Learner support systems in enhancing the delivery of distance learning programmes for in-service teacher education in Uganda: the case of Kyambogo University
The focus of this research study was on learner support systems in enhancing the delivery of distance learning programmes for in-service teacher education in Uganda: the case of Kyambogo University. The study recognizes the development of distance learning in Uganda in general and the use of distance learning in improving the training of teachers in particular. The study stresses the need for better trained teachers whose roles are changed from being expositors to that of facilitators of learning activities. Such teachers must be provided with an educational environment which is conducive to learning, replete with resources of various kinds, print-based, audio visual, ICT and mechanical devices where possible to support such learners. This study was carried out in nine Primary Teachers' Colleges co-coordinating centres. These are: Kibuli, Busuubizi, Nkokonjeru, CTK Gulu, Lodonga, Kabwangasi, Bukedea, lbanda and Kiyoora. The research design used was cross-sectional survey. This design helped the researcher to gather information from different categories of samples at the same time. The primary data was collected by use of questionnaires, interview and observation tools. The secondary data was obtained from reference books, magazines, journals, periodicals and internet materials. A total of 420 respondents were used for the study. The data collected were analysed using both qualitative and quantitative methods in an inter-complementary manner. Qualitative analysis was used to analyse views of the respondents, while quantitative data were entered into the computer and analysis was done using computer statistical package for social sciences (SPSS). The results of the study revealed a number of challenges associated with learner support system in enhancing the delivery of distance learning programmes at Kyambogo University. The key challenges the study identified were, lack of provision of a variety of learner support services, poor facilitation skills by lecturers, lack of library uses by the distance learners, poor co-ordination of the distance learning activities between Kyambogo University and the PTC co-coordinating centres, delay in release of results and lack of Government involvement in supporting distance education programmes in Uganda. In view of these challenges, key recommendations were made, notable are that, Kyambogo University should review its learner support services to improve programme delivery systems, study materials be provided in time for the distance learners to access, staff training in distance education should be enhanced and effective guidance and counseling services be provided to improve support services. Prompt release of results to the distance learners should be done timely to encourage them to work harder in their studies. Above all, practical work and library facilities should be made available for the learners and facilitators to access and utilize in order to improve teaching and learning at a distance.