MPs Demand Comprehensive Plan on Re-Opening of Schools

The chairperson of the committee Jacob Opolot observed that the children cannot study unsupervised through radio and television lessons and the majority of learners are faced with a strange language and approach that renders them unable to benefit from the lessons.

Members of the education committee of Parliament have raised concerns on the preparedness of the Education ministry to complete the academic year.

The committee was interacting with education officials on Tuesday about the government’s plan to reopen schools amidst the COVID-19 Pandemic. The meeting follows President Museveni’s declaration that schools would be allowed to reopen on October 15, to learners in candidate classes as well as finalists in tertiary institutions and universities.

The chairperson of the committee Jacob Opolot castigated the ministry for assuming that private schools can pick up immediately noting that many are now bankrupt and have collapsed. Opolot, as well as the other committee members, tasked the ministry to explain whether it was indeed ready to allow learners to report for classes.

Similarly, Kalungu West MP Joseph Sewungu castigated the ministry for leaving important decisions regarding education to the president, noting the absence of practical guidelines for educational institutions based on the Ministry of Health Standard Operating Procedures- SOPs.

Koboko District woman MP Magaret Babadiri also wanted answers on the ministry’s preparedness to allow schools to open their gates for learners.

The Ministry of Education Permanent Secretary Alex Kakooza noted that the Directorate of Education Standards has been inspecting schools using the health ministry’s SOPs to polish guidelines for reopening, he noted that the schools will no doubt need support, which has already been guaranteed by the Ministry of Finance.

State Minister for Higher Education John Chrysostom Muyingo told the committee that that to ensure readiness for the safe phased reopening of education institutions, the ministry has sensitized District Education Officers and managers of educational institutions on the implementation of standard Operating Procedures, and the release of capitation grants to enable them to acquire facilities for implementing SOPs.

He said that the government plans to distribute two standard face masks to each learner both in private and public schools, adding that all schools opening for candidates shall operate as day or boarding but not both. He added that for those students who will remain at home, the government was in the process of procuring nine million radios, five million of which will be assembled domestically while four million will be imported, to ensure continuity of learning.

Muyingo stated that a total of 522 audio and 390 video lessons both for primary and secondary schools have been recorded and the editing work to make them ready for broadcast is nearing completion. This is in addition to printed learning material that will require 158 billion Shillings to print. He added that the enhanced home study program will be rolled out to ensure that students can be examined and promoted in case the situation does not warrant reopening for all learners.

But Opolot observed that there was scepticism surrounding the ability of the government to assemble the radios and deliver them when it has just failed to deliver face masks and relief food to all citizens.

The Minister said that the National Curriculum Development Centre shall adopt the curriculum to focus on essential skills and knowledge that must be achieved at each level.

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