The Uganda National Examinations Board (UNEB) is seeking government funding for an assessment that will help it establish the impact of Covid-19 on Ugandan learning outcomes.
A needs assessment for the education sector is required by UNEB. Their findings are frequently included in the National Assessment of Progress in Education-NAPE report, which is used to determine levels of numeracy and literacy achievement among students and teachers based on criteria like gender, school ownership, and location.
It is given out in the form of exams that use the same cognitive booklets and are associated with the national curriculum for each grade level. For example, the most recent assessment focused on students in primary three and six, as well as their teachers and primary teachers’ college tutors, who were tested to determine their knowledge and skill competencies.
However, Prof. Mary Okwakol, the chairperson of the examinations board, claims that this component has been an unfunded priority on the UNEB’s budget for the past three years. She goes on to say that the poll would be especially useful during COVID-19 because it would let researchers to evaluate the impact of unprecedented school closures on learning outcomes.
According to UNEB spokesperson Jennifer Kalule Musumba, a report is issued following the assessment to assist teachers in understanding the educational needs of their students, provide sub-national level monitoring of learning outcomes, monitor education quality levels, and aid in the planning of education policy reforms.
However, she points out that UNEB is already operating on a shoestring budget, having lost 41% of its funding, making the assessment hard to complete at this time.
Many education experts believe that the current COVID-19 lockdown, which has resulted in the shutdown of schools, would exacerbate Uganda’s already deteriorating learning outcomes. The Ministry of Education, on the other hand, has yet to commission a survey on the subject, which could inform how teaching and learning activities should be conducted upon reopening and in the years following.
Educationist Dr Tony Mukasa Lusambu, citing a recent UNICEF report titled; It’s not too late to act on early learning, suggested that restoring schools alone is not enough, and that planning recovery measures is as crucial. According to him, the ministry cannot prepare effectively without first appraising the circumstances. This is where NAPE surveys come in helpful.
“The government needs to strengthen research for better planning, as it is crucial at such times. If such a report is published, we will be able to see how the epidemic has influenced learning results, and we will be able to implement the appropriate strategies to improve and catch up, rather than assuming or importing what other nations are doing,” Dr Lusambu added.