Madikini is supported by a Canadian-funded project called SESEA – Strengthening Education Systems in East Africa. During my Fellowship with the Aga Khan Foundation Canada, I have been supporting monitoring and evaluation activities for SESEA in northern Uganda. This includes collecting data to track the project’s results and impact. I’m excited because today I get to visit Madikini to profile a teacher who has received teacher training under SESEA. School visits are my favourite part of my work.
As we greet Gift and his students, our eyes are overwhelmed by the colourful pictures, maps, and charts that line the classroom walls. I start to feel nostalgic for my own primary school days, and my eagerness to use the resources made available to me. The corners of the room are stocked with games and art materials, and I tiptoe around them as I make my way to a place where I can discreetly observe Gift’s lesson. Most impressively, all of the learning materials have been created by Gift and his students, using local materials from the school’s surrounding environment.
Gift is guiding his students through a story in Kakwa, one of the languages spoken in this part of Uganda. He uses the Reading to Learn (RTL) method, which he learned while attending trainings conducted by AKF. RTL is a set of strategies that helps children improve their reading comprehension skills and engage in reading and writing for pleasure. During the lesson, the students read a passage together, identify sounds and words, practice re-writing text, and make connections between the text and the context. Gift asks for volunteers to identify key words, who then eagerly race up to the board, point to the chart paper, and proudly read aloud.
Through stories like Gift’s, it’s easy to see how SESEA is having an impact on schools throughout East Africa. Back in my office, when I return to the nitty-gritty of managing data, I feel motivated knowing that there are many more teachers out there who, given the right resources and support, are transforming the quality of learning for thousands of students.