secondary school. Its initiators argue that it will provide a proper classroom environment where the instructor will be able to get real-time feedback from the leaners.
Since March this year, at least 15 million learners have been holed up at homes as one of the government’s measures to prevent the spread of Covid-19 pandemic that has ravaged the entire globe.
As students keep at home, the government has endeavoured to provide revision materials to learners through newspapers and TV/radio programs but many, who cannot access these materials have been left out, thus necessitating the government recent initiative to distribute TV and radio sets across the country.
This notwithstanding, the measures have been very passive and hard to regulate by both parents and the government. GES has introduced an interactive module open to learners from all schools across the country and abroad starting July 1, 2020. Here, all learners will get a chance to meet their colleagues (through video), ask questions in class and get real-time answers from teachers.
According to Nkono Yeeko, the coordinator of the program at GES, the initiative is aimed at creating a sense of community during the Covid-19 crisis. Learners have spent over three months at home and academic rustiness is inevitable, said Yeeko.
“This is a national program that does not discriminate against anyone. We have outsourced teachers from some of the best schools on top of our own. Let’s join hands as a community of educators and prevent our children from lagging behind,” he added.
A parent just needs a laptop, a tablet, smartphone or desktop with a webcam on top of constant data. Yeeko said parents can call 0708 800002/6 to enroll.
The initiative has been roundly welcomed by parents who say that it is becoming increasingly difficult to keep children engaged at home.
“My three children have always been in boarding school but now I have had to literally police them to keep revising books. I can assure you it is a hell of a job,” said Jane Namubiru, a parent from Busaabala.
“So, when I heard of the GES online learning program because it is cheaper than what other schools are charging and the video part gives a chance for the children to interact with their friends in a classroom environment,” she added.
In the same vein, Martha Labeja from Mukono noted that “this is long overdue because online teaching will soon become the new normal”