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Ugandan schools to reopen, UNEB exams set for March 2021

MOVING FORWARD: Education Minister Janet Museveni flanked by her state ministers and UNEB officials. A decision has been made to go ahead with re-opening of schools .

Kampala, Uganda |THE INDEPENDENT | All indications are that a dead year will not be declared, schools will reopen soon, and national exams usually set by the Uganda National Examinations Board (UNEB) in November and December, will likely go ahead, in March 2021.

According to a letter recently written by the Minister of Education Janet Kataha Museveni to Finance Minister Matia Kasaija seeking the release of capitation grants to schools, the focus will be on candidate classes to resume, for what would be a second term, on September 20, this year.

A source revealed that education authorities have therefore revised the Academic Year schedule to allow students to report for the ‘second term of school this month’, as part of the phased reopening of educational institutions across the country.

UNEB however insist they will announce their readiness to conduct the national examinations when there is an official communication from the Ministry of Education and Sports, which has not yet been sent.

“UNEB is proceeding with its preparations to conduct the national examinations at an appropriate time, and in accordance with a revised school calendar which will be published by the Ministry of Education and Sports when schools re-open,” said the board’s secretary Dan Odongo in a statement.

The Academic Year was prematurely cut short on March 18, 2020, as a precautionary measure to control the spread of the Coronavirus (COVID-19). As a result, over 15 million learners who are enrolled in schools at different education levels have been at home since the lockdown.

Around May, the government proposed to open up for candidate classes, however, the plan had not materialized to date with some voices asking the government to declare 2020 a dead year for education.

Now, sources at the Education Ministry have intimated that the academic year clock will be rewound to the second term.

Around this time of the year, in the normal academic year schedule, students would be reporting for the third term with candidates preparing for examinations which would begin around October. But, there has been a question of how learners would compensate for the second term given the fact that the government had failed to put up a feasible continuous learning program during the lockdown.

“Looking at the timeline it was nearly impossible for students to completely cover the syllabus and write their exams this year. It has been agreed upon that as students go back, the clock should be rewound to the second term,” a source told URN, basing on a letter recently written by the Minister of Education Janet Kataha Museveni to Finance Minister Matia Kasaija seeking the release of capitation grants to schools.

“It will be done in phases. Two or three weeks after candidates have reported, the ministry will assess the situation and if everything is fine, a second lot will be added, another one will also follow up. In the end, all students will be at school,” the source adds.

Second terms ends December

Tentatively, the ministry plans that the second term will end around mid-December and in late January or early February, the third term will kick-off. Candidates are then expected to write their final exams around March or April. Going forward, the academic year will be slowly harmonized to fit into the calendar year.

Okwakol, Janet Museveni and Odongo at the release of the UCE results.  The exams are tentatively sent for March.

“When schools reopen, the co-curricular activities will be temporarily suspended so that teachers concentrate on reintegrating learners into the school system, carry out remedial work and ensure that the syllabus is covered. There will be no examinations at the end of the second term,” the source said.

Usually, the registration for National Examinations at primary, O’ and A’levels starts in April ending in May with an extra month provided for latecomers. After registration, there are fours to five months before learners eventually write their examinations. Registration normally coincides with candidates’ application for placements in schools and institutions where they wish to be admitted for the next level of education. however, their entire process had been frozen.

Asked about how they intended to handle the examination process within the available situation, Dan Odongo the UNEB Executive secretary noted that they are just waiting for an official communication on the reopening so that they lay out their plan.

If nothing has changed, the reopening will soon be declared by the president and thereafter the ministry will officially adopt a strategy that will enable them to effectively implement the specific Standard Operating Procedures for Phased Reopening.

In one of the working documents recently shared, the Ministry of Education suggested enforcing reviews in the daily school routines to provide for shorter and core curriculum school days with classes scheduled between 8 a.m. and end at 1:30 p.m.

However, a school with huge candidate classes that cannot be accommodated in the available space was planned to have options of teaching either in shifts or an alternate day attendance schedule. Furthermore, all schools that reopen for candidates-only, according to the document, would operate as day or boarding but not both.

The ministry had also developed Standard Operating Procedures which include; availability of WASH facilities, the two-meter distance between learners, reducing the number of learners to at least 10 to 15 students in a standard classroom for primary and secondary and tertiary institutions and ensuring good ventilation.

Other SOPs include; regular disinfection, restricted community access, supervising break periods, and scattered release of students for breaks, lunch, and departures to limit interaction. But, sources also indicate that there are several reviews regarding the SOPs which will also be communicated after the awaited pronouncement.

Several headteachers say that the currently stipulated SOPs may be difficult to implement. Richard Abura, headteacher Nakasero primary school notes that with the resources at their disposal, it will be difficult to take on the entire school community.

Available documents indicate that besides the normal school budget, the ministry requires sh1.67 billion to facilitate the reopening for candidates and 97.6 billion Shillings in a scenario that requires all students to report to their respective schools. The said funds are to help implement the Standard Operating Procedures in full to prepare schools for reopening.

Even amid the COVID-19 Resurgence,  the governments around the world have started to slowly reopen schools as health experts say it’s vital for children to resume education. In most countries like the United Kingdom, there are operating on minimal procedures limited to physical distancing, wearing face masks, and sanitizing. However, some teachers’ unions have voiced concerns about the safety of staff and children as infection rates continue to rise.

Different surveys indicate that school closures have had negative effects on the education and wellbeing of many children and teenagers, while parents are struggling to ensure that their children get some form of learning during the lockdown.




  1. Hoping that everything goes on well and by God’s grace

  2. May God bless you for working hard in this program that has saved many Ugandan from covidv19

  3. That’s great coz we have been relaxed concerning academic issues


    Some schools no longer have teachers, all retired others died; Will the government recruit others?

  5. I propose that the govt tests all learners and teachers and issue out certificates before schools open.

    With the current rate of infection, I don’t think we are safe.., neither are the young ones safe.

  6. How safe are we as dead cases increase.

  7. Does that mean we shall have 2 sets of candidate classes next year???? If yes,how long will the vacation take for S.4’s and S.6

  8. there is still a problems,what we should put in mind is that taking this students back to won’t work out reason you haven’t states it well how about those is suppose to follow the candidates and then parent are not going to suffer to start looking for school fees,let’s us not the health workers that corona is not there because lack money it’s going create a mess #steven lauken candidate 2020

  9. Is this well thought out ? Has government put into consideration the private schools that handle the majority of the learners? Is it cost effective for the private schools to open for only the candidate classes? Has government made survey to establish whether parents can afford to pay fees.

  10. To me it is uncalled for, let’s try the new normal. A dead year unavoidable. SOP’s not easy to effect.

  11. Let us think deeply down in the grass route level,that is village level.How sure is the government that social distance will be maintained in the domestries,Class room and lining up system for meal.Let the government also think or look at the negative aspect of all steps and involve all stakeholders in this decisions especially teachers in both private and government schools. Parents be consulted too and how they feel about reopening of the School.

  12. It’s a good idea coz our children had lost hope and they were had for parents to control. However, I request dat the government clears uneb registration fee for candidates.

  13. It’s a good idea coz children had lost hope and they were hard for parents to control. However, I request dat the government clears uneb registration fee for candidates.

  14. Lets wait n c

  15. Ooh they don’t know how we have diverted from education to other businesses…. Please announce a dead year so we can finish the business we started and then we can go to school….

  16. Oloya moris Maxwell

    Well,we,respect & adore our stakeholders’ decisions coz it’s always after thorough discussion but however it’s still very tricky for the school to reopen so they better called up for another brainstorming meeting to realize that at grass root level where the majority exist only tears shall be she’d.Infact to my suspect a number of candidates might fail to turn up, thanks

  17. Hello Ugandans! This is a very brilliant decision done at a wrong time. Please COVID-19 is real and dangerous. Can young children manage to observe the SOPs? If health workers are getting infected and dieing in big numbers, how about these innocent souls? What is the hurry for? These children are here to stay. I would propose the Ministries come together and design better plans to start next year for all levels of education.
    Schools can have term two to start in March next year and every thing moves normally in the usual way. Do parents have the money to take parents back to school in the next two weeks? Are teachers there?
    Any way only Universities and Post Secondary education levels would be opened first this year as we study the trend of events. We shall learn from South Africa’s experience. Lets not put politics in this situation of COVI-19.

  18. Does it make economic sense for schools to have only one class for all that period. With the increased transport fares, will schools get funds to transport their staff? Can income from one class pay the staff?

  19. I am happy with that idea as a student and a candidate

  20. We are going a very sharp increase in the infection rate, imagine day scholars to go back home and picking the virus from parents who are going out there to hustle for basic needs and them taking it to school the next morning, infect classmates and boom the circle continues. Soon or later we will have a very number of positives and God forbid deaths.
    Ministry so first study all possibilities of infection and find a solution before leading young souls to their own pit…..
    We all remember the human jam that was caused by the closing. Even though they may argue that candidates only, that’s not a small number still.
    Don’t just open schools before publishing the guidelines to be followed by those schools

  21. Nice proposal to reopen for the finalists

  22. This may not workout well coz the proposed leaning period is too short. Remember we the candidates have for so long missed out the classroom learning & am sure most of the schools covered below half of the syllabus. To be sincere, media has not been all that effective coz most of the students are not used to such away of learning & some topics were being repeated in relation to the last terms work, all leading to waste of time. Some of us also never had access to it. This school reopening will give lots of pressure & panic 2 we the candidates due 2 the knocking UNEB moreover under sop’s. Try to extend the learning period by some months or the year may not be really fruitful & academical 2 most of the candidates. Better a dead year!!

  23. Concerned young fellow

    This is a good idea! Though basing on the prevailing situation globally, Ugandans should not go crazy. I can perfectly relate this to a situation where u have an umbrella when the rain is just starting then when the hail storm and heavy rain begins, en you throw away the umbrella. How much dis-service would u have done to yourself? Please, we are not rushing for anything , when we have life ,we can get all. Uganda, go slow

  24. The most important thing was for government to invest in the health sector by equipping hospitals where the sick would be directed to go. instead they are buying bicycles and motorcycles for movement people. Do they really know that covid is there?

  25. First ,the process of following SOP’s and supervising schools is rigid and complex in nature, mostly where we have day scholers. COVID 19 Symptoms take long (approx 2 weeks) to show, by this time someone has had many contacts.
    Secondly, how will the parents and the school negotiate payment of school fees since first term had gone half way before the lockdown?
    Lastly, if they find a case in a school, learning may stop and the school becomes a quarantine center, more frustration for the staff and students.
    There is more to be done than just following SOP’s.

  26. Ssebayiga Yekoyada

    I support the government for resuming with candidate education and am conc sure that we shall be safe against the virus

  27. The government has to take up the initiative of thnking about how private teachers are suffering and yet they do the most complicated job in developing the country.Rilly is there any value for teachers because this opened our eyes?

  28. People that are saying that schools should remain closed are in my opinion short sighted. The world that we competing with has actually found a way to move on. The fact that we don’t have online education services means we can’t afford to sit home and lose a whole year while the world moves on. Saying we can’t implement SOPs is not a viable excuse, teachers have threatened kids into doing different things, what’s so hard about this too. Personally, schools opening as soon as possible is what’s best for this country in the long run. Many kids are looking at international opportunities and I don’t think they should be held back because we can’t get out act together. That said, PUT ON YOUR MASKS.

  29. Remember 90% of the parents are not ready to send their students to School this year. They are ready for next year.I request government to do that research and decide.

  30. We need to learn to leave with covid. This virus is with us for a period we don’t know. So the earlier we are in the reality the better. We all need to remember their children who have to start year one if candidates don’t move on these kids will not join school. So it’s you and I to observe SOPS. For the reopening of school to workout or not. Wear your MASK for your school, children, to end the transmission

  31. Let schools start. Covid is not clearing out soon. How many dead years will u feclare for your Uganda? Coz u r not sure covid wont be here even all 2021! And there will be no time Ugandans will ever be ready to implement sops. A dead year out of children’s life is something you will never recover. Uneb should set exams up to the level students have studied . S4, set up to S3, P7, set up to P6, S6, set up to S5. Then schools will try n fo catch-up teaching for the rest of the classes. Afterall, since 1979, only less than 9 schools have been teaching n completing the recommended syllabus.

  32. The question is that, when the candidates students passed will they join the next class and add to the number of the previous student in that class? Will there be vacuum in another class. Wait, Example P.7 will sit and go to S.1, before COVID we already have S.1, so meaning they will still be S.1 and P.7 will pass to S.1. This will apply to all levels, S.6, e.t.c.
    If they government could think, Let this year be dead year and all student start fresh. The only class that will register many students is the BABY Class since we have kids that are growing and will go to school next year.

  33. I thank the ministry of education for reconsidering us to go back to school i really missed my lovely academic lessons and discusions at St jonah high school Namugongo in form Six (s.6)
    I remain

  34. But how about the sub candidates is this a dead year to them?

  35. 4 me as a person, l dn’t mind about reopening da schls bt de goven’t ov ug really should mind about da death pple in out said countries. Were they not educated? So go slow wen ur busy reopining schls, u may be opening more infected & death pple in our cntry .

  36. This is to help alot of ugandan young teachers who are right now in rigid consquencies so thanks to those responsible

  37. I think there is pressure to government for those take education as business. Let the government declare a dead year since each pupil or student is a candidate in his or her own class level plus those in institutes / tertiaries such that everybody is balanced. Most schools even many government schools cannot meet these SOPs!!! Save our money for better and good education quality. Otherwise once open we are cheated by money makers.

  38. I think all the dilemmas came with covid let all people embrace the effort of our gvt to control its spreading,so let’s start a fresh next yr.because even those who graduated are still …?

  39. Yo saying dat yo going to open for candidates only, and I ask myself like those who are in vacation especially s.6leavers will they join the universities 2gether with those current candidates,,,for sure am confused about that,, if yo to reopen xculs open for everyone

  40. it seems the idea of opening schools is being influenced by those who own private schools and yet some of them are decision makers in the government. they are focused on making money amidst the current COVID-19 pandemic. Parents have fear and the President ought as he has been critical over this issue.

  41. It’s sound and reason for the government to reopen schools for the candidates. This is because, Uganda,a country with about 45 million people. Out of this huge population, only 0.000001% of it have the virus. This has taken one pregnant year. How much population doesn’t have the virus? It will take years for the Covid19 to circulate around until when we have all become its veterans or its claimed. People should not be thinking of a dead year,but dead years if they don’t want the virus. No one wants it yes,but, we have nowhere to go. WE MUST LEARN HOW TO LEAVE WITH THE VIRUS or else,we the 15million young people in Uganda are gonna be robbed of our awesome future.

  42. Government wanted to kill who’s son or daughter life is more important than school we can still get good thing when we are living healthy not all people are rich consider all Ugandan poor

  43. i do not there is an accurate plan for re opening schools or at least the plan in place has not been well thought about….i mean for example if candidates go back right now for second term ,what will happen to the classes before and after? does it mean they will have their own academic year and the rest their own because if they are in third term by Jan and the rest are in first term….it doesn’t make sense plus i really think some schools were already too crowded before the virus….where will they get money to do expansions?!

  44. if adults have failed to respect the preventive measures put in place,i suggest ministry gives it another thought or else prepare massive grave yards.i really doubt if this decision was reached with critical considerations especially in the village settings.its not too late to revoke the decision.

  45. Guyz in the ministry think of a poor family student deep in the village underground who is on a Private school and parents struggle to get tuition think of those students and remember we all need education

  46. according to me, it’s too late for schools to re-open, coz candidates’ syllabus may not get complete,coz even when there was no corona virus i’ve never heard a school completed there s.4 syllabus and by now almost all the students may have pressure of studing which may lead to failure so i advise the Government to brainstorm and speak the truth.

  47. But as of now the president should again address the country to freeze out alk these confussions ,and we need to know how UNEB is going to set coz some schools were very far behind. Thx

  48. We hope for the betterment of lives during this season of the deadly coronavirus disease 2020.

  49. I think our own president should come up with some good words concerning about the candidate classes reopening, bcoz in some other schools, Students didn’t discover there senior 4 lessons, but they are still dealing with other few topics. So what are we going to do on the other topics that were not been thought; if the UNEB examiners set from those other key areas that even we didn’t touch?

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