At the onset of the 2020 lockdown in Uganda, little Fosca Driciru, a learner at Ematong Primary School, thought that was it for her and girls like her. Just like that, her dream of becoming an accountant was going down the drain. She prepared herself for the worst, an early marriage would probably be in the pipes for her. No more school! She was scared for the worst, she received a visit from her teachers sent by Windle International Uganda.
“I had gone to fetch water when the visitors came, but my mum said that they were coming back,” she narrates in pure innocence. “They left behind self-help study materials and immediately, I felt happy.” The books were the subjects taught at school like science, social studies, and mathematics. Shortly after, there was another visit, and this time they insisted on seeing that she was studying.
After that, the visitors became common, and she loved it.
“The teachers came and talked to my parents to give me time for revising and doing some other school work,” she explains what happened during the visits. “My parents gave me time; I would stay revising up to 10:00 pm using the materials they gave us. I also listened to the teachers over the radio, my favorite subject was mathematics.”
Inside the home learning Initiative
The home learning initiative was implemented by Windle International Uganda with support from United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and Education Cannot Wait (ECW). Under the initiative, WIU distributed learning materials approved by Uganda National Curriculum Center.
According to Lawrence Abacha Etwao, the head teacher of Ematong Primary School, the text books received have improved learning and helped avert school drop outs. He notes that WIU supported them with logistics to distribute learners in the settlements and refugee host communities. He notes that despite having 1,662 learners in his school, the organisation ensured they each received the books.
“After the distribution of books, Windle International Uganda further supported teachers to conduct lessons on radios for instance on Kibanda FM in Kiryandongo District,” Abacha Etwao revealed. “The lessons covered english, mathematics, integrated science and religious education as a component of social studies.”
When the question of the availability of radios in homes arose, they came up with a solution. “We encouraged parents to acquire some small radios to help learners, for those who could not afford, we encouraged learners to move to homes which had,” he says. “Luckily, many homes are close to one another, and sometimes even our meetings we would merge homes into small groups and maintain standard operating procedures.”
Once the radio lessons commenced and became regular, Windle International Uganda again supported them to see whether the learners were catching up. “We moved down to homes to meet our learners and we were able to find out their challenges and support them to overcome them,” he narrates. “I must say that learning went on well and when it was time to come back to school, we tested them to prove this.”
Besides the impressive performance from the tests, the head teacher is elated that his worries at the onset of the lockdown of school dropouts never happened. “We can account for all our learners,” he boasts. “We had one case of pregnancy, but we supported her and she finished her Primary Leaving Examinations.”
Lawrence Abaca couldn’t find the right words to thank Windle International for ensuring 100% school retention for his school. “What Windle did for us is really good,” he says. “They stood with us at a time we needed support the most, especially for our girls!”