Child-centred, playful teaching practices – educators in Uganda create three innovations to improve learning for pre-primary, primary and secondary students

01 December 2023
By Sarah James


It is well-known that when children are engaged in playful and joyful activities, learning happens naturally and information is retained all the more easily. It is for this reason that educators in Uganda have been working hard to design playful, creative and engaging activities that can boost student learning and performance across a range of disciplines and age ranges. Below are three of the latest practices that they have created, supported by Janat Namatovu, the Schools2030 National Coordinator for Uganda, and the rest of the Schools2030 team in Uganda.

The Taxi Game

DESIGNED BY: Nakasero Primary School
TO IMPROVE: Relationship Building
AGE GROUP: Pre-Primary

Teachers at Nasakero Primary School noticed how many students attending the school were extremely shy and struggled to interact with others. This was particularly acute because many of the children came from different tribes and thus had different cultural backgrounds.

The teachers came up with the ‘Taxi’ game, as this type of public/communal transport was something all the children were familiar with. In the game, two children (often the most shy or withdrawn) are assigned to be the driver and conductor, and they pick up passengers from the other students by loudly calling out instructions. The children will then pretend to disembark but they must say their names, spell the name of their village as well as the name of a favourite fruit or snack, for example. Thus they are not only enjoying fun and positive interactions but also improving their spelling and confidence.

The Reading Clinic

DESIGNED BY: Nansubuga Justine, Kiswa Primary School
TO IMPROVE: Literacy, Collaboration
AGE GROUP: Primary

Nansubuga Justine, a P4 teacher in Kiswa Primary School in Kampala, Uganda, has been participating in the Schools2030 programme and co-designing new, child-centred and play-based literacy methods to support her students to improve their reading and writing skills as well as to develop more collaborative mindsets. But she soon realised that to have real impact on student learning, she would need to engage other teachers and learners beyond her P4 classroom.

Through dedicated support and guidance from Janat Namatovu, Nansubuga Justine has expanded her literacy approaches into the “Reading Clinic” – an open space where all primary grade teachers and students in Kiswa Primary School can come to engage in playful learning opportunities. This not only helps spread the impact of child-centred literacy pedagogies, but allows a space for children of different ages to learn together. All the games are designed to appeal to learners with different reading levels and are differentiated to support continual skill growth, so students can grow with the “Reading Clinic” with more confident readers taking peer-support and mentorship role.

Meteorological Stars

DESIGNED BY: Modern Secondary School – Ocoko
TO IMPROVE: Numeracy, Critical Thinking, Problem-Solving, Creativity
AGE GROUP: Secondary

Another highly interactive and creative innovation, the ‘Meteorological Stars’ students design and create meteorological equipment to collect and analyse environmental and climate-related data, record their findings and report these back to the class.

In this way, they develop critical-thinking and problem-solving skills in a highly interactive and engaging way, as well as learn more about their immediate environment and the impact of human activity on day-to-day weather.

Watch – literacy games from Uganda

Schools2030 is a ten-year participatory learning improvement programme based in 1,000 government schools across ten countries. Schools2030 supports teachers and students to design and implement education micro-innovations. These low-cost and scaleable innovations will inform and transform education systems to improve holistic learning outcomes for the most marginalised learners worldwide. Join the movement on TwitterFacebook, and LinkedIn.