By Emiko Perea
The mom asked her son, “How’s school?”
“Okay,” the son mumbled back, soon after retreating to his room and spending the rest of the afternoon working on his assignments only to give up about halfway through and forcing himself to ask for help.
It’s a commonplace scenario for many parents and children around the world. It’s often not easy for students to open up to their teachers and parents about their future goals and struggles in school. Inspired to foster communication and positive relationships as a means to transform education, Global Peace Foundation (GPF) Uganda set up the Talk to Me Initiative for students to openly share their future goals and current challenges with teachers and parents.
The Talk to Me program is an extension of GPF’s Character and Creativity Initiative which seeks to make education more relevant in the twenty-first century by integrating character and creativity into all aspects of school culture towards the development of the whole person.
In July, the initiative inspired teachers to deepen their professional bond with their students to embody the student-centered learning approach endorsed by the Ministry of Education and Sports. The team behind the initiative asked the teachers to have a specific place for them to sit with their students and make themselves more available for the students to freely share their thoughts about school. The goal of the initiative was to motivate students to stay in school, uplift them as creative and moral leaders, and to have them aspire for careers in the future. Thus far, the Talk to Me initiative has been implemented in Kyambogo College Public School, Old Kampala Secondary Public School, Seroma Christian Private High School, and Mboma Girls Private School.
Mr. Bwire Christopher, a teacher from Mboma Girls School, shared that his students trusted him and confided in him the subjects they wanted to improve in after he took the time to talk with them. He noted that befriending the students was the best solution for resolving the students’ problems, including poor performance in schoolwork and behavior problems. He even asked other teachers he knew in Uganda to counsel and become mentors to the students to motivate them to stay in school and learn.
Meanwhile, Mrs. Aziida Nsubuga, the headteacher of Kasawo public Secondary school, declared that the Talk to Me Initiative had improved the behavior of the students with disciplinary problems and poor performance in classes. She asked students to appreciate their teachers and form close bonds with them. The Ministry of Education and Sports appreciated the Global Peace Foundation’s work in this initiative that invested in practices that developed teamwork, creativity, and leadership among students and teachers.