As you grow older, the wiser and wider someone’s reasoning always grows; at least in most people. I do recall, while in English class around Primary 5 when we were taught Proverbs, Similes, and everything along that line, and this quote stood out for me.

Many years down, I have come to appreciate some of these sayings, as I have seen them make more sense each and every day that passes by.

“You Can’t Teach An Old Dog New Tricks”; quite deep, huh! 🤔 Meriam Webster defines the statement as one that’s — used to say that a person who is old or is used to doing things in a certain way cannot learn or does not want to learn a new way. I tried showing my grandpa how to use a game console controller, but it seems you can’t teach an old dog new tricks because he didn’t seem to get it. He preferred mobile gaming instead.

Being a social media influencer & digital communications person, this statement popped up in my head during a webinar of one of the projects I’ve handled was ongoing.

Well, as we might all be aware, schools and learning institutions in home country – Uganda will as well as the entire economy be fully be re-opened in January, 2022 after more than 77 weeks of being closed due to the onset of COVID-19; which made this period the longest anywhere in the world.

During the period of schools’ closure, according to the news, and events going around, students and pupils as well as teachers have gone through it; I mean, some teachers have had to seek alternative sources of revenue, students continuing to face challenges of child labor, teenage pregnancies, forced early marriage, mental health strain (due to being away from their friends and the never ending promise of reopening that hasn’t happened since last year, and so forth.

While speaking to Africa News; 16-year-old child gold miner Annet Aita in Busia explained how her long stay out of school is having a negative toll on her as she no longer has the desire to read.

“Staying at home sometimes, you cannot have the morale to read books and you can just somehow, sometimes just forget what they taught you at school. Then you just stop even reading books because they have been telling us that we are going back to school, you are going back to school. You wait until you just get tired, and you just can’t even read a book.”

In the meantime, studying from home material was “circulated” countrywide & some TVs + Radios took it upon themselves to broadcast and provide free home coaching on air, and telecoms introduced bundles and material too to enable the learning process continue. NGOs like Education Cannot Wait as a response to the children’s learning needs also distributed material.

Still in the same vein, some parents adopted having their children home schooled, and of course e-learning with technologies like Zoom and Google Meets coming into play.

As earlier stated in the opening paragraph here, while executing work for the 6th episode of the e-dialogues, one of the panelists highlighted how many schools have taken up Open Distance E-Learning (ODeL) a learning/ teaching model which gives students, who have to fulfil multiple roles and are affected by the barriers of distance, cost and time, an opportunity to pursue their studies online’ but in this case being COVID19 and closure of schools yet syllabus has got to be finished, yeah?

She stated that the next generation of employers might encounter challenges as they employ people who’ve achieved their education during these times of the pandemic. Why? If we were quite honest with ourselves, on a scale of 20 how would you rate the effectiveness of this e-learning thing? Exactly.

Not in a bad way, but trust me, I also badly want to be through with this course already… 😂😁 , because what was 3 years is turning into 5! We are literally studying just to complete, not to really understand or conceptualize cuz our mental just like Annet mentioned has lost morale and are just doing it for the sake of finishing studying, teachers getting their salary and we move on.

ODeL is such a wonderful idea; just in a wrong generation. Picture someone who’s been physically going to class for over 12 years, their mind has always been tuned to a teacher standing in front of them to deliver a class/ subject, now having to sit on a gadget, open Zoom and follow the class. It’s hard paper if we are to consider effectiveness of learning here, which is where the title of this piece comes in. Not to mention the inconsistences in some teachers not showing up to teach, plus the challenges of little smartphone/ technology penetration upcountry, and unreliable internet speeds. 🥺

Tech savvy: smart boards at Kihangire
Students Attending A Lesson (Picture: Courtesy)

In my opinion, going forward, e-learning and technologies should be priotized right from the get go of Baby Class, Elementary School, so the children can grow up used to and exposed to these learning approaches, as opposed to introducing them to them later in life nga its too late.