On the 18th of March 2020, the President of Uganda issued orders for all institutions of learning in Uganda to halt operations. Schools were given 2 days to ensure all students had left their respective schools. Naturally, this let many teachers and parents in shock but this was just one of the measures to counter the spread on the novel Corona Virus that was bringing the world on its knees.
As the fight against the impact of COVID-19 intensified, the President, on the 25th of March issued another directive ordering all means of public transport of the streets. This practically meant a lockdown where people were forced to stay at home.
In our kind of economy, staying at home voluntarily is rare. In the two days I am staying at home, here are five things I have been forced to learn, even when I had a clue.
Lesson 1: A serious school needs an online presence.
On day one of the lockdown, I received numerous calls from the several headteachers asking me how much it cost to have a website. The schools that had websites in place simply uploaded their students study resources online and didn’t have to panic. One such school is St. Lawrence Schools and Colleges which sent parents a message with a link to the resources.
While other schools were struggling how they would do the same at short notice, schools like Gayaza High School has had an elearning link for a long time. Midfield Secondary School along Entebbe Rd. is another school that has for a long time offered been availing learning resources on the school website.
It should also be noted that an online presence doesn’t only mean having a website but also platforms like Facebook, WhatsApp, Google Classrooms, Zoom and the like.
Lesson 2: Diversify your sources of income
Although I have heard this since my school days, the lock down brings a more concrete justification as to why anyone should diversify their sources of income. As teachers, singly relying on our salaries should never be an option.
Read also: 10 business ideas for teachers of ICT
Not many of us as teachers can comfortably depend on a month’s salary under these circumstances. Depending on the length of the lockdown, a month’s salary will run out very soon due to the fact that the prices of most items are rising every day.
Lesson 3: You can handle a class even when you are miles away from your students
With the several options that have come to our knowledge in the recent days,it is now evident that technologies that enable us to teach have always been readily availbale.
YouTube and Skype have been around since the mid 2000s. With these, you can share lesson videos or hold conference calls with a class virtually from any place on earth. The popularity of social networking platforms like Facebook and WhatsApp has also made it possible to hold sessions through live interactive sessions.
Personally, I had never come across zoom but many teachers are using this platform to hold classes with their students who are locked up in their homes. All these tools are available for both desktop and mobile.
Jackie Mbatudde, a teacher of Ndejje SSS has taken it further by making a personal website dedicated to teaching mathematics to her students. Her website, https://teacherjackie.ml also has a chat functionality where students can instantly send their questions and get feedback from her.
Lesson 4: You can earn a living working at home
A friend of mine, Charlotte Beauvoisin has worked at home since 2009. To me, this was just another way unconventional way of doing things and always thought it didn’t fit in our African culture.
This lockdown has opened my mind and it is now more evident that working from home is very possible. What is now clear is that I don’t need expensive office space to design websites, teach or repair computers. I have done the 3 of these i the comfort of my home in the last 3 days.
What I have o adjust to is how best I can do this. Luckily, Charlotte will be giving us tips on how best to work at home next Friday at our first online WordPress meetup.
Lesson 5: You can transact without handling physical cash.
I also noticed that almost everyone around me had a Mobile Money number. I was surprised when a boda boda man asked me to deposit my transport fare on his phone. He was quick to add that since his job required handling physical cash all day, it wasn’t safe for him during this period.
I went on to pay for my electricity bill, ordered or supplies at the local retailer, paid a debt and stocked enough movies, all without handling physical cash.
Stephen Dumba is the co-ordinator Central Region ICT Teachers Association of Uganda. Besides teaching, he is a veteran Computer Repair Technician and a Web Designer
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