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Janet non-committal on schools reopening

Education minister Janet Museveni

Education minister Janet Museveni

The ministry of Education and Sports is still uncertain about the reopening of education institutions in the country. 

Last month, President Yoweri Museveni announced fresh restrictions as part of measures to control the Covid-19 transmissions in the country in face of the second wave of the pandemic. Among the restrictions, the president directed the closure of all educational institutions across the country for at least 42 days.

The lockdown is scheduled to end next month on August 2 but many anticipate that it might be extended as the country continues to battle Covid-19 infections. 

Education minister Janet Kataha Museveni has said that it is premature to reveal when school will reopen.  

"I don't want to talk about something we're not yet confident about. Because really, these decisions are made by government after they have been discussed at cabinet level and government is contented that this is the right time for schools to reopen, to close when schools will close and when that has not been done it is premature for anybody to say we shall open at this time," Mrs Museveni said.    

After the closure of educational institutions was announced, the Education ministry made tentative adjustments to the school calendar. At that time, schools were expected to reopen on July 19 to enable learners to complete their respective syllabi before being promoted to the next classes.  

This arrangement was cut short when the president declared a fresh 42-day lockdown on June 18. Sources at the ministry of Education note that they have been discussing possible situations of reopening schools but they are yet to come with a reopening schedule.  

“The ministry would like all learners to cover something on their current class syllabus before they are promoted but the extended lockdown distorted the times. For example, they are classes like P1 to P3 who have never returned to school since march last and authorities are planning to see how they can be fitted in,” a source noted.

Currently, there are concerns from parents, school owners, educationists, and learners alike that the more the ministry delays in making decisions and developing plans for reopening, the more the sector will be affected.   

The system is getting clogged with candidates being passed on to the next level of education yet those in the next classes have not been promoted. For instance, with Primary Leaving Examinations (PLE) results released, the 2020 candidates have been promoted to S.1 but those currently in the class have only spent a few weeks in school with most of them not even covering half of the syllabus.  

As a tentative solution, Mrs Museveni notes that parents should embrace home-schooling as the ministry looks at the possible plan.  

"What is more important? We have the struggle for education and the struggle for life? What is more important? Should we just push the children to catch Covid because we're trying to get education? Can't these children get education at a later age or? Homeschooling is happening across the globe, people are homeschooling their children. Our families must learn to homeschool our children especially the little ones and I encourage all parents to now consider homeschooling...So I don't want to say that we have a time in future that we know that we'll open the schools but for sure we will. How we will do it?" said the minister. 

Mrs Museveni further urged parents to embrace homeschooling as they await the reopening of schools. 

"Instead of opening fingers at teachers and government, I think it is time that as a society and a people we rise up and help ourselves, help each other, work together and find a way to ensure that our children will learn. What we're doing as ministry of Education is to make sure that the home study materials we send are comprehensive for the whole year such that a child who is in primary 2 or 3 has all the education they are supposed to do in that year. If by God's grace, there is an opening they open to do exams and they can go to another class which would be helpful am sure," she added. 

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