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Schools re-opening

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SCHOOLS RE-OPENING: The tough decisions to be made

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | On Aug. 26, news reports emerged that GEMS Cambridge International School in Kampala was set to close by December.

The Uganda Radio Network, a syndicated news provider, called it “yet another non-medical causality of the COVID-19 lockdown”.

Reports quoting Riz Ahmed, the Chief Executive Officer of GEMS Africa, said the elite school which boasts of providing quality education and raising opportunities for hundreds of students was closing because the pandemic had resulted in numerous “uncertainties’.

“The decision to close the school that was established in Uganda in 2013 was made after exhausting all options,” the CEO reportedly said in a statement.

It appears the decision by GEMS Cambridge International School kicked the Ministry of Education out of its slumber which has put the future of 15 million learners and 500,000 teachers at stake.

In an earlier interview with The Independent, Grace Ngororano, a senior six student of Kigezi High School in southwestern Uganda told The Independent on June 17 that she has been feeling terrible ever since schools closed.

“I feel very bad. I thought this was my final year of high school; unfortunately, we might stay home for the entire year.”

But, even if she sounded dejected, Ngororano, 18, said staying alive is better. “You would rather stay home even for two years to keep safe and then return to school,” she said.

She said returning to school presents lots of risks for the students. She lives in the border district of Kisoro, and for her, returning to schools means mixing with strangers on public transport and with other students who come from far away Kampala, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and even Nigeria.

Filbert Baguma who is the General Secretary of the Uganda National Teachers Union (UNATU), a 140,000 strong union, said UNATU’s position is that before schools reopen the wellbeing of teachers, the learners and support staff must be guaranteed.

“You cannot open schools when you don’t know whether these schools can afford temperature guns, water access points and whether social distancing would be implemented.”

“Remember the government promised to give out face masks but up to now they are nowhere to be seen. Close to 40 districts are still under lockdown. How will the schools in those districts operate?”

But Nicholas Ssewajje, who teaches in a private school, said the 17,000 members of the Uganda National Association of Private Schools and Institutions want schools to reopen.

“None of us is sure of when COVID-19 will go away,” he said.

None of these positions appears to have changed.

Push to re-open

Yet for months, many managers and owners of private schools in Uganda had been pushing the government to reopen or else many of them would wind up business before the lockdown was eventually lifted; possibly next year.

Buildings of some schools around Kampala have already been repurposed for other businesses. In July, the proprietors of Najjeera Progressive School with 500 students along the Kiwatule-Najjeera road in Kira Municipality, Wakiso District, announced they had decided to close it after 32 years of existence.

“After comprehensive analysis of the business viability, we are certain the school cannot survive the shutdown measures alongside other pre-existing pressures,” said Andrew Timothy Nsamba, the school director who inherited the management from his mother Kezia Matovu.

It was an emotional moment.

“Although life might continue long after the closure, it will not be the same for many of us,” said a teacher at the school.

At the time, there were reports that many private schools across the country were stressed. Many were operating on unsustainable financial arrangements including loans. The Uganda National Association of Private Schools and Institutions had written to the government in search of a stimulus package to keep afloat.

In June, President Yoweri Museveni had ordered the Education and Gender ministries to list education institutions from primary to tertiary institutions that have been affected by the lockdown and in July he advised the Uganda Development Bank (UDB) to take on the loans of some of the private schools struggling due to the lockdown. He also offered Shs2 billion towards the private Sacco of about 350,000 teachers in private schools. But he ruled out paying off their salaries.

Museveni said a hard decision would have to be made before September. He said the choice was whether to reopen the schools for candidate classes and finalists, declare a dead year altogether, or if a vaccine is got by then, vaccinate all students and reopen all schools. But three months later, no decision had been made.

31 comments

  1. Iam worried of reporting back to school this because of this pandemic.
    I think it is better we stay home till next year in order to be safe.

    • You are right, we better stay home than risking our life. Even me am in s.6 here in Tororo but we are still in total lockdown because we are just here in the border point of Uganda and Kenya and there is a lot of cases in Kenya here we are worried about reopening of schools

    • masks can helps alot however the situation is worth.

    • Will you stay home for the next five years in case the pandemic exists

  2. The government should at least establish online studies for finalists as its the best strategy for finalists

  3. I request president Museveni to reopen schools coz we private teachers have suffered alot

  4. At least schools should be re open Ed next year coz corona is still existing

  5. This is all bullshit.. So if u reopen for only candidates then in 2021 were will does who did not study to go to the next class study from that means schools should put up more structures for the in comers cause they would manage the big numbers in one class an social distancing is mandatory … And they will be missing classes like p7.. S4 and s6 respectively…

  6. Some private teachers are just after money not knowing that they are risking their life and life of their students but please be patient this thing will come to an end let us keeps on praying to the Lord our God, who knew that Ebola will come to an end so even our life will also come to an end one day so teachers be patient and start some business which con help you. Good night all

    • Uhh so they take tym to analyse opening schools but election is going on as normal I know this is all politics.teachers are suffering Plz open schools

    • We aren’t sure when the virus will stop u mean if it stays for two years who will wait for school meaning it will be a dropout for learners pliz let them make a win win solution

    • Hmmm please let’s be mindful of what we share otherwise it maybe hurting others even if starting up a business needs money so where do you expect someone to get that money you’re talking of if not work. But in reality its still a risky idea to reopen schools at the moment. Besides how and will the circular be corrected if distorted now since the reopening will kick of now and ends in may next year .it’s not normal at all

  7. I think schools should be opened to help learners many girls are getting pregnant everyday

  8. Let school start next year. Parents have no money. Private schools can not afford. Pze trs let’s find some thing to do for mean time
    Noble men and women life is more important. Unfortunately money ment for Sacco s has been stolen. Now does any one of us REM the words Samson Kiseka (RIP) about teacher? Let us suffer now and enjoy in Haven.

    • Is this a fool? Who is sure of when the virus will stop?
      How many people died yesterday of Malaria, AIDS? We can live with corona like any other diseases.

  9. I think it will b more better when schools are 2 b reopen next year coz the pandemic is still existing. so is better 2 prevent our lives than doing other things that are so risk 2 our lives.

  10. Me I think the gov’t is too late to reopen skuls this year so let’s bare with the present situation

  11. Coronavirus will not stop today or tomorrow,we only need to learn how to stay wiz it like other diseases, concerning with the school fees,or school requirements,let the government help for the requirements and parents pay school fees,we only need to go back to school, students are getting married,some are pregnancy, please mutusaasire

  12. China opened, Germany and other countries opened up.
    Ours it’s politicised.

    • CoVid in Uganda and Kenya is very unique kills students if your student and b involved in buzness your safe.
      That its why we resist to reopen schools and allow people to be crowded in shopping markets with their children, who are student candidates
      Know I realise that corona is now a business, western idea will destroy Uganda bcz we are still dependant while we have a lot of experts who can advise gvt to understand the situation so as to rescue Ugandan.
      Plz resume all activities don’t worry about corona,
      Currently all Ugandan has acquired natural immunity ageinst. CoRon Virus.

  13. Rufai Jacquelyn Kisakye

    It makes no sense to leave schools closed en open market places en transportation. Imagine there’s nothing like social distancing in town. 50% of people there don’t even use their face masks. Actually you might find 20% of the people crowding town are students who are apparently idle and looking for something to do. Now wat difference does leaving schools locked make. It’s just endangering the whole education system. Schools r organized in such a way that they can easily enforce rules and regulations to keep the virus from spreading. All they need is to test every student before they get into school and not allow any one else in. Well at least they should open universities and other higher institutions since we are adults who can take care of ourselves. Staying at home isn’t helping at all. We still go out to towns, markets and workplaces and interact with hundreds of people every single day. I don’t see how continuing with our studies is going to make us any more exposed than we already are

  14. If students are getting married, some pregnant means that is their choice,,i meaning, a child under 15 year old or 18 above, means their understand the every situations going around, which means even if schools were opened still they can be pregnanted, don’t risk your life because of reopening school, be patient 🙏
    God will do something believe with faith,

  15. I would like to inform you people that this is not a lent period that when we make 40 days,we stop fasting. No one knew that their will be a pandemic and so no one knows the time COVID 19will go.If at all people learnt to live with AIDS,can’t we learn to live with COVID19?.We know how the disease attacks and so let’s use the SOPs and schools be reopened.

  16. If the country is able to hold an election during this pandemic, something that involves the participation of 90℅ citizens worldwide then I don’t understand why they wouldn’t allow students to go to school… We’re not seeing the future of this nation.. Thugging is becoming a normal thing, drugs is becoming a daily food for the youths…
    This is a matter that needs a full attention from All sides…this is becoming tough everyday for us students👦📖🎒.. I thought this would be my last year in high school…

  17. The government should plan and reopen schools because no one knows when the virus will stop more so we have seen elections going on as usual ,markets etc

    • Unfortunately it in did sad that Ugandan government does not value the life and the integrity of it so called leaders of tomorrow , if you can actually hold an election to be paresis let take a look at the n r m primaries what a mess then tell me why will you close place of worship and school, Mr President this goes to you and your so call cabinet if you guys are actually learnt as you clam you would have come up with a better plan as to ascertain a proper s o p for churches and school how will you trade the future of your grand kids and great grand kids all in the name of covid stop fulling Ugandans cause the majority here are not elite and do not have a say but trust me god is a life he will fight Ugandan battle like he did to David and Goliath do the right thing to save Ugandan future generation thanks and godbless

  18. Nelson Benjamin tolit

    To me I think schools have to be reopened because we are experiencing early child pregnancy, what if it’s be after five years until coronavirus is gone, shall we still have these young children at home, let’s think twice otherwise we shall be no where partaining education.

  19. Let schools remain closed because schooling doesn’t end but life can

  20. Better alive than dead. You cannot enjoy money when you are dead. Stay closed and pray and pray.

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