School re-opening plans in Uganda uncertain as COVID-19 rages on

School re-opening plans in Uganda uncertain as COVID-19 rages on
Schools still uncertain when they will resume, or when the new academic year starts

Kampala, Uganda | URN | The Ministry of Education is still uncertain when schools will reopen as the number of COVID-19 cases in Uganda rages on, pushing the healthcare system to the brink of collapse.

Last month, President Yoweri Museveni announced fresh restrictions as part of measures to control the COVID-19 transmissions in the country in face of the second wave of the pandemic. Among the restrictions, the President directed the closure of all educational institutions across the country for 42 days.

Addressing journalists at the release of Primary Leaving Examination (PLE) results on Friday 16, July 2021, the Education and Sports minister Janet Museveni said that it is premature to reveal when school will reopen.

She said the ministry is waiting for a decision from cabinet. “I do not want to say there is a time in future we know when we will open. Whether it will be a long process of opening some and not others, is yet to be decided,” Janet Museveni said.

After the closure of educational institutions was announced, the education ministry made tentative adjustments to the school calendar. At that time, schools were expected to reopen on July 19 to enable learners to complete their respective syllabus before being promoted to the next classes.

A new schools year was also set to start in August.

This arrangement was cut short when the President declared a fresh 42-days lockdown on June 18. Sources at the Ministry of Education note that they have been discussing possible situations of reopening schools but they are yet to conclude.

“The ministry would like all learners to cover something on their current class syllabus before they are promoted but the extended lockdown distorted the times. For example, they are class like P1 to P3 who have never returned to school since march last and authorities are planning to see how they can be fitted in,” a source noted.

Currently, there are concerns from parents, school owners, educationists, and learners alike that the more the ministry delays in making decisions and developing plans for reopening, the more the sector will be affected.

Read Also: Over 800 COVID-19 positive cases reported in schools across Uganda

The system is getting clogged with candidates being passed on to the next level of education yet those in the next classes have not been promoted.

For instance, with PLE results released, the 2020 candidates have been promoted to S.1 but those currently in the class have only spent a few weeks in school with most of them not even covering half of the syllabus.

As a tentative solution, Janet Museveni noted that parents should embrace home-schooling as the ministry looks at the possible plan.

She further adds that if home schooling is embraced, the ministry will be sending materials to all learners.