Sunday February 23 2014

Help poor schools, don’t just close them

Twelve primary schools in Kasese were last week closed after failing to conform to the minimum required health and operation standards.

The exercise which was enforced by municipal education department with the aid of the police, also saw the arrest of several teachers.

This sends a warning to (private) schools that for several reasons compromise the safety of pupils under the pretext of providing education.
No school should be allowed to operate in structures that do not meet minimum standards, let alone flouting health and sanitation measures as demanded by the authority that oversees the standards of such schools.

It is important to note, however, that the 12 schools that deservedly so suffered the fate of the municipal authority are not the only ones that are operating in total disregarded of the required standards and guidelines.

And this means that such enforcement (done in Kasese) should only be intensified further—across the country.

But that said, the strategy should also factor in transformation rather than permanent closure as has happened with the 12 schools in western Uganda.

It is only logical, given the fact that most of these schools are community founded because the government has no such educational facilities in the area, or the available private schools are too expensive for the rural folks to afford.

Therefore, a deliberate move to help these schools meet the required guidelines is a far more acceptable bargain given the collateral damage that comes with the outright closure. With the closure, the children will end up being a nuisance as their pre-occupation of the day will be loitering rather than learning something, no matter how small it is while at school.

Yet should the schools be helped to get back to their feet, everybody will be the winner.
And if it remains permanently closed, as is the case now, everybody loses.