By Samuel Opio
After Government closed down all schools following the coronavirus pandemic, Primary and secondary schools candidates were left grappling with fears and uncertainties on when and how they would sit for their national exams.
We spoke to a few candidates who narrated the obstacles they were facing while trying to access online lessons – The learners said they did not own the necessary gadgets like laptops,smart phones to access digital learning while others had to juggle between house chores and studying.
On the 18th March 2020, President Museveni closed all schools before Uganda confirmed its first case three days later.
Speaking to this website, the learners narrated how the sudden closure of schools greatly affected their academics which now hang in the balance due to the pandemic.
A senior Four candidate at Bukedea Secondary School in Bukedea district said studying at home had proved problematic since he had to juggle between household chores and reading.
“Now that I am at home, I have to plan very well so that I can get enough time for my studies,” he said.
The student said he resorted to studying early in the morning and sleeping late in the night since finding time to read during the day while at home has became a near impossibility.
Being the firstborn in the house, he said he had to step up to house chores adding that he would often miss study programmes on TV.
“Ever since the online programmes started, I have never encountered a helpful class for high school students apart from one physics lesson on Cells that appeared only once,” he added.
His father urged the government to factor in the digital divide existing among students from different background while rolling out the e-learning platforms.
“Let the government come up with another method of study that will benefit all the students across the board despite their poor economical background,” he said.
A primary Seven pupil, at Kumi Primary school in Kumi district said he was receiving guidance from his teacher before the schools were closed but since then, he had spent so much time playing around with his friends.
His parents do not own a smartphone or television and he thus follows lessons using a radio.
His mother, said that the government should allow the candidates back to school as they bore the brunt of the closure of schools.
“Let the government identify a few teachers and screen them so that they can teach our children because here at home they’re doing nothing,” the mother said.
Inaccessible gadgets for e-learning on his part, Silver Oumo, a form four candidate at Kumi Wiggins in Kumi district said accessing a smartphone to use while studying is not possible as her parents were always out for work with their phones during the day.
“I don’t know anything to do with online studies. My parents have smartphones but they are usually out for work during the day,” she said.
Oumo also revealed his teachers had neglected him and his classmates unlike other candidates from other schools who were receiving revision papers and assignments through their parents.
“Most of us didn’t carry enough revision books from school being that we were ambushed and we did not even know how long the pandemic would last,” she added.
He, however, exuded confidence that he was ready for the final exams being that the tests would cover everything she learnt from Form One.
“The government should come up with a plan on how we will compensate for the lost time,” Oumo said.
Not accustomed to digital learning Jackson Opio, a P.7 candidate at Joy Chrsitina School in Kumi district, voiced similar predicaments while trying to learn from home.
“It’s very discouraging when you switch on the TV ready to learn then you find out that it’s a class for the nursery kids that is going on,” Opio said.
He said he could not concentrate while learning online since she was not accustomed to the platform. He said studying using a phone was hard since she was not accustomed to such a mode of learning.