After two years of lobbying and contacting education authorities about curriculum reform, particularly in the teaching of reading, I finally have a one-day presentation scheduled for next month with the education commissioner, curriculum specialists, Ministry of Education officials and representatives from the National Curriculum Development Committee (NCDC) of Uganda.
I am pretty stoked that this event is planned – quite incredible to get all these education ‘bigwigs’ together to listen to what I have to say.
I have been in communication with the Head of Primary at the NCDC planning this for a few months now. Initially, I had planned for a two-day training event. I was going to present key skills in teaching reading, then make a presentation about a heavily funded reading program which (to be brutally honest) is lots of money and resources to make rote learning easier. Thanks for that one NGO world! You are making my life easier (not!)
I was asked if I would contribute to a transport refund for people from other offices attending. The people from other offices are all highly paid government or charity education workers. ‘Transport refund’ is a term used
to describe paying people to attend your meeting or training. This started out as a well-meaning ‘carrot’ by NGOs to gather people for meetings for important information about a range of topics. Nowadays, people will say it is part of local culture.
Here in Gulu I have conducted possibly more than 50 training events but never once have I given ‘transport refund’. I have actually tried to put this western-introduced idea on its head by asking schools to refund my transport. Which means schools will pay me the cost of my boda (motorbike taxi) to school; this on average is a $2.50 (£1.30) return journey. Part of encouraging locals to invest in the training means they take ownership of it and are more likely to implement it.
So, can you guess what my response was when I was asked to supply a transport refund to these highly paid professionals living in Kampala? I said no.
I was notified this week that the two days of training and presentations have been reduced to one day because I am not supplying a transport refund. The Head of Primary Curriculum
said to me if after the first day those attending do not receive a ‘transport refund’ then they would not return for the second day.
Oh well – one day it is then.
The presentations are planned for Wednesday, May 25. Please pray that this day will go ahead! That it will not be cancelled, and for the preparations that will go into it. Pray I will be able to effectively inform the key education stakeholders about the key skills involved in reading and what is needed to help reform education here. And that, hopefully, one day in the future this can be acted upon.