President Yoweri Museveni has rejected plans to reopen schools next month.
According to Daily Monitor newspaper, during a meeting at State House Entebbe on Tuesday, the President refused proposal by the National Covid-19 Taskforce to have schools reopened in October.
Dr Dennis K. Mugimba, the Ministry of Education spokesperson, said their team had proposed that schools reopen next month, but Museveni said the dates are too near given the looming threat of the third wave of Covid-19.
“Given the emerging realities of [low] vaccination rate of teachers, non-teaching staff and students above 18 years, the President asked us to rethink another date and report back next week,” Dr Mugimba told the local daily.
Instead, the President tasked members of the National Covid-19 Taskforce to examine the impact of limited vaccination of teachers, support staff and elderly parents alongside risk of anticipated third wave of the pandemic on learners returning to class.
“His argument was that the last time government reopened schools, learners took back the infections to their parents and a number of them lost their lives,” Dr Mugimba added.
Yesterday, the Ministry of Education revealed that the authentic dates for general reopening of schools shall be communicated in due time after the cabinet has taken a decision.
“International schools should only re-open for candidate classes to sit their final exams just as was done for candidates that sat @UNEB_UG exams. The authentic dates for a general re-opening of schools shall be communicated in due time after Cabinet has taken a decision,’ the Education Ministry said on Tuesday through its official twitter handle.
However, the ministry did not state when the cabinet would convene to discuss and decide on the reopening dates.
A few days ago, the Ministry dismissed reports that it had agreed to reopen schools starting the month of September.
The Ministry’s Director Education Standards, Dr. Kedrace Turyagyenda said most Ugandans are anxious about the reopening of schools, but government has not set dates for pupils and students to return to their respective education institutions as alleged by some media reports.
“The Ministry of Education has not decided that schools will reopen in two weeks. I haven’t read the paper where that information is, and I don’t know where they got it from,” Dr Turyagyenda said while appearing on NBS TV last Tuesday.
“We are all responsible for the children under us. As we plan and hope to reopen, please prepare for these children to have what will make them comfortable to learn.The more we monitor and keep our schools safe, the easier it will be to keep our country safe,”she added.
Dr Turyagyenda’s remarks followed some media reports that the ministry had agreed to reopen schools in the first two weeks of September, giving priority to classes P.1, P.2, P.3, S.1 and S.2.
The reports claimed that decision was reached on Monday 30th August during a meeting between Education Ministry and stakeholders in the education sector. The virtual consultative meeting was held to discuss about the Government proposals for reopening of education institutions for completion of academic year 2020 and progression of learners to the next level amid Covid-19 pandemic.
“It was agreed that when schools reopen in September , P.1 to P.3 pupils and S.1 to S.2 students will undergo 14 weeks of accelerated essential curriculum coverage for progression to the next class,” one of the local daily said.
“Government also proposed to admit all learners above six years of age to P.1 irrespective of whether they have been through nursery schools or not.However, its not clear when the incoming S.1 and S.5 students whose exams were released last month , will start. For universities and other tertiary institutions, government will prioritize reopening for finalists.”
The Minister of Education and Sports Janet Kataha Museveni in August appealed to teachers and learners aged 18 years and above to go for Covid-19 vaccination ahead of planned school reopening.
In her statement, Mrs Museveni said following President Yoweri Museveni’s partial easing of the lockdown on some sectors on 31 July, 2021, institutions of learning were kept closed for some time until certain conditions are attended to. These conditions included getting all teaching staff and learners aged 12 and 18 in the institutions vaccinated.
“Today, we appeal to the public to join us in efforts of mobilizing our teachers and learners aged 18 years and above in all the Education Institutions of Learning – both public and private, to go for their Covid-19 vaccination jab. The task of mobilizing our teachers and learners to get vaccinated cannot be left to the Ministry responsible for Education alone,” Mrs Museveni who is also the First Lady said.
“The Ministry of Health does publish information about all district and health facilities these vaccines have been supplied to. The Ministry of Health shall inform the public once Covid-19 vaccines that are approved for people 12-16 years of age have become available. All vaccines issued by government are not paid for by the recipients.”
She also urged all stakeholders in the local governments such as District Chairpersons and Councilors, RDCs and RCCs, CAOs, DEOs among others to go out and sound the trumpet of mobilizing teachers to be vaccinated.
“Please use your formal and informal structures to get your respective teaching staff and the critical non-academic staff to go get their Covid-19 jab.”
In July 2021, while delivering his state of nation address on Covid-19, President Museveni said schools will not reopen until a sizeable number of learners, teachers, and non-teaching staff have received at least one jab.
He, however, added that the Education ministry and their health counterparts should work out a plan that will see the reopening for medical students since they are categorized as health workers thus being essential.
The government will have to vaccinate at least 2.24 million people to have schools reopened. But, the achievement of this objective will depend entirely on the availability and supply of vaccines.
Do you have a story in your community or an opinion to share with us: Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org