Teachers are the key to the success of any education system. It is therefore important to invest in teaching – in training, in teaching materials, in management support and in professional development. We need to expand the numbers of teachers so that class sizes are reduced, and to support initiatives that will create a more diverse and inclusive workforce, especially one that includes far more women.
In our “Know Your Teacher” series, we will be profiling teachers at the forefront of providing education and training in refugee settlements in Uganda. In this Question and Answer interview, we will get to know more about our teachers, the challenges they face and how they are dealing with them.
We start off with Logonda Chaplain, a teacher at Bongilo Primary School, Palorinya Refugee Settlement, Moyo District. He has been a teacher for 22 years.
What is your name and where do you teach?
My name is Logonda Chaplain. I am a teacher at Bongilo Primary School.
How long have you been a teacher?
I have been a teacher for 22 years.
What do you teach?
I teach English and SST in the semi-candidate and candidate classes.
What led you into teaching?
The desire to help learners to progress to a certain level in life so that they become my replacement when I retire.
And how would you describe your experience so far?
I began teaching at the age of 24 and I have gained a lot of experience. I love teaching. Many circumstances were good and others were bad especially when I was sent into exile. However, with the support that I get from organizations like Windle, my teaching experience has improved. I can now pay for my younger kids in school. However, I wish the support could be more. That said, I believe I am way better than other teachers who don’t have this kind of support at all.
What are you most proud of?
I am most proud of the improved conditions in this school after working with Windle. I have become a better person as years go by. I am also proud of what Windle is doing especially providing education opportunities for vulnerable children including accommodating us teachers in the settlements.
And do you have any regrets about becoming a teacher?
I don’t have many regrets because since O-level, this is what I wanted to do. Although sometimes we face difficulties in the settlements, that does not stop us from providing our services to learners. I still don’t have any regrets just challenges which are part of life.
What are your enjoyable moments in school?
Interacting with the teachers and learners and then being nominated at the sub county level to deal with examinations. With time, I am sure I will not only limit myself there but I shall progress to other levels.
What are the challenges you have faced so far in teaching?
In the settlements, the population is too big. We are handling 100 learners or more in a class which becomes a challenge when teaching, marking pupils’ books, attendance and even movement while we teach in the class room. Having a big number makes marking take long.
I also wanted to upgrade from a diploma to a degree and finally masters but due to financial constraints, I have not been able to move a step but I still desire to upgrade.
How do you address these challenges?
To handle the large number of learners, I group the learners then my work is only to supervise and monitor.
I would request that Windle and other donors in their planning find a way to give one-year or more contracts so that teachers are confident that they will work for a full year with no problem.
Many teachers would like to upgrade their academic qualifications; we propose that organizations like Windle find a way to get more funds so more teachers can upgrade their qualifications. At least they could cost share with the teachers if possible. For example, if it costs 800,000 UGX, the teacher could pay 400,000 UGX while the organization covers the other 400,000 UGX.
If you can change one thing in education, what would it be?
At primary level, since the world is now going into edu-tech, I would introduce computers into the schools and provide computer training lessons for teachers so that they can also teach the learners. Uganda is moving towards digital learning and a time will come when writing on a black board will not be there and everything will be digital. This is the change I would love introduced so that teachers and learners are well prepared for this moment.
What message would you like to send to other teachers in Uganda and the rest of the world?
Teachers should embrace teaching because the quality of the nation is a result of the quality of teachers. No nation is better without its teachers.
Teachers should focus and embrace digital learning. Computers should be introduced at all levels of education. One day the use of chalk will be minimized and all things will be computerized.
The government and the NGOs should have teachers’ pay improved so that teachers work with more effort because when we look at the other sectors in the country education has little money.
Compiled By: Joseph Waninda & Isaac Opu