Owners of private schools under their umbrella body, Proprietors of Private Educational Institutions Association in Uganda (PPEIAU), have asked government to hire their staff for the virtual learning programme.
Education minister Janet Museveni last Friday said government is developing an e-learning framework that will guide education institutions during the current closure over Covid-19. The government is also in the process of drafting an e-learning syllabus through National Curriculum Development Centre (NCDC).
The chairperson of PPEIAU, Mr Mike Kironde, said the government’s virtual learning programme should not leave out teachers and students in the various private schools across the country.
“We also request that as government engages teachers in government-aided schools to use radio sets and other media outlets, private teachers should also be given opportunity to be part of this scheme,” Mr Kironde told Daily Monitor in an interview yesterday.
“Our view is that since the teachers in private schools are not paid, they should be hired by the government to boost virtual teaching and learning,” he added.
Mr Kironde said private schools represent a big number of children government wants to teach during the lockdown and so it would be good to bring in private teachers.
Private schools have also rejected the suggestion of a dead year and proposed entry exams for students when schools reopen.
“Government should attach an entry exam. When children come back, they write an entry exam so that they take this virtual learning serious at home. Otherwise, the way things are, students will not take it serious and resources will be wasted,” Mr Kironde said.
Calls to the permanent secretary at Ministry of Education, Mr Alex Kakooza, went unanswered while State Minister for Higher Education John Muyingo’s known telephone number was unavailable by press time.
The private school proprietors also raised concern over accumulating loan interest despite talk of loan restructuring by commercial banks.
Applications for loan restructuring under education amount to Shs5.7 billion.
They said about 600 schools have outstanding loan obligations with different commercial banks and Saccos countrywide.
“Commercial banks are only willing to reschedule the loans to future dates and the interest keeps on accumulating and being compounded to the principal.
The proprietors find such to be very unfair and do propose that all the outstanding loans offered to private educational institutions before Covid-19 lockdown by commercial banks be frozen and shifted to future dates when schools fully reopen,” Mr Christopher Mugwanya, the vice chairperson of PPEIAU, said.
Mr Wilbrod Owor, the executive director of Uganda Bankers Association, said there are different types of loan restructuring with different conditions.
“They can restructure and just elongate the time. There is also a type where the interest can be frozen and capitalised,” he said, urging the private schools to negotiate suitable terms with their respective banks.