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Govt clears school practice for student teachers

Students at Kampala University's PTC entrance

Students at Kampala University's PTC entrance

The ministry of Education and Sports has approved the commencement of school practice when schools reopen for non-candidates starting March 1.    

Previously, the ministry had delayed the activity creating fear that final year student teachers could take longer than expected to be passed out.   

However, Jonathan Kamwana, commissioner Teacher/Tutor Instructor Education and Training (TIET) says they have now agreed that teacher trainees can go for school practice in a staggered manner.   

“School practice will be done in tandem with the new staggered school schedule. When a section of learners reports to school, the teacher trainees who wish to carry out their school practice in that very class will immediately go for school practice,” says Kamwana.    

According to the arrangement, teacher trainees will be required to teach for six weeks, two of which will be spent at their respective training institutions preparing what they will be teaching and instruction materials needed among other pre-school practice activities.   

Kamwana, however, adds that officials at the ministry of Education will next week be meeting with principles of different teacher training colleges and universities to agree on a detailed plan to follow while carrying out the activity. 

Among things to harmonize are dates on which school practice will be done so as not to collide with the already fixed dates for final written examinations for several institutions, PTC and NTCs. For instance, PTCs will be sitting examinations from April 20 to 28. This means the school practice schedule for primary teacher trainees must consider this period.  

Carol Kavuma, senior teacher educator also Uganda National Institute for Teacher Education (UNITE) establishment task-force coordinator says that one of the hurdles which need to be discussed is on the student teachers who will be approaching the syllabus. On reopening, teaching will not be based on a term system. 

"Teachers will instead be focusing on achieving the desired competencies at their respective levels. The ministry is developing a document in form of an accelerated curriculum. I expect that student teachers will also prepare their schemes of work and lessons based on that,” says Kavuma. 

With the staggering system, Kamwana notes that they expect the costs will be high because they will be spending much on supervisors.

“This time around moderators will be supervising specific class or group at a given time, yet this could be done at once during the normal days,” he adds.   

Student teachers are required to undergo the mandatory school practice to expose them to a real class environment before they are passed out. Earlier on, educationists and principals had suggested that the institutions conduct mock school practice or peer training so that the student teachers could qualify together with their counterparts in other programmes upon completion of final examinations. This meant that the trainees would be assessed by their tutors.

However, the ministry of Education objected to this and maintained that school practice can only be carried out in a real school setting to give trainees a better picture of not only the teaching-learning process and pedagogy but also, the entire school environment. 

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