Day 3 – The 11th Pan-African Literacy For All Conference

Parting is such sweet sorrow.

– Shakespeare

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

3. Summarization

4. Synthesis

5. Augmentation

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 ZambiaπŸ–

PS: follow the hashtag #PALFA2019Kampala on twitter to catch all you may have missed over the 3 days.

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Day 2 – The 11th Pan-African Literacy For All Conference

The skies were clear and so was the goal on day 2 of the PALFA Conference: Finding ways to ensure practically implementing all the information deliberated upon.

The resolve couldn’t be any less after the president of Uganda, H.E Yoweri Museveni had graced the cocktail the previous evening and spoken of his government’s support for the cause that’s brought delegates from all around the continent to the Ugandan capital, Kampala.

The day kicked off with a keynote address by the well read, renown academician Prof. Mahmood Mamdani who spoke of the interplay between language and literacy. He drew from various historical events around the continent and the rest of the world to emphasize the role that colonial and post colonial trends played in influencing the approach to literacy.

In his concluding remarks, Dr. Mamdani echoed the need for research to be a core part of higher education. He further urged the delegates to look at higher learning and basic education as linked. Likening the two to body parts that help to make the whole body of literacy, he closed his address and set the tone for yet another day of deliberations. The quiet attentive room was evidence of the depth and potency of his well researched address. A more in depth look at segment can be found at

THE PLACE OF RESEARCH IN LITERACY

The keynote address was followed by a round-table discussion on Equitable Literacy Policy and Practice for Better Education Outcomes. The discussants were: From the Basic Education Department of the Ministry of Education: Dr. Charles Tonny Lusambu; World Bank/GPE: Ms. Caroline Kavuma; TWAWEZA: Dr. Goretti Nakabugo; NCDC: Dr. Angella Kyagaba, RTI/SHRP: Dr. Robinah Kyeyune. The experienced panel under the guidance Hajji Abbey Musoke deliberated on the implementation of equitable policy both by government and its partners such as Twaweza.

Next was the parallel sessions.One such session was on Rethinking Literacy and Inclusion.Crystal Rutangye presented a paper on Inclusion of Trade Books in School Curriculums for Increased Literacy Levels which focuses on the role played by non-academic books in pushing the development of literacy through the promotion of a reading culture.

In her paper, Rutangye notes that in order to achieve increased literacy levels, it is important for all stakeholders involved to include these trade books in the teaching curriculum and in effect develop the Children’s ability to lead, comprehend information and impact society in the long run.

In a subsequent session I had the privilege of attending, Tanya Spronk presented a paper on β€œA New Country, A New Curriculum!” Using South Sudan’s National Languages to build a bridge to educational equity.

One notable thing she stressed was how the use of mother tongues in the foundation classes helps in inclusion of girls and women in education. Its ability to promote their literacy helps them in terms of confidence and leadership.

Tanzanian educator Matteo Mwita also presented his paper: Examining the Teaching of Reading in Early Years Classes: A Case of a Primary School In Mpwapwa.

The lunch that came shortly after was a well deserved one after a morning of potent discussion.Dr. Sakil Malik, an education expert working with DAI, delivered the third keynote address. A man who practices what he preaches, Dr. Malik gave his address in a unique manner. He made the audience engage in small group discussions, present their findings. Inclusion at its very best.

What matters most in literacy is that you understand. If you can recite the Quran or Bible, but can’t understand how will you know what God is telling you throuch the book.- Dr. Sakil Malik

Dr. Malik stressed the need to teach teachers the way they’re needed to teach as opposed to piling them with content.Interactive parallel sessions covering topics ranging from literacy teaching and coaching across the curriculum, early childhood teaching and learning, the role of mother tongue to Literacy Curricula For Equitable Student Achievement closed the deliberations for the day.A dinner and cultural dance at Silver Springs came just in time to help the delegates wind down and network with fellow brilliant minds.#PALFA2019Kampala

Day One – The 11th Pan-African Literacy For All (PALFA) Conference

‘Literacy: A bridge to equity.’That was the theme as this morning, the Kampala Serena Hotel opened its doors to a host of delegates from countries in and out of the continent ready to deliberate on literacy at the #PALFA2019Kampala Conference.

In her keynote address, Dr. Robinah Kyeyune brought her thirty years of experience to the table by challenging everyone in the room with a number of questions asking us all to work towards closing the gap. She used an analogy from Commerce and asked us to look at the gains as assets and what we haven’t attained as liabilities then work around bridging the gap between the two.

The chief guest, Hon. Rosemary Seninde, representing the Minister of Education and Sports Mrs. Janet Museveni, in her remarks echoed the need to act on Dr. Kyeyune’s remarks.

I had the privilege of attending the first parallel session on Early Childhood Teaching and Learning. It was a beautiful thing to see how much knowledge and research has gone into the development of Early Learning teaching methods.

APETA, Brenda presented: Interactive and Fun: Employing Engaging Pedagogical Practices and Materials in Literacy Instruction (WORKSHOP) and some of the materials are shown below.

TUMUSIIME, Judith Nyakaisiki, MUGURUSI, David & NASSEREKA, Faridah: Early Childhood Education: A catalyst for quality and life-long learning in Uganda (PAPER)

HAJJ, Ismail Musoke & KAHEREBU, Aminah: Teacher Education and Development – Pre-Primary Teacher Training: Sustainable, Cost-Effective Coaching and Mentoring Approaches: The Madrasa Experience (PAPER) which received the approval of the delegates in the audience for its identification of the pertinent needs and provision of sustainable solutions.

MIDDENDORP, Janet van: Evaluation of a KG (Kinder Garten) programme in 6 minority languages in Bench Maji, Ethiopia (PAPER) which is a practical and inclusive model that has registered success in practice.

AMANIYO, Lillian & ANDEMA, Samuel : Using the Multiliteracies Pedagogical Approach to Improve the Teaching of English Language Teaching in Uganda (PAPER) which, even though is designed for secondary schools, left the delegates involved in Early Childhood learning asking pertinent questions of themselves.

In general, it’s safe to say the first day went well. We look forward to the rest of the conference.

Follow the hashtag #PALFA2019Kampala to join the conversation on twitter.

My top 10 (or less) self-care tips

Yesterday, after a lovely evening of interacting with the Afrobloggers takeover guest Madeline Ojo on twitter, I was challenged to try her year long blogging timetable. You can find it at https://t.co/PN4DtXkNGN?amp=1.

As fate would have it this week’s challenge is writing up my top 10 self care tips. If you’re reading this and are clueless about self care tips then we are on the same exact page πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚. Plus it’s a topic that’s been covered quite a bit in recent years.

However, I will drop a few tips that have come in handy when I have taken self-care as seriously as I should – as we all should.

1. Spending Time Alone

Deliberately taking time off every once in a while to just sit back and relax without the distractions of work, family and the phone. Yes! Put the phone away for a few days and just spend time reflecting or soaking your feet in water. Whatever works for you. In this world that’s insane on a regular, keeping off or staying in it could be the make or break factor for you.

2. Have a laugh

When was the last time you had a hearty laugh? Life gets serious real quick and those quick sands won’t hesitate to take you down. So have a laugh. Find an old comedy and laugh your heart out. My mother loves Mrs Doubtfire and it cracks her up each time. You could watch that.

What makes you laugh? Who makes you laugh? Grab a hold and don’t let go. At least not until you absolutely have to.

You can just sit in a park and create scenes in your mind. Imagine what the butterflies might be saying to each other.

I don’t recommend memes for a self care laugh πŸ˜‚ though.

I’m on a roll here fam. πŸ˜…

3. Exercise sucks but your life will suck more without it

Exercising sucks. Especially when you’re stuck with all these muscle pains the following morning. But few things are as necessary as it is. Life can be fast paced and demanding. Work, family, school all require the best version of you and that’s definitely going to have to be a healthy version. Besides, your body is the Lord’s temple. You have no choice but to make healthy choices like eating healthy (fruits are not costly) and exercising regularly.

That said, I should follow my own advice πŸ˜‚

PS: All that sweat in the gym is a good way to disguise your own tears if you need to cry over something πŸ˜‚

4. Rest

Heard that one before? Yeah. And you’re going to hear it more and more because it’s that important. God rested. So what business do you who was created 6 days into the creation week have not resting? But rest won’t come chasing after you friend. You’ll have to deliberately take it and use it. Schedule it. Make it official.

5. Good company pays, bad company will run you bankrupt

Yeah. It’s in your best interest to keep around you a whole host of men, women, children, music, books and even pets that have a positive vibe. You’re far too valuable to be thrown to the pigs. So don’t be throwing yourself to the pigs. In the same way, be a positive addition to the lives of others. It’s a full circle thing. Add value, seek value and there’ll be lots of value around for us all.

I have some wonderful friends and I don’t take that for granted. They keep me sharp encouraged and having them around has been quite the self care routine.

6. Get a massage

If you can afford it. If you can’t and you’re male, go get a haircut above your usual pay grade. I’ve found that they usually come with a free head massage πŸ˜‚. At least in parts of Uganda. I don’t know about women though.

My point is, get some steam off your body with a soothing relaxing activity. Get your nails done or something.

7. Make some money

I am convinced that being broke is highest on the top stress causes list. Have you ever been sad with no idea what was wrong? You were probably broke. And while self care should ideally be low cost, it will do you good to be able to spend on yourself a little.

8. Look good, feel good

Self care is intended to keep you feeling good about yourself. Am I right? If I am that is going to include confidence and what better way to boost your confidence than with some nice looking clothes. For the men, a well groomed look once in a while will leave you feeling like you’re the man! And there is very few greater feelings.

I know some of you rock fancy clothing on a regular and that is wonderful but if like me you wish Adam and Eve hadn’t sinned and caused us to have to cover our bare skin, then this tip is very very helpful.

9. I’m tired

…because I really hadn’t planned for this. Like I mentioned earlier scheduling your self care routine will ensure it actually happens. So get scheduling.

Also, just scheduling your daily activities will help you stay on top of things and reduce the stress that comes with unfinished work and random engagements.

10. It’s not just for fancy people or people with happy wallets.

This should be the first tip but oh well. Self care is very important if you’re going to be useful to yourself, your work, family and society. We deserve the best of you. You deserve the best of you.

If everything on this list fails, hug someone or just hug yourself. That’s one sure way to care for self.

My self care tips may be a little out of the norm. In fact they may not even be self care tips at all πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚ but writing is self care for me so boo ya if they’re not.

Thank you for dropping by 😊😊.

Be sure to drop your own self-care tips in the commentsπŸ˜‰ and like the post so that I can also look like a serious blogger πŸ˜‚.

Have a wonderful week.

Remember you matter! Yes you!

Oh (un)happy day! πŸŽΆ

Stuck in traffic. The bad kind. The stagnant kind. The one right outside SHOPRITE mall in Kampala. Yes, that one! And that’s not the worst part. I’m in a matatu. The bad kind. The smelly, scruffy kind. A couple of bad breaths and men who smell like saliva is the only moisture that has had the privilege of getting into contact with their bodies since Easter.

I open the window I’m seated next to. Oh, relief! A lady beggar walks to the window. I almost cry. No, not because I’m touched by her condition. She is blocking the only source of fresh air (Kampala air is anything but fresh but it’s all we got so hey!) She walks away. Good relief! I stop and think “Oh my, I’m a bad person. Instead of thinking about her plight Im worried about oxygen I knew I wasnt going to get in the first place.” I immediately brush off the thought. The beggars in Kampala work for someone else and I can’t support such a selfish user. I tell myself that. That’s what I always tell myself.

My train of thought is disrupted. My neighbour is answering a call. It’s bad. Very bad. Not the call. I mean his breath. What am I going do!? I’m going die! I’m having a panic attack and it is so stupid, so petty and absolutely unnecessary. But I’m human, right? I’m allowed to overreact sometimes, right?

I interrupt my mental fray with the thought “What if I bought some mints and passed them around? That would be generous and would solve some of the problem. BOOM! I’m a genius.” But my black behind has been Ugandan long enough to know that that gesture won’t go down well with them and I’d need Ugandan MP level security with the truck and bodyguards and all to be able to walk out of the matatu alive. So I do what I know my security level can allow me to do and leave with minimal damage: I pull out my phone and type this.

There is Something About Mondays

There is something about Mondays.

No, it is not the fact (in the blue mood indigo corner) that the weekend has come to an end and a new, possibly drab, week is upon us. It is not the nauseating traffic jam and it definitely isn’t (in the red optimistic corner) the start of a great new week! Yeeey!

There is something about Mondays.

No, it is not the boring start of week meeting. It definitely isn’t having hundreds of emails to respond to. It’s not even the piping hot coffee (mmmπŸ˜‹πŸ˜‹) served with delicious croissants and it is NOT having tea with lip-smacking katogo at Mama Sarah’s down the street from the office.

There is something about Mondays.

No, it is not fact that you have to suffocate in those office smart clothes so you won’t get sent back home for wearing a t-shirt with a digestive system on it (Yep! I once got sent back home for rocking a bold tee to work on a MondayπŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚). It’s not even the fact that you get to show off your shoe polishing skills with your black shoes polished to mirror level perfection πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚.

There is something about Mondays!

I guess it’s about time I said it, innit? Well, Monday is when Church begins. No, no, no, not the activity that involves people gathering in a building. I mean church! Monday is when you get the opportunity to put into practice the stuff you heard or learnt on Sunday that left you itching to conquer the world. Monday is when you go out to love people like a problem. It’s when you begin to impact society (or really your little part of society) in a profoundly positive way. It is when you begin to show appreciation to people around you. It’s when you start to be the most amazing version of you. It’s when you begin doing your job as diligently as possible. You catch my drift! It’s when you begin to infiltrate this dark world with your light. Monday is the day you begin to BE Church!

Church begins on Monday! And guess who can be church…yes! You!

– Pius Andru’da

Of Monsters and Men

Monsters? Men?

They were one and the same to her

Always hungry for the kill!
With them,a tragic history she shared

Black,white or red..

Each was just as deadly as the next ogre in the storybooks she read as a child
And just like those ogres,they were best kept away from

They’d beaten her

Ripped her heart apart

Cooked her brains

Devoured all happiness from her soul

Everybody called them Tom,Joe,Mark
All she saw was monster, beast, monster
She used to blame herself
Maybe I’m a monster making machine

She’d thought

But those days were gone now
SHE was the damsel in distress
But where was her knight in shining armour??
Aaargh,another man,another beast

So she let her hair loose and hung her head and said a little prayer
Would it be answered?
She lay there anyway

She lay there waiting

Waiting for the day the monsters would be slain..
Waiting for the end of Monsters and Men!

-Pius Andruda

My Janello

Janello,
From the day I met you I became a possessed man
I see a piece of you in every beautiful woman I meet
I no longer see women, I see versions of you.

Janello,
Your words are an incantation serenading me to a sacrificial altar
Your touch is an initiation into your cult of love

Janello,
Forgive me when I close my eyes in your presence
For to look at you and to think of you with my eyes open feels like blasphemy
Janello,
I love you

I don’t know if these emotions will last forever
but I know this:
What God has put together, no man can separate
I know that I choose you!

My Janello!

So, moving on…

I have had a blog for nearly two years. It looks like one that has been here a third of that timeπŸ˜…. Anyways, for months now I have received taunts of all kinds from some of my classmates because I blog and write poetry. Initially it bothered me. I often took offense (I’m still angry at myself for being so gullible😀😀) and it took all that was in me to stay calm and smile. Thank God I did each timeπŸ˜‚. A few years ago that would be a punch in the face or a particularly snide reply to send you to your momma in tears. Thank God for His grace πŸ™.

A while later it struck me that most people only applaud the things that keep you mediocre. Anything that catapults you in the opposite direction is an enemy. Don’t get me wrong. My classmates are great. But it’s natural (I hope not) to resist anything that throws us out of our comfort zones and in the face of greater things. Even when we see people we know taking that path, we get defensive. I must admit the constant (sometimes very unpleasant) taunts pulled me away slowly till I stopped posting as regularly as necessary. Of course there were other self induced factors but that is a story for another day.

Strangely, I wasn’t listening to my devoted readers or the people that kept asking me to keep writing. I recall how about a fortnight ago a friend read some of the content and said she loved it and offered to help with the process of making the content even better. I recall thinking ‘You love me, not the content.’ πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚

I was hung up on the fewer voices of opposition including the ones in my own head. But now I know growth isn’t an easy thing and there’ll be resistance. Some external and definitely some internal. Focus!

Also, pull the people around you as well. Try and fail but dont fail to try. Maybe if I wasn’t pushing on alone those taunts would never be there.

The experience may be different for you and perhaps in a different probably more serious aspect.

This morning, I urge you to stay focused on the goal! Remember who called you. Remember why you’re here. Then close your eyes, stretch your lips for a smile, put one foot forward and keep moving! 😊😊

Now pull your people forward along with you!

God bless you!