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Proposal to cancel 2020 academic year draws mixed reactions

All learning institutions were closed mid-March to curb the spread of coronavirus.

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Proposals to cancel the 2020 academic year for learners at all levels of education have been received with mixed reactions among parents. Schools and other educational institutions were closed on March 20, as the government announced measures to control the spread of coronavirus disease.

Although the government had initially announced to open up for candidate classes, the plan was cancelled early this month as a result of an increase in the number of COVID-19 cases. There are more than 700 cases in Uganda so far with more numbers coming from the communities lately.

It’s on the basis of this that members of the National Economy committee of Parliament asked the government to declare 2020 a dead year for education. They argued that the online learning options that had been put in place by the government seemed not to work given the technology divide in Uganda.

During his Heroes day address on June 9, President Yoweri Museveni said that  he had received pleas from several parents urging him to keep schools and other institutions of learning closed for the rest of the year.

This position has been supported by Rev George William Kyeyune, the Namirembe Diocesan Vicar who says that the government should declare 2020 a dead year and go back to the drawing board to develop a comprehensive sustainable plan.

“Currently, we seem to be in a panic mode with everybody fronting his idea. And surprisingly some of these ideas have been tried out without analyzing whether they can work. We need a detailed plan and developing one cannot take a few weeks,” says Rev Kyeyune.

Diana Mbabazi, a resident of Nansana shares that it will be difficult for children to observe social distancing and all the other measures that have been put in place to stop the spread of coronavirus disease.

Barbra Kugonza, another parent shares that after wasting a lot of time on unpractical alternatives, the government needs to stop the entire process and plan forward. Kugonza adds that even the children are currently not fit for learning in a school environment and asserts that focus should be on continuous learning on digital platforms only for keeping learners engaged.

However, Scovia Tushemeirerwe, resident of Bukoto also says that stopping the academic year is not justifiable given the fact that nobody knows when the COVID-19 pandemic will end. According to her, it is high time the system adopts means of living with the pandemic.

“What if COVID-19 continues up to the next year? Does that also mean that there will be no learning? Education is an important aspect. We need more human resources and how do we get them, it is through the education system. Maybe we can change the way things function but not calling it off.” Tushemeirerwe says.

Prossy Awino, a resident of Kamwokya says that calling off the academic year will have other impacts like increased school dropouts especially among the girl child. She advises that the government should put up strict operational standard procedures so that school reopens.

Annet Kirabo, a resident of Kyambogo shares that although she would want her children to return to school, she is currently incapacitated financially after three months with no substantive income. To her, reopening of school could not benefit all, as the school will also need money to cater for administration and logistics.

The Ministry of Education has come up with a temporary intervention by instituting learning through self-study materials and televised lessons. However, the response plan has been criticized with some education experts saying it fell short because the learners were not prepared for the self-study learning approach and lack technical support to facilitate the self-learning process.

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23 comments

  1. Brian Munguleni

    That money for Lira district needs to be given coz it caters for our safety all as Ugandans.

  2. So we entered the dreaded stage 3 this week according to the reports from the Ministry of Health, and instead of taking additional measures to keep Ugandan citizens safe, we are discussing how to introduce the ‘uncontrollables’ (students) into an already complex situation. Why are we putting our health system at such risk? Isn’t the Ugandan health system already facing an unprecedented ‘once in a lifetime’ crisis? And why don’t we let the experts lead the way in this crisis so that we have a single entity to blame for any failure.
    We are still wrestling with the issues of the truck drivers and the boarder districts. On top of that the COVID-19 taskforce has to deal with the rightful re-opening of the economy so that a Ugandan can be given a chance to survive in these tough times; then there is the issue of dealing with the complacency of the Ugandan public that is dropping its guard while the threat still exists. We have to ask ourselves whether it would be wise to unleash the a section of the population that is even more difficult to control.
    The Ministry of Health is being put under unnecessary pressure to have to deal with a new dimension of threat without having brought existing threats under control.
    The Ministry of health has to set new health standards for schools, costing has to take place, decisions have to be taken to distribute the burden of costs, schools have to implement new health standards, staff training has to take place, and proper inspection has to be conducted. All this takes time and money, and not all institutions can implement these measures on the fly. SLOW DOWN, and remove the time pressure from the Ministry of health as well as the Ministry of Education and Sports so that they can get it right the first time. ‘Better safe than sorry’, is the saying that we learned from our colonizers

    Trying to establish an effective distance learning program during such a crisis is like trying to modify a troubled aircraft in mid air. An effective distance learning program requires proper planning especially for a country like Uganda that lacks technology and electricity in rural areas. COVID-19 has now shown us that it is a good idea for the Ministry of Education and Sports to implement a good distance learning program to supplement the ‘in-class’ education method that we currently depend on. Such a supplementary program can be tried our in Kampala district first before developing ways in which it can be expanded to the rest of the country. This trial period will allow for impovements and tweaks before it goes countrywide. This requires a harmonious marriage between the country’s education and technology sectors to simplify the program for rural areas without losing quality. It might be that the introduction of policies that would encourage all households in Ugandan to acquire smart phones would be better than providing all households with radios and TVs. If we rush into anything we should be assured of wastage of vital financial resources through allocation of resources to doomed programs and corruption. Instead of buying radios for all households so that they can be misused by parents who might prefer to listen to their favorite radio program instead of allowing their children to benefit from it, let this money be used to support rural schools so that they can comply with the new health standards that are soon to be rolled out.

  3. about the declaration of 2020 as a dead academic year#This may be taken poorly to very many parents and may lead to more school dropouts especially among the girl child who reside in villages da fact that some parents have started sending them to marriage already and besides what if the pandemic z not to end `We need to just learn on how to live with it just like how we lived wz any other disease” n let everything go back to normal after all it is only God who knows us more than even da government.

  4. Your are right because nobody signed a contract with the disease on when will it end learning to leave with it is the best solution

  5. Instead give people food & health care! Life is more important. Remember, each one of us will be required to account One day!!

    • Justine Bizimana

      As a parent and lecturer, I think declaring dead the academic year 2020 is still for our own safety as the government monitors and plans more possibilities to open schools next year. It hurts of course since most of us survive of school income but it will hurt us more if our loved young ones die in the course of learning. As far as I’m concerned, life should come first, education follows. We shall struggle to teach social distancing and the risk of this pandemic to our students once at school. I’m really sceptical about the measures to be implemented in schools. From Ndejje Wakiso/ Kampala

      • Justine Bizimana

        Both reopening schools progressively and declaring dead the academic year 2020 will certainly have a strong negative impact on our educational system, but caution is never cowardice.

  6. Hehehe first the numerous cases are filled with fake results to make us panic, now you are planning to cancel the year, were do they (leaders) think we teachers with the brokenness survive from, we’re badly off you can’t cancel things please be humans, I know those who are seconding have money, they’re being paid monthly salaries so they won’t feel any hardship like us

  7. Mr president if you knew how I feel on our efforts that got wasted the very time you started bringing up ideas of schools to open for finalists and then adds up 21 days and again add a month and finally fools confuse you to call for a dead year so I don’t understand where we shall end if this pandemic doesn’t end by 2021 where this country will be heading to please lets look at all the possibilities and think of how everything should run or go on with and that is what I call adopting to the situation so please fellow Ugandans we must sacrifice alot up to life to succeed one day otherwise this pandemic is not compared to some simple diseases like malaria and the rest while they kill every now and then

  8. Never build your emotional life on the weaknesses of others. The primary role of a government is to protect her citizen.

  9. The president should think much what if the disease continues for many years what will happen
    As they planing should include private teachers and other support staff

  10. Maybe the government should consider opening up school in September and restart a acedemic year as in the European countries

  11. As a University student, Life is more than important because I believe after we have won the COVID-19 we can still go back and continue with our studies BUT AFTER COVID- 19 has won us , no any Ugandan citizen can again think about education after losing life.
    Why be jealous of the lives of young citizens yet the tomorrow’s UGANDA .
    LIFE IS IMPORTANT

  12. Otim John Bosco

    Everything has both good and bad effects. It is a good idea to name this year ‘dead academic year’ because it will reduce in the numbers of infection, but I see, that not all the parents can access media like televisions. Radios are there, but I don’t think children would understand well because there are some explanation which need demonstration and drawings. Therefore, through radio, it will be limited to only first learning children. However, through televisions every few would access them in their homes and it is limited to only people who have enough money. Apoor ‘village-parents’ will be able to get them freely. Even if the government are to provide televisions to all villages still it will crest over crowding. Dear let us accept it just for safety but I know it will lead to failing of exams and all in all it will cause lots of bad news from children staying at home

  13. Countries like the USA which have been affected so much by the virus, where thousands have died are reopening schools in August 2020 after the summer, because they realize this Pandemic is not gonna end now , so they find ways to cope with it even in schools. Those responsible and influencing this whole thing in Uganda have zero interest in reopening the schools. It’s affecting the Education Sector so badly, not to mention the private teachers who have no source of income now. How do you think they’re surviving. Those who are saying schools should not be opened are people with a lot of money, People who can afford homeschooling that others can’t afford..

  14. I think they shud open for only candidate classes for this tym n put all of them in boarding with proper social distancing.and let the parents pay at least half fees becoz some are financially unstable and most r single mothers

  15. I don’t know what the government and others corrupts official wants, they are benefiting from donation for covid 19 , communities are suffering coz of hunger and ignorance, and you still wanted to call this dead year, and you yet you are giving us fake results of covid 19.my advice to president, at least you open for school and churches so that God help us .

  16. UGANDA SHOULD LEARN HOW TO ADAPT BY THE PANDEMIC.
    Uganda should learn how to adapt by Covid_19…Besides, schools should be re-opened because if this unpredictable pandemic continues for more and more years, will tht mean schools shall be held off. And by the way, stopping of schools in particular will impact the economy Uganda since teachers that would be paying taxes will be stopped and actually the high crime rate will also increase, despite of the fact that there is curfew. Coz the more unemployed people the more risks to law breaking. School drop outs should also be considered because an idle mind is the Devils workshop. If you people say you need God to take control and you don’t trust Him then go do you expect Him to help you…..wake up Uganda and learn how to leave with this virus…For God and My Country.

  17. Kizito Najib Mayanja

    The government has been able to carry out a population census in the past years. The resources for such an operation can be converted to test for the virus. By shutting down transport in the country for a limited amount of time while everyone gets tested, the virus can be tracked and the government can get a handle on it and take the necessary precautions to put an end to its spread. Instead of us simply hoping for the virus to end and simply learning how to live with it. It can be tracked and once and for all its progress put to a stop.

  18. The public should get right that a virus has no cure,,,so I don’t see the reason why some parents and none parents are advocating for a dead year yet there’s no cure for covid 19.
    It’s high time we get back to reality and open schools because the government has left teachers broke for these for months, students morale decreased ,,,,,
    This pandemic has given us all lessons to learn, so I don’t think students will be stupid enough not to put social distancing into their minds.

  19. Tukwasibwe denis

    Its a humiliating situation to private teachers..government denying facts.where are you private teachers?can we organise massive demonstrations countrywide so that government can act?politicians are gathering everyone including learners,no social distancing but you hear nonsense that learners need to Carry out social distancing?much us the virus is real,starvation amongst teachers is more real.keep your schools closed as you cater for the vulnerable teachers.its now on record that ugandan teachers are hanging themselves due to starvation.someone cannot imagine some teachers earn just 100k monthly without alternative,having sold property to complete their teacher courses,government failing to recruit them on pay roll uhhh.nonsense.

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