By Carol Nyangoma Mukisa
Your Excellency, immeasurable distinctions be given to you for your tireless efforts in the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic in Uganda.
Unfortunately, Mr President, is that a dead year for students, the finalists especially, is a dead deal for the Ugandan learners, businesses and other sectors due to the following reasons:
Your first wise idea/advice that finalists be allowed to resume. Dear Your Excellency, as you had put it on May 18, it was so meaningful. This meant that reopening of education institutions would be in phases, which was so logical since every school/university/college has space big enough to keep, teach and supervise the finalists with full observance of all the standard operating procedures (SOPs) without any problem. In fact, even government seed schools could afford this.
Finalists are the doctors, engineers, researchers, technicians, teachers, metrologists and scientist-advisers we need tomorrow before we get a shortage of them.
Yet natural harzards are on the increase. For example, in Bududa and Kasese, which have always experienced landslides and floods respectively.
In addition to having more ability to take in the track of records as compared to the likes of shopping malls and public transport means, learners are more obedient, loyal, and able to observe and follow all the SOPs to the maximum with the supervision of their educators compared to all other groups in the country.
Every school with its parents have the love, willingness and ability to protect their children with all the SOPs, but while they are studying. This is better than declaring a dead year. Moreover, education institutions can carry out daily temperature checkups even of day scholars before they are allowed to interact with others. There should also be temperature checks and sanitisers. More so, most schools and universities already have stand- by medical practitioners like nurses, doctors and security officers at entry points with enough information and tools to promote the SOPs!
The bazukulu you intend to protect are the ones currently involved in markets, taxis, streets, supermarkets, football teams, especially in the villages, in Kikuubo, construction sites with and for their parents businesses.
They are now facing challenges of unwanted pregnancies, child marriages, ill-prepared political careers. I have seen three of my S6 students campaigning for position of councillor. There is untold suffering, immorality and general recklessness about life by some students. Visit Kansanga, Kabalagala, and Mengo in Kampala and you will see. These can neither go back home nor get enough support from home.
At worst, let finalists resume their studies, they can be accommodated with ease. The extension of the lockdown will also leave the economy struggling. The demand for food, especially maize, beans, beef, eggs that are known to be consumed by school going-children have gone. Not leaving out the suppliers and manufacturers of goods such as furniture, textiles, uniforms, liquid soaps. Some of these got loans they are already chocking on.
Talk of the great losses in revenue by URA, banks that have lost the regular turnover of customers affecting the cash-flow. Private institutions pay NSSF and if added to PAYE, the average month pay per employee can be Shs300,000x734,860 employees, which totals Shs220,458,000,000.
Best way forward is to re-open the education institutions and we manage the Covid-19 pandemic as much as we can.
Ms Carol Nyangoma Mukisa is a social analyst. The article was co-authroed by head teachers from Wakiso District.