Reclaiming the space for storytelling in Ugandan primary schools

  • Medadi Erisa Ssentanda Makerere University & Stellenbosch University
  • Samuel Andema Aga Khan University
Keywords: Storytelling, literacy, mother tongue education, teacher attitudes and practices, Uganda


The purpose of this article is to highlight teachers’ beliefs and practices towards storytelling in the mother tongue in Ugandan rural classrooms and the effect this could have on efforts to promote reading, such as the mother-tongue (MT) education programme in Uganda and the African Storybook Project (ASb). The article demonstrates that although there are initiatives to promote storytelling in the mother tongue in Ugandan primary schools to enhance reading and literacy acquisition, teachers are not prepared for the task and, therefore, disregard storytelling in the mother tongue. This disregard of storytelling in the mother tongue stems from the fact that teachers view storytelling as a waste of time, time that can rather be spent on ’real’ lesson content. Furthermore, they feel that storytelling adds unnecessary pressure to their already demanding workload. Moreover, learners are not assessed for storytelling at the end of their primary education. In addition, teachers are not trained on how to integrate storytelling in their teaching practices. The article presents classroom-based research which highlights teachers’ practices towards storytelling. The article ends with a request for ethnographic fieldwork to educate teachers on the social-cultural values of storytelling beyond learner assessments (among other benefits) and to facilitate teachers on how to integrate stories in the learning process.


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Author Biographies

Medadi Erisa Ssentanda, Makerere University & Stellenbosch University
Medadi E Ssentanda (PhD) is a Lecturer at Makerere University, Department of African Languages (Uganda) and a Research Associate at Stellenbosch University (South Africa). His research interests are language policy in the school context, mother tongue education, classroom interactions and linguistic landscape.
Samuel Andema, Aga Khan University
Samuel Andema (PhD) is an Assistant Professor of language and literacy education at Aga Khan University (AKU), Institute for Educational Development, East Africa (IED, EA), based in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. His research interests focus on digital literacy, local cultural and linguistic resources and classroom practices.