Uganda’s education ministry still planning to procure radio sets for learners

Angela Kamara, 6 years old, takes a lesson from the radio. COURTESY PHOTO

Kampala, Uganda | URN | The Ministry of Education and Sports has not yet given up on their idea of buying and distributing radio sets to facilitate what they have termed as long-distance learning.

While addressing journalists at Nakasero statehouse on Friday afternoon, the education minister, First Lady Janet Museveni revealed that the ministry is still pursuing means of accessing funds to procure the said radio sets.

Mrs. Museveni says that the radio sets are needed to complement long-distance learning for non-candidate learners who are going to be attending school in a staggered manner or in shifts where some will be attending classes as others remain home and learn via broadcast lessons and with help of self-help materials.

The ministry had requested 336.8 billion shillings for procurement of 9 million radio sets where each homestead in the country would receive a radio set. However, parliamentarians refused to approve the budget saying it was an unwise expenditure that was in any case overtaken by events as phased re-opening got underway.

The MPs also queried the competence of the local firm – Orion Transformers and Electrics Limited -which was being fronted by the Education and Sports Ministry to supply the said radio sets. During their visit to the company, MPs found out that it was dealing in assembling transformers and woofers.

According to Ministry, the firm was expected to supply 5 million radio sets valued at 33,000 Shillings each while the remaining 4 million radio sets were to be imported at 42,000 Shillings each.

President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni who was addressing that nation on Thursday night also highlighted the importance of the radio sets in long-distance learning. He noted that the programme had been sabotaged at a time when he has busy campaigning.

In addition to the radios, the ministry is also planning to distribute self-study materials to all learners. This programme too has had challenges as it was expected to be rolled out in August last year but kept being postponing due to funding gaps.

However, the Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Education and Sports, Alex Kakooza, notes that some of the printed self-study materials have already been delivered by contracted publishing companies and are ready for distribution.

Without specifying, Kakooza adds that there a few classes whose material are not yet printed but confirms that the ministry has embarked on the procurement process and expects to fast track it so that they are ready by the time of reopening.

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Unlike last time when the government contracted New Vision, Kakooza says that this time government has solicited services from several publishing companies including MK and Fountain Publishers.

However, he refused to disclose the amount of money spent on the programme. And though they have now had a longer time to prepare the orders, he did not say whether PPDA requirements had been followed.

Kakooza says that learners will be using the material to cover given content and as their shift to be at school comes, teachers will be guiding and assessing them. He further notes that unlike the previous time, the materials will be distributed through schools.