Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | The Ministry of Education and Sports has rejected a move by several schools to break off for non-candidate classes during PLE.
Several schools mainly in urban centres, had sent out circulars asking parents with learners in the boarding section to pick non-candidates in order to provide the candidates with enough space and environment during the exams.
The schools had indicated that the half term would run from November 4-13. For some schools, this was a decision taken at the beginning of the term while others informed parents during the visitation days.
However, in a circular issued to all head teachers, the acting Permanent Secretary Ismael Mulindwa, said that the move by the schools is against the recently issued standard operating procedures.
“…this is inappropriate and demonstrates a lack of appreciation of the current public health emergence arising from the outbreak of Ebola disease and the need for effective implementation of the necessary infection prevention and control measures,” the circular reads in part.
Mulindwa rather asked the head teachers to reconsider the decision and instead make plans to occupy the students in the boarding section for the two days of the exam. He further requested Resident District Commissioners and town clerks, and district education officers to ensure that schools don’t have the planned break.
Filbert Baguma, the UNATU Secretary General says the proposed half term is another opportunity for private schools to cheat parents and learners. Baguma adds that it has become common practice for schools to ignore guidelines and amend the school calendar as they wish.
He says that the two days of PLE cannot justify a week-long break.
Baguma says that day students can only be permitted to stay at home during exam days, however, sending boarding students back home is improper.
However, Hasadu Kirabira, the chairman of the National Private Educational Institutions Association (NPEIA), says even if the government has intervened, there is no justification for why schools choose to take a half-term break.
“Most of the decisions taken don’t take into account the stakeholders. You can’t sit in an office and make a decision without first understanding the underlying issues,” Kirabira, who is a school operator, said adding that there are numerous variables driving schools to ask parents to pick their children at such times.
He says that some schools lack the facilities to support teaching and learning during the exam period, while others only take advantage of this time to ease the financial strain they are facing.
Kirabira blames the lack of enough infrastructure or classes to accommodate non-candidates during the examination on the education ministry system which accepted a UNEB center to be to register in schools without considering their capacity to carry out learning during the examination period.
Following the Ministry’s directive, schools like Martyr’s Way Primary School, Namugongo and Hillside Primary School Naalya backtracked on their decision.
“Dear parents, kindly note that all children in the boarding section will not go for the half term during the PLE days as guided by the ministry of education,” a message from hillside addressed to all parents reads.
However, not all schools will heed the directive given the fact that there is a trail indicating that several schools ignore guidelines from the education ministry. For instance, last weekend very many schools held visitation days contrary to a circular which had been issued days earlier banning the same.