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Schools struggling to get learners back, weeks after reopening

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Apac, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT |  Several government-Aided primary schools at landing sites in Apac district are struggling to get their leaners back, almost a year after they were closed.  There are 12 schools across the landing sites in the district. 

Like all other schools, they reopened their doors on March 1, 2021, for the return of non-candidates, who had stayed home since March 18, 2020, when schools were closed to forestall the spread of coronavirus disease.  But they are recording just a fraction of the learners they had before the closure.

Patrick Onac, the head-teacher of Akuli Primary School says that only 21 of the 106 semi candidates they had in the first term before closure have reported back to school. He said that they are now engaging parents to encourage them to send children back to school.

At Ibuje primary school, there are only 22 out of 110 expected semi candidates. The head teacher Patrick Waca says more than 30 of the girls from this class conceived and got married during the lockdown while a number of boys are engaged in fishing activities, many of them earning a living for their families. 

Waca said the school management has now resorted to door-to-door mobilization to encourage patents to send the children back to school.

Before the closure of schools last year, Kwibale Annex Primary School had a the total enrollment of 14 pupils, while Wansolo Primary School had eight pupils with only 2 in Primary school. But Thomas Owani, the headteacher at Wansolo, says that they have embarked on a serious mobilization to forge the way forward.

Jacob Okello, the Chairman PTA Wansolo primary school says that most parents are facing a financial crisis and encouraged them to negotiate with schools to allow their children back.

The Apac District Acting Education Officer, Sam Atim, said 80 per cent of the semi candidates along landing site schools have not reported back to school. He attributes this to an operation by the Uganda Peoples Defence Forces-UPDF, in which a number of families were evicted. According to Atim, sensitization, and engagement with teachers and parents will greatly help in having the learners report back to school.

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