KAMPALA: They can now bring their phones to class at Nakasero Senior School in Kampala, Uganda, after the school’s management gave the go-ahead.
Godfrey Mubiru, the Director of Studies at Nakasero Senior School, says that they took the decision to allow the learners to use smartphones to facilitate the implementation of the new lower secondary curriculum.
Mubiru explains that they found it important as a school to allow the learners to use smartphones due to the demands of the new lower secondary curriculum, which is hands-on and more learner-centred.
According to Mubiru, the new curriculum requires learners to carry out their own research and write notes. The teacher’s role ends with introducing the topic and helping the learners form groups to research and share knowledge among themselves.
He also explains that smartphones have since helped them to solve the challenge of the limited learners’ guides for the new lower secondary curriculum, as every student can now download the material using their smartphones for effective learning.
Currently, Uganda lacks an approved ICT policy on education, which would have set standards for the formal education sector.
However, Mubiru explains that the school came up with its own regulations on how the learners are expected to use their phones in school, knowing that they can easily lead to disruptions of the learners’ attention.
The learners deposit the phones in the DOS’s office with clear identification immediately after they report to school. According to Mubiru, the learners only use the phones during class time under the supervision of the subject teacher.
Godwine Nuwagaba, a Senior One student says that it was not easy to convince his parents to provide him with a smartphone for learning purposes.
He, however, says that they gave in after realising that the school would be in charge of the phones during school hours.
He explains that apart from the challenge of data, they find it easy to research the different topics assigned to them.
Ester Namayanja, another student, says that despite the fact that she owned a smartphone prior to the school clearance, she never imagined using it at school.
She says using her smartphone for studies has been the best thing for her, especially when it comes to research and self-revision.
Namayanja allays fears that they will be distracted by the phones by saying they will only use them under the strict supervision of their teachers.
Previously, carrying a mobile phone to school would be punishable and, in some cases, lead to expulsion. However, last year, the ministry of education and sports allowed student teachers to carry phones.
Dr. Jane Egau, the Director of Teacher Training and Education, notes that this is a sensitive area, adding that the ministry has already embarked on the process of working on a national framework that will guide the integration of digital learning.