NEWS | THE NORTHERN LINK UG| The Uganda National Examinations Board-UNEB is asking for funds from the government for an assessment that would help the body determine the impact of Covid-19 on learning outcomes in Uganda.
UNEB is obliged to carry out a needs assessment for the education sector. Their findings are usually put into the National Assessment of Progress in Education-NAPE report which is used to establish the levels of learners’ and teacher’s achievement in numeracy and literacy against factors such as gender, school ownership, and location.
It is administered in the form of tests with the same cognitive booklets that are aligned with the national curriculum of each targeted grade. For instance, the last assessment focused on pupils in primary three and six together with their teachers and primary teachers’ college tutors who were subjected to tests to establish their competencies in knowledge and skills.
But Prof. Mary Okwakol, the chairperson of the examinations body, says for the last three years this component has remained an unfunded priority on the UNEB’s budget. She adds that the survey would be even more relevant during the period of COVID-19 because it would help to quantify the impact of unprecedented school closure on learning outcomes.
UNEB spokesperson Jennifer Kalule Musumba says that after the assessment, a report is released to support teachers to understand the learners’ educational needs, offer sub-national level monitoring of learning outcomes, monitor education quality levels, and help planning education policy reforms.
But she notes that UNEB is already functioning on meager resources having suffered a 41 percent budget cut, making it impossible for them to carry out the assessment at the moment.
Many education experts have projected that the ongoing COVID-19 lockdown which led to the closure of schools may worsen the already waning learning outcomes in Uganda. However, the Ministry of Education is yet to commission a survey on this matter which could inform how teaching and learning activities should be held on reopening and years thereafter.
Quoting a recent report by UNICEF titled; it’s not too late to act on early learning, educationist Dr. Tony Mukasa Lusambu advised that reopening of schools alone is not enough but planning recovery measures are also equally important. To him, the ministry cannot plan well before assessing the situation. That’s why surveys like NAPE come in handy.
“For better planning, the ministry needs to strengthen the research as it is critical at such times. If such a report is produced, we can tell how this pandemic has affected the learning outcomes so that we deploy the right approaches to improve and catch up other than guessing or importing what other countries are doing,”- Dr Lusambu said.