How it is
At the moment, a wide variety of quality can be found at all levels of education in Uganda. In general, lessons are:
- taught in classes with many students
Students are expected to fit within the system, and if they do not, little effort is made to find out why. Learning challenges are often attributed to laziness, a student’s personality or a lack of intelligence. Attention for the individual struggling student is scarce, often because teachers have neither the skills nor the time to provide this. Enrolment at primary, secondary and university level is increasing steadily, but that does not automatically mean that all students are learning.
The majority of students in Uganda is learning under complicated circumstances. Just like in any other country, a number of students struggles with learning challenges that can be diagnosed, like dyslexia, dyscalculia, AD(H)D, and many more. Add to that the burden of poverty and – in Northern Uganda – a recently ended civil war that lasted for 2 decades, and you can imagine how many reasons a student in this region can have to get stuck at school.
How it can be
Backup Uganda believes that the key to overcoming the status quo lies in individual attention for every single student, in- and outside the classroom. By supporting students in finding ways to tackle their own learning challenges, they gain skills, knowledge and confidence. It makes them feel in charge of their life, because the difficulties they experience no longer stop them from reaching their full potential. It shows them that it is okay to ask questions, that there is no shame in showing that right now, they do not know how to do something. Most of all, it convinces them that they are worth investing in, even if that takes more time and hard work.
Not only students can benefit from this change of strategy. Teachers feel more empowered once they develop the skills to recognize and adapt their lessons to children with learning challenges. They will have something extra to offer their students, something that does not only brings higher grades, but a mindset that can make students more successful in all aspects of life.
Backup Uganda’s ultimate goal is to create a structure within schools that can attend to the educational needs of all students, including children with learning challenges. That is why we have designed a Backup structure that can easily be replicated at various schools. We are currently testing this structure during our 5-month pilot project. Find out more about the Backup structure here.
Backup Uganda is inspired by Backup Studiebegeleiding (Study Guidance; information in Dutch on www.backupstudiebegeleiding.nl), which has been an important factor that contributes to success in school careers of secondary school students in and around the Dutch town of Zwolle. From homework guidance to homework checks and from tutoring to training for final examinations, together with each student a decision is made which support will be necessary for the highest results that can be achieved with as little stress as possible. At Backup, students grow to flourish as confident individuals. They learn how to deal effectively with their own challenges in, and often also outside of their education.