The years 2020 and 2021 are unprecedented times in the education circles here in Uganda and world over. When schools were abruptly closed in March of 2020, little did we know that it would be a whole 2 years before some sense of sanity would be felt.
While some schools started online classes, most of them including traditional ones were hesitant to try out uncharted waters.
But of all the categories of learners that were affected most were those who had just joined Senior 1. The government had just introduced a new syllabus and it’s roll out met several obstacles. There were many unanswered questions, curriculum books were not ready and teachers were not yet trained.
Nevertheless, schools started picking up, classes started happening virtually with tools like Zoom, Google Classroom, Microsoft Teams, Google Meet and even some custom solutions. Some schools even embarked on intensive training of teachers in digital pedagogy and acclimatizing them with the tools that would ease delivery of lessons remotely.
While there was some movement in the right direction, there seemed to be no one concerned about the plight of the Senior 1 learner. Matters became even more confusing when a second lot of P.7 candidates sat for their UNEB exams. This meant that we officially had 2 Senior 1 classes. Like in many other cases, the Ministry of Education and Sports is not elaborate enough on how these two classes will be handled.
So, when I was invited to the launch of Senior1.org on 13th November 2021, I was all ready to find out how different they were from other online elearning platforms. The launch that was held virtually was understandably held via zoom and streamed via YouTube. With my questions ready, I logged in just in time for the start of the launch.
After an hour of listening to the initiators of the project, I was convinced that these were a new breed of solution for elearning in Uganda. However, the African in me kept telling me to first attend some of their classes to prove whether what they promised would be delivered.
True to their word, the first week was free to all learners. The teachers were so elaborate as they guided the learners through their respective subjects. I attended only 2 of their lessons and I would be a jerk if I continued to doubt this platform. Their well organised playlist of lesson videos is testimony to what me and other parents who were following closely can attest to.
The team at Senior1.org even saw it necessary to first give learners an overview of the entire syllabus by inviting a Mukalele Rogers a Master Trainer to talk to the learners – still virtually. In this one hour session, the Master Trainer took learners through what their classes would look like and how they would be assessed.
During the launch, the initiators promised that they would help the learner in 4 unique ways: Academics, Career Guidance, Counselling and Talent development.
As promised, on 19th November 2021 was careers day. Learners were given a break from academics and the teachers engaged the learners in as far as careers were concerned.
To prove their consistence, on 26th November 2021, a visiting doctor was invited to take learners through a health talk.
In one of the virtual lessons I attended, the teachers kept on reminding learners to send their articles which would be posted on the website. My last check on their blog, I indeed saw and read an article by a learner by the names of Yvette Lucy in which she describes her experience during the lock down.
Senior1.org comes almost 2 years since the initial lock down but of all platforms I have come across, this seems to be the only one that caters for the whole needs of a learner academically and emotionally yet in a fun and engaging way.