Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | The Speaker of Parliament Rebecca Kadaga has directed the Minister of Education and Sports to immediately provide a clear plan of re-opening schools amid the Covid-19 pandemic.
The directive followed a statement by the Minister of State for Higher Education John Chrysostom Muyingo about the planned phased reopening of schools starting with students in candidate classes as well as finalists in tertiary institutions and universities on October 15 as announced by President Yoweri Museveni in his last address to the country on Sunday.
Muyingo said that government planned to provide every learner with at least two face masks as they report back to schools. He also noted that the Ministry was scaling up digital learning to ensure that all students across the country are covered and that the plans by the Ministry equally capture the concerns of the special interest groups.
However, Soroti County MP Kenneth Esiangu questioned why the government was in the rush to open schools at a time when the country is registering high numbers of COVID-19 cases yet the schools had been closed before a single case was registered.
“When Covid-19 cases were few, the government closed schools. Now that they have increased, the government has decided to reopen schools. We are remaining with approximately two months to end the year, why would the government choose to reopen schools?” he asked.
As of September 22, 2020, Uganda has registered 6,879 positive COVID-19 cases. Out of these, 69 have died.
But Sarah Opendi, the State Minister of Mineral Development appealed to legislators to support the government’s planned re-opening of schools in a phased manner saying that there was no guarantee that they will have a vaccine for COVID-19 by early next year. According to Opendi, COVID-19 should not permanently stop operations of the country.
The Speaker of Parliament Rebecca Kadaga tasked the Minister to explain why government reached a decision to reopen schools at the end of the year and what the Ministry of Education plans to do to schools that were used as quarantine centres. She also wondered why the Ministry was proceeding without a proper plan after failing to deliver on its planned e-learning system.
Kadaga then directed that the Minister of Education meets the Education Committee to synchronize the gaps in the government’s planned re-opening of schools.