Posts tagged as: university

Challenges of Teacher Education

opinionBy Mary A. Mosha

Tanzania’s famous founding president Julius Nyerere was a teacher. But despite the government’s commitment to education in its development agenda, many young people shun the teaching profession. Salaries are low, classes big and teaching has little prestige among the professions.

The concept of education

Education as concept can be used to convey two different though complementary meanings. In one sense it is used to refer to the extent, measure or level of cumulative attainment by an individual of a distinctive quality of information, knowledge and/or understanding that places the individual above the average person. In another sense, education is seen as a dynamic, on-going process that involves a person in several things at the same time: acquiring and assimilating information from source, physically and mentally processing the information acquired and transmitting the processed information to others or applying the acquired skills to different situations in an attempt to solve different problems and challenges of existence (Nyirenda & Ishumi, 2008).

Education in Tanzania

The formal education and training system in Tanzania comprises two years of preprimary education, seven years of primary education, four years of junior secondary, two years of senior secondary and three or more years of tertiary education. On the whole, the education system can be divided into three levels: Basic, secondary and tertiary. The basic level education consists of pre-primary, primary, and non-formal adult education. The secondary education level includes the ordinary and advanced levels of schooling, while tertiary level programs are offered by higher institutions, including universities and teacher training colleges

Ministry of education

The Ministry of Education and Vocational Training has general responsibility for education. Amongst other aspects, the ministry is charged with quality assurance, research, monitoring and evaluation of primary and secondary education. In addition to the ministry, various other parties are involved in the governance and monitoring of education services, such as the prime minister’s office, the regional administration and local government, various NGOs and individuals coordinated by the central government.

Statistics from the Ministry of Education show that 400,000 youth complete primary education each year. Out of those only 10% get the opportunity to continue with secondary education in both government and private schools: 42,157 complete secondary education each year. Only 10,000 youths secure places in higher institutions of learning including universities each year (Ministry of Labour and Youth Development, 1996). In Tanzania schools, colleges and private sectors institutions provide opportunities to youth. In this way, some of the youth who miss the opportunity to join higher education can join private and government teacher training colleges (TTCs).

Teacher training

Teacher training in Tanzania is currently offered in three levels, which are grade A, diploma and degree level. Grade A student teachers are trained at teacher training colleges to equip them with knowledge, pedagogical skills and methods to teach at primary schools. The training lasts two years that include teaching practice. If the student teachers complete their training successfully they graduate as professional teachers and are employed by the government to teach in primary schools. However, there are some cases particularly in rural areas where these teachers teach in secondary schools because of shortage of teachers especially in science subjects. Diploma student teachers are trained to teach at secondary schools. Training also lasts two years. Degree level teacher students are trained at the universities for three years to teach at secondary schools and teacher training colleges.

In many countries, including Tanzania, teachers get no further additional professional support for a long time, leading to ineffective teaching, hence, poor performance in schools (Mbunda , 1998). Pointing out the importance of life-long learning for teachers Mbunda states that:

“Pre-service training alone is not enough whether one acquires a teacher certificate or a first degree for the basic reasons that;

A single teacher training course is not sufficient to keep one intellectually alive;

Curriculum always changes and knowledge and teaching technology develop and;

Education is a life-long and continuous process”.

Teacher professional development

Teacher development is the process and activities designed to promote professional knowledge, skills and attitudes of teachers for the purpose of improving pupils’ learning (Guskey, 2000). The purpose of professional development in education is to build and transform strong knowledge through teachers with the ambition to achieve excellence in education (Compoy, 1997). Gaible and Burns (2005) assert that in order to be effective, teachers’ professional development should address the core areas of teaching content, curriculum, assessment and instruction.

According to Education and Policy Training in Tanzania (1995), teacher professional development constitutes an important element for quality and efficiency in education. Teachers need to be exposed regularly to new methodologies and approaches of teaching. The teaching effectiveness of every serving teacher will thus need to be developed through planned and known schedules of in-service training programmes. Therefore, in-service training and re-training shall be compulsory in order to ensure teacher quality and professionalism.

The effectiveness of the teacher depends on her competence (academically and pedagogically) and efficiency (ability, work load, and commitment), teaching and learning resources and methods; support from education managers and supervisors (Rogan 2004; Van den Akker & Thijs 2002; Mosha 2004). Teacher professional development provides opportunities for teachers to explore new roles, develop new instructional techniques, refine their practice and broaden themselves both as educators and as individuals.

Factors influencing teacher professional development

Villegas-Reimers (2003) identifies conceptual, contextual and methodological factors on how change, teaching, and teacher development are perceived. Contextual factors refer to the role of the school leadership, organizational culture, external agencies and the extent to which site-based initiatives are supported. Methodological factors relate to processes or procedures that have been designed to support teacher professional development. It would seem that from the perspective of an interactive system model, teacher professional development is a function of the interaction between and among five key players or stakeholders. These are the ministry responsible for teacher education, universities, schools, the community and the teachers themselves. In the context of Tanzania the Ministry of Education and Vocational Training is responsible for providing policy and financial support for teacher professional development. Universities and teacher colleges are responsible for providing training, conducting policy oriented research and providing relevant literature and materials to support teachers in schools.

The teacher’s perception of the professional development is the most important of all factors. It is an intrinsic motivation, an internal force. The teacher has to see and accept the need to grow professionally. A teacher who perceives professional development positively is eager to attain new knowledge, skills, attitudes, values and dispositions. Within such dispositions there is pride, self-esteem, team spirit, commitment, drive, adventure, creativity and vision. All these attributes have to be owned by the teacher (Mosha 2006). Teacher’s perception depends on self-evaluation, the influence and support of school leadership and school culture (Komba & Nkumbi, 2008).

In Tanzania, there are various opportunities that youth can take advantage of such as leadership, job skills, vocational training and health. For instance, there are programs like The Life Choices targeting youth aged 10-19 with the core message of sexual abstinence and being faithful to prevent HIV infection. This programme is realistic because it does not only offer youth health education but also skills training, parental/teacher/community support, recreational activities, sports and youth camps.

Youth opportunities are also available in the teaching profession. The minimum admission requirement for the teacher education certificate course is Division III of the Certificate of Secondary Education Examination while for a diploma teacher certificate one requires Division III in the Advanced Certificate of Secondary Education Examination (ETP, 1995: 48). Following liberalisation policies in 1994, individuals and private agencies were encouraged to invest in education to complement government efforts. A number of private education institutions and colleges have been established in the country at all levels of the education system, but with limited enrolment capacity.

There are various challenges that hinder young people from joining the teaching profession in Tanzania. First, teaching is perceived negatively by young people because of low salaries in comparison to other professions like law and medicine. In addition, teachers are not respected in the society as before (Mosha, 2016). Complaints from the teachers about poor teaching and learning environment, shortage of resources and large class sizes do not attract young people to the profession. Second, the teaching profession is not a choice for many youth but they join it because they have no alternative. Third, youth perceive teaching profession as the profession joined by those who did not perform well in the national examinations.

It can be concluded that education is a key component of the government of Tanzania’s development agenda but has not attracted young people to join the teaching profession because it is always perceived negatively compared to other professions.

* MARY A. MOSHA teaches at in the Faculty of Education, University of Bagamoyo.

References

Compoy, R. W. (1997). Creating effective instruction models in professional development in school. Professional Education Journal, 19(2) pp 32-42.

Educational system in Tanzania: Challenges and prospective. Retrieved on 5th 2017 from http://www.tanzania.go.tz/educationf.html.

Gaible, E. & Burns, (2005). Using technology to train teachers: Appropriate use of ICT for teacher professional development in developing countries. Washington: The World Bank.

Guskey, T. R. (2000). Evaluating professional development. California: Thousand Oak, Corwin Press Inc.

Komba, W. L & Nkumbi, E. (2008). Teacher professional development in Tanzania: Perceptions and practices. Journal of International Cooperation in Education, Vol.11 No.3 (2008) pp.67-83.

Mbunda, F. L (1998). Management workshop for Teachers’ Resource Centres. Dar es Salaam: Institute of Kiswahili Research.

Ministry of Labour and Youth Development (1996). National, Youth Development Policy. Dar es Salaam.

Mosha, H. J. (2004). New Direction in teacher education for quality improvement in Africa. Papers in Education and Development, 24, 45-68.

Mosha, H. J. (2006). Capacity of school management for teacher professional development in

Tanzania. Delivered at a workshop on the role of universities in promoting basic education in Tanzania, held at the Millennium Towers Hotel, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, May 19.

Mosha, M. (2016). Secondary school students’ attitudes towards teaching profession: A case of Tanzania. Research Journal of Educational Studies and Review Vol. 2 (5), pp. 71-77.

Nyirenda, S, D. & Ishumi, A.B.G (2008). Philosophy of Education: An introductory to concepts, principles and practice. Dar es Salaam: Dar es Salaam University Press.

Rogan, J. (2004). Professional development: Implications for developing countries. In K. O-saki, K. Hosea & W. Ottevanger, Reforming science and mathematics education in sub-Saharan Africa: Obstacles and opportunities (pp.155-170). Amsterdam: Vrije Universteit Amsterdam.

Salesian Missions (2017). Giving hope to millions of youth around the world Globe. New York: New Rochelle.

United Republic of Tanzania (1995). Educational training policy. Dar es Salaam: Adult Education Press.

Villegas-Reimers, E. (2003). Teacher professional development: An international review of literature. UNESCO: International Institute for Educational Planning. Retrieved on June 2017 from http://www.unesdoc.unesco.org/images

Nine Nairobi MPs Sent Home as New Ones Take Over

By Collins Omulo

Nairobi County voters sent packing nine members of Parliament in the recent General Election.

Only eight lawmakers elected to the 11th Parliament in the 2013 elections have made it back to the 12th one.

The voters’ decision saw political heavyweights swept away.

SURVIVORS

Only Mr Kenneth Okoth (Kibra), Mr Timothy Wanyonyi (Westlands), Mr Paul Simba Arati (Dagoretti North), Mr James Mwangi Gakuya (Embakasi North), Mr George Theuri (Embakasi West), Mr Yusuf Hassan Abdi (Kamukunji), Mr Isaac Waihenya Ndirangu (Roysambu) and Mr T.J. Kajwang’ (Ruaraka) were spared.

Those sent home are Mr Dennis Waweru (Dagoretti South), Mr John Ndirangu (Embakasi Central), Mr John Omondi (Embakasi East), Mr Irshadali Mohamed Sumra (Embakasi South), Mr John Njoroge Chege (Kasarani), Mr Joash Olum (Lang’ata), Mr Benson Mutura (Makadara), Mr Steven Kariuki (Mathare) and Mr Maina Kamanda (Starehe).

NOMINATIONS

Mr Waweru lost to comedian John Kiarie, alias KJ, twice.

The first time was in the Jubilee Party primary and the second was in the main election, in which Mr Waweru contested as an independent.

Mr Ndirangu lost to Mr Benjamin Gathiru in the Jubilee primary for the Embakasi Central seat, while Mr Omondi was defeated in the ODM primary by political greenhorn and former University of Nairobi student leader Paul Ongili, alias Babu Owino.

NIXON KORIR

Mr Julius Musili Mawathe replaced Mr Sumra.

Ms Mercy Wanjiku Gakuya beat Mr Chege, both in party nomination and in the main election after he chose to go the independent way, to become the only woman MP in the county.

Mr Nixon Korir, popularly known to his supporters as Generali, replaced Mr Olum of ODM.

STAREHE

Former Nairobi mayor George Aladwa defeated Mr Mutura of Jubilee.

Lawyer Anthony Oluoch replaced Bishop Margaret Wanjiru’s son, Mr Steven Kariuki, as MP for Mathare.

Musician Charles Kanyi Njagua came tops in Starehe to replace Mr Kamanda, in a contest of youthful politicians.

He contested against activist Boniface Mwangi and businessman Steve Mbogo Ndwiga.

JUBILEE/ODM WAR

The Jubilee Party has the highest number of new lawmakers, leading with five.

ODM has three and the Wiper Democratic Movement one.

ODM regained the Makadara and Mathare seats but lost the Lang’ata one.

Imbonerakure Students Accused of Conducting Night Patrols On Mutanga Campus

By Bella Lucia Nininahazwe

At Mutanga Campus of Burundi University, students say they are seriously beaten by imbonerakure students when they go back to the campus late in the night. The campus security officer denies the students’ claim and appeals to them to conform to the university regulations.

The students accuse some imbonerakure students (students affiliated to the ruling party) of carrying out night patrols. “They are in groups of 15 to 30 students. They walk together during night. When they meet somebody who enters the campus late, they beat them savagely. Last week, they obliged a student to walk on knees after hitting him” said a young student met on the campus.

They deplore the fact that the imbonerakure students play the role of security agents while the university has its own security forces. They demand the security corps to take the issue seriously. “I think the guys have been hired. Nobody can accept to conduct night patrols without being paid. Furthermore, not all imbonerakure students are doing the job. We demand the authority to shed some light on this issue. People are beaten and no reaction from security authorities”, said another student on condition of anonymity.

Célestin Nibona -Bonasize, in charge of security at university campuses, says there are no students who carry out night patrols. “There are no Imbonerakure students who go on night patrols. The University has sufficient watchmen and police agents. Students are here to study not to work”

He appeals to students who live on campus to comply with the regulations that govern the university so that they can avoid any incident. “Students have to respect regulations of the institution according to which they have to be inside the campus before 3pm. They have to pass through the known entrance. There are only two known entrances. They have to collaborate because this is done for their own advantages”.

Students have expressed their worries after an incident that happened on Monday where two students were beaten while entering the campus late in the night.

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Nigeria: Halt Lassa Fever in Its Tracks

Lassa fever, one of this country’s most dreaded contagious diseases, recently resurfaced in several states all at once. It made a deadly appearance at the Lagos University Teaching Hospital where two patients died and 15 others have been infected. Lassa fever virus is known to be transmitted to human beings who eat food items contaminated with faeces or urine of rodents, mainly infected rats. Afterwards, any person who has physical contact with a Lassa fever infected person could also be infected. In this way it spreads faster than most other dangerous viruses, perhaps second only to Ebola.

First identified in Lassa community in Borno State in 1969, each time Lassa fever resurfaces in Nigeria, we are reminded of our half-hearted and cosmetic approach to problems which provides the fertile environment for them to germinate and spread out in more ferocious ways. For instance, in 2012 when its outbreak confounded the country with 70 deaths and 623 cases in 19 Northern states, the concern over its spread generated the alarm that should have spurred government and researchers in the health sciences to work on a formidable response to the disease. But we did not. In 2016, the country recorded another alarming outbreak. The World Health Organisation [WHO] said that 273 cases were recorded that year, including 149 deaths in 23 states of the federation.

In reaction to the frequent outbreaks of Lassa fever, the Federal Government set up the Lassa Fever Eradication Committee in January 2016 headed by a former President of the Nigeria Academy of Sciences, Professor Oyewale Tomori. The committee, in collaboration with the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control [NCDC] was supposed to produce a roadmap for the control and prevention of Lassa fever in Nigeria. However, it is not clear what came out of the committee’s work. That is why the recent outbreak has caused panic all over the country, especially the fact that some medical personnel who attended to the patients at LUTH also became infected with the virus.

It is very unfortunate that in Nigeria, there is only one Lassa fever diagnostic centre, which is the Lassa Fever Research and Control Centre, Irrua Specialist Teaching Hospital in Edo State. For a deadly disease like Lassa fever this is unacceptable because in other climes, government would have set aside enough funds for research into, not just Lassa fever’s diagnosis but its cure and containment. By now there should have been many such centres spread out in most if not all states of the federation. Though WHO says the disease is prevalent in West Africa, Lassa fever occurs most frequently in Nigeria. It is therefore imperative for this country to take the lead in the effort to find a lasting solution to it.

We call on the government and the Ministry of Health to work towards setting up Lassa fever diagnostic centres in all tertiary hospitals across the country. The least should be a diagnostic centre in each of the geopolitical zones in the country. Lassa fever is not restricted to one part of Nigeria. Recent reports say the outbreak has occurred in the North-West, North-East, South-West and South-South states. Taking blood samples from North-East all the way to Edo State for laboratory tests takes much time, enough time for the disease to kill patients and also spread to many people who innocently have contact with a Lassa fever infected patient, including health workers.

Apart from diagnostic centres, government should vigorously educate Nigerians on the need to maintain a clean environment which does not attract rats and other rodents. Cleanliness is a habit and proper education at the grassroots, even in slums in urban areas, would help greatly. Government must not watch Nigerians die cheaply from deadly but preventable diseases every now and then.

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Neonatal Death Rate On the Rise

By Ali Twaha

More young mothers are increasingly failing to take care of their newborns, which has led to an increase in cases of neonatal mortality in Uganda, warns medical experts.

Neonatal mortality refers to the probability of children dying within the first month of life. With nearly 39,000 deaths being reported annually, experts say, it surpasses cases of death from HIV/Aids and accidents combined.

Prof Peter Wasswa, the maternal newborn research leader at Makerere University’s School of Public Health and Center of Excellence, said although infant maternal mortality has significantly dropped over the years, more children are now dying within their first month of birth.

“Neonatal mortality is one area where Uganda has not progressed… we have a very big problem with neonatal mortality [with] estimates of about 39,000 dying annually, perhaps even becoming higher because the figures don’t indicate progress,” he said.

He continued: “One of the things that we are not doing so well is improving clinical care. We have focused a lot on prevention but we need to build on that prevention and strengthen the clinical care. Small babies are dying a lot and I think we need more research on small babies.”

He was presenting a report on their findings on neonatal mortality rates in Uganda to the Heath minister, Jane Ruth Aceng, at the 13th annual scientific conference, organized by the Uganda Paedriatic Association last week.

Neonatal mortality in rural communities is reported to be higher than the national average. The conference resolved that forming partnerships among government and private hospitals to mobilize and sensitize households on appropriate maternal and newborn care practices could play a key role in reducing neonatal mortality.

SECURED GRANTS

Aceng said the government had secured a $130m grant for reproductive maternal. She emphasized that the grant will specifically be used in improving neonatal challenges across the different health centres.

“We want to scale up the capacity of the health workers for them to be more able to respond to the needs of the newborns. But also work together in collaborations with the obstetricians because the life of a neonatal begins from the time of conception to the time of birth,” Aceng said.

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Software Engineers Win U.S.$250 for Developing Phone App to Promote Sanitation

By Christopher Tusiime

A group of five software engineers has developed an application, Tag It, that is meant to ensure easy and quick collection of garbage in Kampala by facilitating reporting about broken sewage pipes to authorities, among other pro-health practices.

This was during a Hackathon event themed ‘Hack4theCity’ that was held on July 28 at Kololo-based Makerere University school of Public Health offices.

The engineers are Alfred Kirama (web designer), Patricia Kalungi (mapping expert), Mary Nakanjako (project manager), Ali Kibirige (Android developer) and Emmanuel Semutenga (Web developer).

The five were awarded $250 by Resilient African Network (RAN), the organisers of the event who partnered Makerere University; AidData, a research and innovation lab; and Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA).

ABOUT THE APP

The second and third teams were awarded $150 and $100 respectively. Kirama explained that the app also has a web version.

He added that with it, community members can be able to “tag” locations that are in urgent need of services like garbage collection, fallen electric poles, damaged water pipes, sewage spills, and manholes.

“The responsible authorities will follow up these location tags when implementing cleaning strategies for such areas,” Kirama said on behalf of the team.

To use the service, one will simply need a smartphone with Tag It installed from Google Play Store or access the service from a web version that is still being designed.

“Once you see a broken sewage pipe, heaps of garbage and such things, you go to the Google map, tap there and a drop down menu will appear.

Then, you will select an icon [like a dustbin for garbage] of what you have seen and type the necessary location details and tap on send,” Kirama added.

Once the issue gets reported, Kirama explained, responsible companies and institutions that they are going to partner like Umeme, KCCA, National Water and Sewerage Corporation (NWSC) will be immediately notified by the app’s system to take prompt action.

He also said the app will be available for use by the end of September this year and it will be for free, adding that they will start with Kampala and later extend the service to other districts.

CHALLENGE

According to RAN, more than half of the world’s population now lives in urban areas, with Kampala having a population of 1.5 million.

As more and more people move to Kampala and other cities in Uganda, resources, infrastructure and services are stretched beyond capacity.

So, it is on this basis that Ran considered a Hackathon where different groups of youths with knowledge in software engineering can come together and compete in development of applications that could ensure urban places are safe and sustainable.

Participants were asked to form teams of five individuals who competed to create web and mobile applications, web maps, GIS (Geographic Information System) apps or static apps to address a specific challenge with a concentration on the use of spatial visualization and analysis.

Harriet Adong, the RAN communications officer, said they are going to work with this group by providing the necessary technical support to see the prototype realizes its intended purpose.

Uganda: Software Engineers Win U.S.$250 for Developing Phone App to Promote Sanitation

By Christopher Tusiime

A group of five software engineers has developed an application, Tag It, that is meant to ensure easy and quick collection of garbage in Kampala by facilitating reporting about broken sewage pipes to authorities, among other pro-health practices.

This was during a Hackathon event themed ‘Hack4theCity’ that was held on July 28 at Kololo-based Makerere University school of Public Health offices.

The engineers are Alfred Kirama (web designer), Patricia Kalungi (mapping expert), Mary Nakanjako (project manager), Ali Kibirige (Android developer) and Emmanuel Semutenga (Web developer).

The five were awarded $250 by Resilient African Network (RAN), the organisers of the event who partnered Makerere University; AidData, a research and innovation lab; and Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA).

ABOUT THE APP

The second and third teams were awarded $150 and $100 respectively. Kirama explained that the app also has a web version.

He added that with it, community members can be able to “tag” locations that are in urgent need of services like garbage collection, fallen electric poles, damaged water pipes, sewage spills, and manholes.

“The responsible authorities will follow up these location tags when implementing cleaning strategies for such areas,” Kirama said on behalf of the team.

To use the service, one will simply need a smartphone with Tag It installed from Google Play Store or access the service from a web version that is still being designed.

“Once you see a broken sewage pipe, heaps of garbage and such things, you go to the Google map, tap there and a drop down menu will appear.

Then, you will select an icon [like a dustbin for garbage] of what you have seen and type the necessary location details and tap on send,” Kirama added.

Once the issue gets reported, Kirama explained, responsible companies and institutions that they are going to partner like Umeme, KCCA, National Water and Sewerage Corporation (NWSC) will be immediately notified by the app’s system to take prompt action.

He also said the app will be available for use by the end of September this year and it will be for free, adding that they will start with Kampala and later extend the service to other districts.

CHALLENGE

According to RAN, more than half of the world’s population now lives in urban areas, with Kampala having a population of 1.5 million.

As more and more people move to Kampala and other cities in Uganda, resources, infrastructure and services are stretched beyond capacity.

So, it is on this basis that Ran considered a Hackathon where different groups of youths with knowledge in software engineering can come together and compete in development of applications that could ensure urban places are safe and sustainable.

Participants were asked to form teams of five individuals who competed to create web and mobile applications, web maps, GIS (Geographic Information System) apps or static apps to address a specific challenge with a concentration on the use of spatial visualization and analysis.

Harriet Adong, the RAN communications officer, said they are going to work with this group by providing the necessary technical support to see the prototype realizes its intended purpose.

Zambia: Compulsory HIV Testing Will Attract More Stigma, Discrimination

Photo: The Citizen

Patient being tested for HIV (file photo).

opinionBy George Mwenya

I am yet to read the full statement on the issue of making the testing for HIV mandatory.

From what l am seeing on social media it seems people are very excited and some making foolish jokes about it.

The problem in Zambia is that we make jokes about everything. Yes humor is food for the soul. However believe me some of it is just childish and stupid.

People make fun of people who face different challenges. The poor, physically challenged, mentally challenged and people who have HIV. My heart bleeds when l see this.

Some people use jokes as a new face of stigma. In social media people have found a way of getting at others. This is not wise but foolishness and lack of reasoning.

When the news about making HIV testing compulsory broke Instead of seeing a real debate about the pros and cons. All l could see were childish jokes. To me stigmatisation has already started.

I know it is important for one to know not only their HIV status just like any health status. But l think the first things we need to do is to work on the mindsets of everyone.

Making or forcing people means we have failed on the part of education. Making it mandatory means we have no capacity to teach our young people about preventive methods.

You can’t force people to go for HIV testing. It should come from them. Then as l said education.

Putting fear in people is Do a good preventive methodology. It will just make people fear to go to the hospital even when they have a simple toothache.

We should put all our energies in dealing with issues of stigma and discrimination. We should put more effort in research and help find the cure. We should try to seek to deal with preventive measures like the control of drinking places which are probably the breeding places for HIV.

Further more we should seek to create decent jobs for our young people. Night Clubs, bars will put our young girls at risk.

These are the things we should be talking about. Not programs which are just copied and pasted in our country. Some of these foreign programs don’t have anything good for our people. So we ought to be careful.

In some of these countries a referendum would be called to determine something like the issue at hand.

But here it is just copy and paste. What next after this mandatory HIV and testing? Stigma and discrimination as people will be required to go with test certificate when looking for a job or school place.

All this is happening in a number of countries. So for me it is a shame and lack of reasoning by those who are in the fore front of this law or whatever you wanna call it.

Families will be torn apart, society will be full of stigma and the country will be a big Court which will sentence people to death.

Policies and rules are nothing. Therapy, education and not putting fear in people are more important.

And those of you using jokes and social media as a way of getting at people with different challenges or HIV status. Shame on you.

The author is a PhD candidate-Political, Gender and Transnational Studies at the International Postgraduate Centre (IPC), Faculty of Social Sciences at Goethe University Frankfurt

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MPs Question Funding to Private Universities

By Agencies

The Public Accounts Committee of Parliament has tasked Education ministry officials to explain the irregular transfer of Shs2.1 billion to private universities.

The money was allegedly transferred to six private universities in the 2015-2016 financial year.

The beneficiaries include Kisubi Brothers University College (912 million), Bishop Stuart University (380 million), Kumi University (300 million), Nkumba University (300 million), Mountains of the Moon University (150 million) and Ndejje University (150 million).

The allocation was allegedly in fulfilment of presidential pledges. In one of the pledges made in 2010, President Yoweri Museveni pledged to finance the training of 50 science teachers at Kisubi Brothers University College each year for five years.

The maiden implementation of the pledge was in the 2011-2021 financial year. During the year, the Ministry of Education provided Shs12 million per student totalling to Shs600 million.

The anomaly was detected by the Auditor General, Mr John Muwanga who said the transfers lacked detailed information regarding the status of implementation.

The audit also revealed that the transfers were made without putting in place mechanisms for accountability and that the Ministry of education issued the money without drawing any agreement with the beneficiaries.

PAC Vice Chairperson, Mr Gerald Karuhanga questioned how the Ministry would commit huge sums of money to private universities, yet public universities continue to grapple with funding shortfalls. He also questioned why the Education ministry budget should be used to implement presidential pledges, yet parliament allocates funds to the Office of the President to meet the same.

The Ministry officials acknowledged the absence of a Memorandum of Understanding with the universities that benefited adding that such requirements have since been put in place.

Mr Alex Kakooza, the ministry’s Permanent Secretary asked PAC for more time to avail letters demanding private institutions for accountability.

The Director Higher Education, Mr Robert Oceng told the committee that so far, Nkumba and Ndejje universities have availed accountability for the funds allocated to them.

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South Africa: Is There a Formula for Academic Success?

Studies show the odds are stacked against learners from poorer backgrounds, so why do some succeed where others fail?

New research may have revealed simple factors that could be key in helping children from disadvantaged backgrounds succeed academically.

More than half of South Africa’s children live in poverty, as research from the 2016 South African Early Childhood Review shows. The study is one of many arguing that factors such as poor nutrition and health care that are associated with poverty can have long-lasting impacts for children.

“Shortfalls in early childhood development are difficult to correct as time goes by. These children are always playing catch-up and the education gap between them and their peers widens over time,” Sonja Giese from Ilifa Labantwana told Bhekisisa at the time of the report’s launch in May 2016. Ilifa Labantwana is one of the organisations that contributed to the publication.

But many students from disadvantaged backgrounds go on to succeed. Is there a recipe for beating the odds?

New research published in the Journal of Multicultural Counselling and Development tried to answer this question by interviewing two dozen high-achieving children from a range of ethnic groups in the United States. The children were roughly 12 years old and came from households that earned $18 000 a year, a figure that was almost three times lower than the country’s median household income in 2013 according to US Census data.

When asked what helped them to achieve at school, learners cited like-minded friends as well as having support from caring adults within their families or communities, and this was often associated with having access to learning opportunities outside the classroom such as reading programmes or extra-curricular activities.

Supportive teachers also played a role in encouraging children to succeed.

“My teacher knew that the students in my class were having a hard time completing homework because most of us lived in small apartments,” said one learner quoted in the study.

“[It’s] hard to focus and find a quiet space. So she stopped giving homework and let us do it at the end of the day at school. It really helped my grades.”

Study author and assistant professor at George Mason University Joseph Williams says that all pupils are born with resilience, but it is the circumstances of the home and community environment that bring it out of them.

Although the US study was small, the research’s findings echo those previously found as part of another small 2005 qualitative published in the South African Journal of Psychology.

In the South African study, researchers found that first-year university students who came from disadvantaged backgrounds but excelled in their first semester had similar characteristics as the American primary school children, namely: supportive parents, teachers and community members. Georgetown associate professor and author of the study Priscilla Dass-Brailsford told Bhekisisa that students’ desires to deliver their families from poverty were their main motivation for succeeding at university.

“The problem with [the concept of] resilience”

Rashid Ahmed is a senior lecturer at the University of the Western Cape’s department of psychology with an interest in community resilience.

While he acknowledges that children’s resiliency can be an important asset to help them beat the odds, he cautions against placing the onus on children to develop this – instead of fixing the societal factors that disadvantage them.

He explains that resilience is the idea that even in high-risk, disadvantaged environments where children would be expected to, for instance, perform poorly academically or experience mental health problems, some still succeed.

“The problem with [the concept of] resilience is that it places the responsibility on the individuals on then changing their rather than the factors that produce the inequalities and difficulties”, he says.

Although students in the South African studies performed well academically, all 16 students interviewed said poverty was a stress in their life and that their communities lacked resources, such as libraries and recreation centres, to foster their academic growth.

Both Williams and Dass-Brailsford say that to help disadvantaged students succeed, governments need to look at education holistically.

“One of the reasons they need to be resilient is because they come from toxic environments. We need interventions that are more social [in nature], and access to resources, so kids can actually do well,” Williams argues.

Dass-Brailsford also recommends that the department of higher education provides students with tuition assistance as well as libraries close to their homes.

Ahmed says that, in short, there is no formula for academic success – but there is still a lot that can be done to help pupils thrive: “We should be combining interventions that look to build on resilience while simultaneously looking at why so many [children] are failing to start.”

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