The UK and Irish governments have donated Shs9 billion to UNICEF to support Uganda’s sustainable strategy for reopening schools.
The primary focus will be on school-based surveillance to assist in early identification, reporting, and management of emerging cases of Covid-19 in schools.
The secondary focus will be on mental health and psychosocial well-being to help teachers and students readjust after two years of virus-induced isolation.
This is expected to have a lasting impact on the education sector, enabling it to remain open and provide education to children in the country for a long time to come.
Up to 40,000 schools across the country (both public and private) will be equipped to track and manage COVID-19 cases and support students and teachers on re-entry through the initiative.
The UK government has provided £450k (about Shs 2,153,403,038) towards the initiative, while the Irish government has provided Euro 1.8m (about Shs 7,200,521,083) for the overall government of Uganda school reopening strategy.
Part of the funds is being used for school-based surveillance and mental health services in the Karamoja sub-region.
At the opening of a one-day training programme for teachers and headteachers at Buganda Road Primary School in Kampala on Thursday, British High Commissioner Kate Airey said: “I sympathise with my Government of Uganda colleagues who have had to make really difficult decisions in the last two years.” I, like all Ugandans, was relieved when the Government announced schools would be reopening on January 10, 2022.”
According to her, regaining the ground lost will not be easy.
“And ensuring this is essential not just for our children on an individual level, but to ensure Uganda’s economic development. Without investment in human capital, without schools remaining open, I fear Ugandans will start to fall behind regional peers,” she said before adding that Uganda must create a system to ensure that schools remain open, and education can carry on without further interruptions.
The UNICEF country representative, Dr Munir A. Safieldin said, “I share UNICEFs respect for all head-teachers and teachers present here. Others can support, but only you can keep the schools safe and ensure that children receive the quality education they need and deserve. We are aware that there are many challenges, and your task at the forefront of this effort is among the most difficult. However, if anyone can make this happen, teachers can. The future of a generation of children, and the future of the country, is in your able hands.”
Cormac Shine, Chargé d’Affaires at the Embassy of Ireland, said Ireland, along with their development partners, remains committed to supporting education in Uganda and that the safe reopening of schools is “a landmark achievement after a challenging few years.”
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