Handling large classes made easy by Learning through Play

Teacher Shukuru is proud to say, she received training in which using grouping, songs, and learning materials is enabling her to teach large classes with ease.

Aug 29, 2023

Teacher Shukuru joins pupils in a numbers game which she uses to teach children to identify numbers.

When you enter Teacher Shukuru’s class, you know from that moment that she understands Learning through Play! The Top Class at Bukere Primary School in Kyaka II Refugee Settlement is decorated with colourful teaching and learning materials, most of them locally made. The class is bubbling with excited learners between 5 and 6 years of age going through a Mathematics lesson. The topic is counting!   

Each child moves around the class asking classmates to identify the number they are displaying on the flash card, as the class sings; “show me your number, I am looking for number…”, the number being displayed. Getting the number right means the children can identify numbers.  

This is not all, to ensure they can count, teacher Shukuru leads the learners in an exercise also made exciting by a chant. “Mingle, mingle, mingle two, three or five”. Here, she calls out a number and children group themselves according to that number. If she says mingle three, they group themselves in groups of three. 

Learning through Play

Teacher Shukuru is a mother of five children, two boys and three girls, and one might think the evidently jovial mood in which she teaches her class is because of this. But motherliness aside, teacher Shukuru credits her behaviour in the classroom to the training she got on Learning through Play (LtP) in 2022. 

“Previously, I used to teach using just flashcards and writing on the blackboard. Today, I use songs and various teaching and learning materials. If I am going to teach shapes for instance, I use a song, mummy making chapatti, samosa and they guess which shape it is like chapatti for circle and samosa for triangle,” she says. 

Teacher Shukuru, a refugee from DR Congo, started her teaching journey nine years ago, in 2017. Although she is not formally trained as a teacher, she received a Caregiver’s training from UNICEF at Kabulasoke CORE Primary Teacher’s College. She started teaching with Middle Class. And with the LtP training, she says her teaching ability has grown. 

“I can even teach primary school pupils now. I have learnt how to handle large classes through grouping,” Shukuru says. 

Learning through Play

With funding from LEGO Foundation, the International Rescue Committee together with consortium partners, Plan International and WarChildHolland are implementing the PlayMatters project in nine refugee hosting districts in Uganda including Lamwo, Adjumani, Madi-Okollo, Obongi, Terego, Yumbe, Isingiro, Kyegegwa and Kikuube. Under the project, teachers like Shukuru have received training on Learning through Play; an active teaching and learning method in which children learn through guided, hands-on, meaningful, play-based interactions in safe and inclusive environments. 

The project is being implemented in three countries; Uganda, Ethiopia and Tanzania. In Uganda, currently, more than 2,200 teachers have been trained by the consortium, over 180 schools reached, and more than 43,600 children enrolled in LtP activities. 

Learning through Play

According to Justus Bahati, the head teacher Bukere Primary School, since teachers received LtP training, the attendance of learners has increased because of the way teachers now handle classes. “Teachers now have talking classes, group work and teaching and learning materials,” he says. 

Bahati indicates that the enrollment of the school has also increased since PlayMatters mobilized learners through Back-to-School campaigns. The enrollment now stands at 4,053 learners up from 3,315 in 2022. 

“Before PlayMatters, the Early Childhood Development classes had 100 children. Today, it has 423 children being attended to by seven caregivers in a block of four classrooms renovated by the project,” Bahati says. 

And as Shukuru indicates, large classes are no longer a big challenge for teachers at the school since LtP training equipped them with skills on how to handle them.

Read more about how PlayMatters is reaching teachers and learners here.

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