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When my Community says ‘Thank U’

Recognition such as this one encourages and motivates many. You rightly deserved the accolade and many more will come. Proud of you Adult Educator…

MY Career Uganda

 When my Community says ‘Thank U’

Accolate Robert Jjuuko

On a beautiful evening of 5 February 2018 at Nile Hotel Jinja, the great men and women who choose to serve humanity through their club – The Rotary Club of Njeru presented to me a Vocational Service Award in recognition of my humble contribution to the promotion of access to education and training opportunities to the socially disadvantaged young people and adults in our community. Indeed it is a  a pleasant surprise!;  thank you so much dear colleagues for this great reward.

A few minutes to the vocational service award ritual, I was granted an opportunity to share my thoughts and experiences. I led a conversation about ‘Vocation and Serving Humanity’ which I delivered in four segments:

1. Understanding the notion of vocation: From a Christian perspectives, vocation means a divine call to God’s service or to the Christian life. But literally it…

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Humanism at the expense of self; how far should one go?

As I reflect upon my life, I feel tears lingering in my eyes, which is typical of me because any emotional thought, experience or encounter brings tears in my eyes. The scientific explanation of this, I am yet to find. Yesterday [21st November 2016], as I was engaged in a very crucial activity, I received a call from one of my friends and former course mate. She was inquiring about how to go about the process of certification of her documents. I told her about the process and offered to help her with part of the process [getting the Reference number] for transacting payments. Luckily, she arrived when I had just finished the crucial activity I was engaged in. Together, we logged in to her student portal of the University and got the Reference number and she proceeded to pay.

I then received a call from a colleague informing me of an urgent email he had sent me with an advert for a training opportunity; the deadline was 5pm and I had barely five hours to submit the application. Before I finished thinking about and reflecting on the requirements and dates for the training, my friend calls again telling me the teller in the Bank had told her the Reference number was wrong; that the amount she wrote on the Bank slip was not tallying with the amount reflected on the Reference number. I did not believe it but I had to get another one for my friend to be able to pay. She had told me she was travelling to Gulu and was worried the process was delaying her. I called her and read the new number but this time I realized the grand total was not matching with the number of copies she wanted to certify. Normally, when you insert the number of items, the system automatically calculates and gives you the amount and grand total. Now, this was not happening and that is why the teller was getting wrong figures. I used my rudimentary tech skills to make the system bring the actual grand total but in vain. I don’t quit easily, so I continued, and finally got it. By this time, she was told to go to another bank because she had tried three times and the system was [sic]. When I read to her the last reference number [this time with actual grand total], she was not sure it was going to work but I told her it was. And indeed it worked. She paid and certified her documents and called to tell me she was done [I could hear in her tone that she was happy].

By this time it was coming to 3pm, I left for home because I had forgotten my PC charger and so was rushing home to see how I could beat the deadline for application for the training opportunity. As I left the office, I met two students who asked me if Mr. Garuzooka [one of my colleagues] was in office. I told them he was not. They then asked to be assisted with an approach to a question. I listened and guided them and they discovered they actually knew the approach but were not sure. I left them ‘happy’.

I boarded for Mukono, my home but given the ‘kavuyo’ [‘confusion’] on our roads, I reached home 20 minutes to 5pm. I could not modify my CV, answer the question – designing one hour training for 40 students [requirement for application] and write the application in 20 minutes. In short, I did not apply for this one time- opportunity because of time constraints. However, as I was in the shower later in the evening, I was thinking and asking myself, had I come a bit earlier, would I have submitted? Why did I know about the application ‘late’?

All my life, I have been a candidate for hospitality and good will from people; my family, my relatives, my friends, my teachers have all been so generous to me and that somehow has and influences how I deal with people and situations. And this reminds me of a lecture in my first year at University when my good friend, one of my best lecturers introduced to us the concept of Ubuntuism and it became a song for some time as we used to use the term to sway our pals to give in to what we wanted – I am, you are, and so we are; that we are what we are because of other people. Desmond Tu
tu, South African social rights activist and bishop [and coiner of Ubuntuism] puts it in this way; “My humanity is bound up in yours, for we can only be human together”. Life is a journey, some people have put it, and I somehow agree with the notion. That is why in some circumstances, we ought to put other people first and then our ‘self’ second. Humanistic approach to life enhances collaboration and builds connections. And connections are powerful forces for individual and collective transformation which I believe is essential for sustainable co-existence. I call upon humanity to exercise humanism. Let’s embrace diversity in all its forms and empower one another. I believe that’s what God expects of us.

Saul people-helping-others-in-need-helping-others-in-their-great-zaxt6t-clipartTumwine Nyangire – the andragogue

 

Why group discussions matter

It is examination season and anxiety is high among students. My Christian Religious Education teacher used to insert a statement “you reap what you sow” followed by a Bible verse Galatians 6:7 at the end of the questions – kind of his footnote. Later I came to learn that, our efforts determine what we get and how far we go. The implication of the verse in this context is that you cannot expect to do well in the exam if you did not attend lectures, did not do course works and generally if you did not read. So, our learning input is reflected in how well we perform in our exams.

I have been a student and still am and I know what it means to come to terms with hearing the word exam. It comes with some negative vibes – the degree differs of course but it is there in all of us whether old or young as long as you are a student.

We learn differently and therefore our teachers (read lecturers) use a ‘buffet’ of methods to ensure everyone is on board. Recently, group discussions (GDs) are at the fore front in classroom teaching and learning. Why? Because GDs are vital in building and assessing different skills including listening, analytical, presentation, communication among other many skills.

However, if an individual lecturer does not employ this method of teaching and learning, it will find its way at play during examination period. And I know even as you read this article, you could be in or from a group discussion. Personally I ‘hate’ reading stuff that I have been instructed to read and so all my academic journey I have been an advocate of GDs whether it is exam period or not. But truth be told, majority of us will not look into our note books unless and until it is exam period.

I have reaped big from GDs and so have my pals. I will tell you that we had a group discussion of six (6) members, and four (4) of us finished our bachelor’s degree with first class honors. The magic with GDs is that members come with many ideas and insights. You could have missed a point in class but a group member will drive it home in the GD forum. You will be mesmerized with what relevant examples members can share in GDs. It is these ideas that will stick hard and will help you enrich your answers as you write your papers. My course [Adult and Community Education] requires a student to use a rich experience of community issues and challenges, and so, if you are the kind who does not read news, watch ‘agatalikonfuufu’; you are the best candidate for a group discussion because you will get all that experience and examples that you need to convince the examiner that you understand community issues.

Group discussions are not that effective for everyone. Yes, not all GDs will be as effective. And so, if you are using them in preparation for exams, do them in a week or two prior to the start of exam.

How do you make GDs effective as you prepare for exams?

Here are my simple 7 tips to effective group discussion.

  1. Make the group small – at least ranging from 4 to 8 members.
  2. If you can, make the group gender balanced
  3. Agree on the group norms and stick to them
  4. Make use of past papers – they help you to give you an insight on how questions are set (most appropriate for fresh students)
  5. Assign yourselves topics or questions to partake prior to the discussion session
  6. Do not discuss for more than two hours without a break
  7. Avoid as much as possible to have most of your discussions in the afternoon. Effective discussions often times are done in morning hours

Whatever your learning style is; at one point you need to listen to and share with other people. GDs have been my secrete bullet and I attest to the marvelous harvests my group members and I have reaped. So, go on and read & discuss with your pals in preparation for exams. And good luck!

exam-revision
A discussion group preparing for exams in 2014

Saul Tumwine (aka Ogaa)

DES, BACE – Kyambogo University

MACE candidate – Makerere University

Mr. Tumwine is a former president and advisor of KACESA