Parting is such sweet sorrow.
That popular saying perfectly describes the general feeling at the end of the successful event. 3days of intense, intentional deliberation came to an end today and the organizing team in Kampala can now heave a huge sigh of relief and go to bed satisfied.
The tone for this final day was set by a keynote address by CODE board member, Dr. Wendy Saul whose immense experience in education made her the perfect candidate to deliver the final keynote address of the conference.
In her address, she emphasized how all that had been learnt in the previous two days would go to waste if not contextualized by the delegates to fit their unique contexts. She echoed the fact that what works in the USA may not work in Abuja, and what works in Sudan may not apply in Zambia.
To achieve equity, the main goal of the conference, contextualizing all the information acquired here will have to be done to ensure that everyone has a chance at benefiting adequately from it.
With that said, it was back to business in the parallel sessions.
A wealth of information was shared in the parallel sessions I attended and more. Some of this came from education consultant, Audrey Dralega who spoke on how talk helps babies comprehend better. Yes! Talking to little children helps to expand their vocabulary and comprehension.
She shared a story about her father which she used to illustrate just how important it is for parents to be fully present in their children’s lives especially at an early stage.
Things like reading with and to them, giving them choices to make etc are paramount.
Her presentation was followed by a presentation by Zimbabwean Emely Muguwe from Midlands State University on Imparting Literacy Skills to Early Childhood Education Learners in Zimbabwean Rural Settings: Towards Achieving Educational Equity (PAPER)
In the next set of parallel sessions, I attended a session on The Role of ICT which had presentations by Dr. Thomas DeVere Wolsey of American University of Cairo, the youthful and intelligent Nimrod Muhanguzi from RTI (research done with Prossy Nannyombi) and Paula Saine of Miami University, Oxford, Ohio.
Dr. Wolsey spoke on Graphic Organizers for Reading Comprehension in the Second Language Classroom and made a case for students to be allowed and encouraged to make their own graphic organizers. He also presented 5 different organizers:
1. Text structure
2. Vocabulary Development
Nimrod Muhanguzi presented a research on the use of tablets by teacher coaches to improve their ability to support teachers for in-service training. He made a case for the inadequacy of the single pre-service training of teachers when dealing with a changing teaching environment.
The tablets are incorporated with useful tools developed by RTI International such as the android app Papaya.
His engaging, youthful style kept the room glued to his presentation.
Paula Saine of Miami University, Ohio made a presentation on Building Cross-cultural Competence in Classrooms with Literacy and Digital Technology (PAPER) in which she spoke of how the use of digital technology was used to aid a white upper-class American teacher be able to teach students from different cultural backgrounds than hers efficiently. The exercise was a success with the teacher’s class that included African children.
The final parallel session I attended featured a presentation by Joachim Bibuli of Save The Children Uganda of the paper Small Catch but Big Impact (Muhuruzi, Mary; Bibuli, Joachim)
The Closing Ceremony
A fitting close was accorded to the conference which was noted as a huge success by a representative of CODE, the organizing committee and the outgoing International Development Committee – Africa chairperson Ms. Margaret Muthiga.
Dr. Charles Lusambu represented the chief guest Hon. Rosemary Seninde, State Minister for Primary Education, and thanked the organizers, sponsors, the delegates and all involved for making the conference a success. The minister’s remarks, which he read, resounded the president and government’s support for literacy in the country.
The event ended on a high note with the declaration of Annette Mpuga, chairperson of the Reading Association of Uganda – the organizers, as the next Chairperson of the International Development Committee – Africa in the place of Ms Margaret Muthiga.
A huge win for Uganda such as this is a step in the right direction and if the success of this conference is anything to go by, Annette Mpuga will lead well.
All in all, the conference was a huge success.
The next PALFA Conference will be held in Zambia.
Over to you Zambia🖐
PS: follow the hashtag #PALFA2019Kampala on twitter to catch all you may have missed over the 3 days.