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Kampala schools open, ignore Education Ministry calendar

FILE PHOTO: A student does her exams. Schools have started preparing for the next round, ahead of the official start date for first term.

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Some schools in Kampala have today disregarded the Ministry of Education (MOE) school calendar and opened for the beginning of the first school term of 2020.

According to the MOE school calendar, schools are supposed to officially open for the first term on February 3, 2020.

However some schools in Kampala have already opened for the first term. As early as 7:30 am today morning, learners from some schools in Nakawa division like Dream Africa School Kamwokya and Kitante Hill School were seen walking to school dressed smartly in their school uniforms.

When URN visited the schools, lessons were ongoing in some of them for candidate classes. At other schools like Hormisdallen, cleaning was taking place ahead of the reporting date of primary seven learners later this week on January 26,2020.

A male employee at Hormisdallen School in Kamwokya who did not want his identity revealed says that they are opening for primary six and seven learners.

“The rest of the school is opening next month on 3rd, but P6 and 7 pupils are reporting early so that they can start class work early and finish the syllabus by second term so that they start revising for exams early,” he said.

At Dream Africa School in Kamwokya, the gatekeeper stopped our reporter from accessing the school premises. He however revealed that the school had reopened for first term for primary seven students only.

“We cannot tell you anything. If you need any more information go and talk to our Public Relations officer who sits at GEMS. We do not have answers for you here,” he said.

Despite the presence of students on the school compound dressed in school uniform, Crescent Rutagonya the Deputy Head teacher at Kitante hill school, said that the school is opening on the government approved date. When asked to explain further why students were in the school compound, he declined to comment.

“We are a government department, so we have to adhere to government policies and programs,” said Rutagonya.

Dr Tony Mukasa Lusambu, the commissioner of basic education at the ministry of education says that is it illegal for schools to open at this time. He says district education officers need to apprehend all culprits. He says all the open schools are illegally operating and have no business teaching learners.

According to Dr. Lusambu, the only schools that are allowed to stagger the school calendar are boarding schools in Kampala, Wakiso and Mukono who are given a one week allowance by the ministry. The schools are allowed to open and close one week early for the school term and holidays to reduce on inconveniences like traffic jam.

It is the responsibility of the Directorate of Education Standards to make sure that all schools adhere to the school calendar. However due to limited human resource, Dr. Kedrace Turyagenda, the director of Education Standards says that they find it hard to keep up.

“Primary education was decentralized and this means that district inspectors of schools are supposed to make sure that schools adhere to the calendar but at times this is impossible because of the presence of few school inspectors. To have effective inspection, we need help from all stake holders to report suspicious activities,” Dr. Turyagenda said.

According to the education ministry, schools opening before the allocated time on the annual calendar tantamounts to running holiday classes, which is illegal and can lead to a school being closed or even losing its operational license.

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