A substantial investment needs to be made in infrastructural support, because a conducive learning environment is key for optimal learning.
While access to education has substantially increased over the years, the declining quality of education is a growing concern for many in Uganda. A large number of schools are afflicted by a lack of teachers, limited equipment and inadequate infrastructure to meet the needs of the growing classroom population.
The Teacher Training Education (TTE) project set up by the Belgian development agency and the Ugandan government seeks to address this problem. The project aims at improving the quality of secondary teacher education in National Teachers’ Colleges by strengthening the professional competencies of future teachers and enhancing infrastructure.
Teacher = facilitator
ATL is improving learning in a way that benefits both the teacher and the student. Phionah Namutosi, a student from National Teachers’ College Mubende shared the following experience:
“During my time as a student, teachers were focused on exams and I found myself not understanding a lot of the subjects in the classroom. Right now, with the Active Teaching and Learning approach, lessons are more interesting and I retain so much more than before.”
“This way of learning is more realistic than theoretical,” explains Sarah Nawuma, a mentor teacher at National Teachers’ College Kaliro. The students enjoy learning more when they are involved and in control of it. As a teacher, I have changed practice. I used to lecture my students but now my role is to facilitate learning.”
Ultimately, providing better teaching methods is one way to improve the quality of education. In order to take a further step, a substantial investment also has to be made in infrastructural support. A conducive learning environment is key for optimal learning.
Through the infrastructural component of the TTE project, a lot of emphasis has been put on creating a healthy functional learning environment that enhances Active Teaching and Learning. The architectural designs and infrastructural set-up take into account several factors that focus on innovation, sustainability, energy efficiency and the natural environment. Students benefit from sufficient natural daylight and a pleasant temperature in classrooms, thanks to a well-designed cross-ventilation system adjusted to higher tropical temperatures without any artificial intervention.
The learning environment has been enhanced through the creation of spacious and flexible classrooms. These classrooms have electricity sockets installed in the centre to ease projector and computer use and writing boards and furniture that can easily be repositioned. This makes it easier for teachers to step away from the teacher-centered approach and use ICT as an extra learning tool.
While classroom areas have received most attention, libraries have not been forgotten. Libraries are the centre of learning, so it is essential to create an engaging learning environment. Innovations such as small working rooms for groups, wireless internet and availability of computers have transformed libraries in the National Teachers’ Colleges into a hub of knowledge with user-friendly facilities.