Uganda Reopens Schools For Final Year Students

Ugandan President, Yoweri Museveni

Schools in Uganda have reopened for final year students, seven months after all education institutions in the country were closed as a coronavirus preventive measure.

Final year students in higher education institutions are also resuming face-to-face learning.

The schools are required to put in place hand-washing and temperature checking facilities, and also ensure that the students maintain physical distance while in class and around the schools.

But many schools across the country have not met these standards and will remain closed.

Uganda has so far confirmed 10,096 cases but the rate of infection has been steadily rising, averaging about 1,000 new cases a week.

But if this phase of reopening schools goes smoothly then the education sector is expected to fully reopen in early 2021.

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President Yoweri Museveni gave the green light to the reopening of educational institutions for final-year students last month, having closed campuses in March to reduce the spread of the coronavirus.

“We have decided to reopen schools for finalists in tertiary colleges and universities because the cost of waiting any further is quite high,” said Museveni.

“If the batch of 2020 do not move on, what will happen to the batch of 2021? Can we afford to have two batches in 2021? The answer is a clear ‘No’. [Two batches] would create a jam in terms of the usual transition from primary schools to secondary schools and then tertiary colleges or universities.”

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But some are sceptical about allowing students to return when the country is still grappling with cases of infection.

“E-learning would be the ideal medium of instruction during this crisis,” said Michael Niyitegeka, programme director at Clarke International University.

“We are welcoming resumption of contact learning despite the fact that the coronavirus is still a threat because we don’t have an alternative.”

Museveni, however, said learners should be safe if they and their institutions adhere to Ministry of Health’s guidelines and standard operating procedures for the prevention of COVID-19.

“The total number of finalists [in the education institutions] is less than 10% of the total enrolment. Therefore, each group of finalists will have bigger space for social distancing,” he said.

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