With over 10 countries in Africa actively engaged in education reforms, it’s clear that there is an international movement calling for a transformation of traditional education. This movement emphasizes the need to move away from lecture and rote memorization and toward practical, student-centered, and skills-based education methods that lead to better educational and life outcomes for youth.
In May, Uganda was at the center of this movement. In partnership with the Ugandan Ministry of Education and Sports, Educate! hosted our 3rd annual Global Education Conference. The conference brought together key stakeholders, including government education officials, education researchers and policy experts, and dedicated teachers from across the country. These groups joined forces to drive forward critical conversations around the future of education in Africa, and the integral role that teachers play in catalyzing the movement for skills-based education.
The theme of this year’s conference was Teacher Leadership- Proving Change is Possible: Teachers Leading Skills-Based Education into the Future. 560 teachers attended the conference at three venues across Uganda, eager to gain the tools they need to provide the best education for their students. Throughout the day, teachers strengthened their skills in workshops, engaged in dialogues with government officials and education experts, and affirmed that they didn’t need to wait for a nationwide curriculum reform in order to see changes in their classroom; they had the power to begin the movement themselves.
With Skills Lab, the innovative teaching model that puts students at the center of their own learning and promotes the practical application of skills, teachers can disrupt the all too common practice of lecture-based learning by inviting students to participate in their own discoveries. Borrowing from the term ‘science labs’, Skills Lab is the experiential education pedagogy aspect of our model (i.e. the way we teach students by doing). Skills Labs give teachers a structure to use for any subject to make learning more interesting, student-focused, and practical. Skills Labs focus on engaged group work, hands on learning, and presentation skills. Best practices for conducting Skills Labs were reinforced throughout the day, and teachers built their network of support for implementing Skills Labs by exchanging contact information with other teachers on the frontline of the movement.
The attendance of government officials underscored the educational value of implementing skills-based techniques in the classroom and motivated teachers to engage their colleagues in similar practices. Guests of Honor included Kule Baritazare, the Commissioner of Secondary at the Ministry of Education and Sports, and Henry Ssemakula, Senior Education Officer at the Ministry of Education and Sports. Both staunch supporters of the skills-based approach, they shared with the teacher audience that students are "tired of taking notes” and are seeking more from their teachers. They emphasized the importance of skills-based education for enabling students to develop the soft and hard skills that will let them succeed after school.
The Global Conference was an important step forward in transforming education to be more practical and skills-based across the country. It was inspiring and motivating to see strong support from teachers and government officials from across East Africa, as they came together to affirm their commitment to giving students the best education possible. We’re proud to stand side by side with these education leaders to drive forward the change that will guarantee better opportunities for youth after secondary school.
See all of our Global Conference photos on the official Educate! Flickr account!