Schools ignore govt directive, fully reopen

Monday April 12 2021
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Primary Seven candidates at Kyebambe Model Primary School in Fort Portal City observe Covid-19 standard operating procedures in October 2020. The new curriculum is trapped in a multi-billion financial shortfall. Photo/Alex Ashaba

By Monitor Team

A section of private schools in various districts  countrywide have ignored the reporting dates set by the Ministry of Education and allowed all learners to resume normal classes, Daily Monitor has established.

According to the Ministry of Education schedule only learners in Primary Four, Five and Six,  Senior Three and Five were authorised to return to school.

Government allowed this arrangement to utilise the available facilities in a staggered manner in the face of Covid-19 pandemic.


However, a survey  by  Daily Monitor  reveals  that  many private schools have gone  against  government’s phased re-opening of classes and received learners in Primary One, Two and Three who were expected  to officially report on June 7.

 In some secondary schools, Senior One and Two students, who are supposed to report on  April 12 and May 31 respectively, were secretly  received a couple of weeks  earlier.

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Daily Monitor investigations reveal that these classes are operating with full knowledge of local authorities in some districts.

For instance in Mubende District, some private primary schools have been fully operational since February and learners are preparing to write their mid-term exams.

“When the school director learnt that international schools had reopened for all learners, he instructed us to talk to parents to bring all children in different classes to resume normal learning,” a teacher at one of the private primary schools in Mubende Municipality, who preferred anonymity, told this newspaper at the weekend.

In some urban centres, learners in the pre-primary schools (kindergartens), which the government said will reopen after the majority of Ugandans have been vaccinated against Covid-19, are also studying but  are not allowed to put on uniforms.


“When the Ministry of Education issued the timetable for learners, toddlers in kindergartens were left out. This is our own arrangement, we only teach them for two hours and they go back home. However we ensure that they observe the standard operating procedures like social distancing and regular hand washing,” a female teacher at one of the kindergartens in Kyengera Town Council, said

 The Masaka inspector of schools, Mr Joseph Lutaya, said:“It is true several schools have allowed all children to report, but this is out of order and we shall not allow it. We are going to intensify our operations to ensure that   learners who were allowed to report are the only ones attending lessons,” he said.


Mr Sulaiman Ssenyange , a businessman in Masaka City , said the fact that some schools have all classes operating normally  indicates that authorities nolonger inspect institutions of learning as they are supposed to .

“This puts the learners at risk and government needs to swiftly check this,” Mr Ssenyange , said.

In Entebbe, Ms Sarah Nabirye, the inspector of schools, said the schools in the area are still following the instructions from the government.


Ms Rosemary Byabashaijja, the Mpigi resident district commissioner, said the district security team   and education department will carry out a joint operation to arrest all defiant school proprietors .

In Kalangala District, Mr Ronald Mutebi, the inspector of schools, revealed that they do on spot –checks   in schools to ensure that the set guidelines are followed.

 Kalangala has a total of 25 schools of which 22 are primary schools.


Mr Paul Bwana Nantamu, the Sembabule District education officer, said a recent inspection of schools revealed that many are following the set timetable.

“What is being done by government is for the good of learners, but some people mix issues of life with business -something we can’t tolerate as leaders,” he said

  Mr Patrick Zziwa, the Bukomansimbi District education officer, told Daily Monitor that they are engaging school management committees to ensure that school heads do not stealthily allow learners who are not expected to be at school to attend lessons.

Mr Denis Byabashaija, a teacher in one of the private schools in Kiboga District,said the government has no justification to reopen classes in phases yet it allowed churches and  markets  to operate provided they follow SOPs.


But Ms Doreen Keita, the Kiboga deputy resident district commissioner said her office has already received information that some schools are fully operational and she is yet to take action.

“We are going to arrest those who think they are special. As government, we cannot work with people who do not adhere to rules and regulations,” she said

Jinja District Inspector of Schools Elias Kisambira said if they confirm that some school administrators   hoodwinked parents to bring all the learners they will penalise them.

The Kabale District Education Officer, Mr Moses Bwengye, said they have received rumours that some private school proprietors have fully opened their schools for all learners.


“Our team is moving around. If anyone is found disregarding the established guidelines they shall be prosecuted,” Mr Bwengye said.

In Luweero District, some parents claim that they talked to the school administrators who assured them that it was okay to take all their children back to school.

 “I mind about the future of my children. I made wider consultations before allowing the children back to school,” Mr Emma Ssenkeeto, a parent in Luweero Town Council, said. However, the Luweero District Education Officer, Ms Florence Bbosa said her office is not aware about the schools that have allowed all classes to report back to school.


In Mbale, the district Inspector of Schools, Mr Sam Paddy Khaukha, said: “I have been getting calls, but whenever we visit the said schools, the administrators deny, we are going to carry out further investigations,”

 In Tororo, the district education officer,  Mr Albert Odoi, said: “Some schools have been operating secretly. We have embarked on massive inspection.”

Mr Peter Pex , the Bulambuli resident district commissioner ,said they have so far  registered one case where a head teacher of a private school admitted to have fully reopened for all learners.


“The head teacher said he did so due to pressure from parents. However, he was ordered to send the children back home,” he said.

Efforts to speak to Mr George Mutekanga, the commissioner for private schools at Ministry of Education, were futile as our repeated calls to him went unanswered .

The government in March last year closed all institutions of learning   following the Covid-19 outbreak in the country.


The institutions were in their first term of the academic year and subsequently missed two terms in the year.

 Last week, the government reported a significant increase in Covid-19 positive cases and warned that the country is nearing the onset of the second wave of the pandemic, which could affect livelihoods and the economy.

Compiled by Al-Mahdi Ssenkabirwa , Robert Muhereza ,Denis Edema, Wilson Kutamba, Eve Muganga, Sylvester Ssemugenyi ,Fred Ssewajje, Brian Adams Kesiime, Dan Wandera &Fred Wambede


Calender

According to the revised school calendar, Primary Four and Primary Five, who reported on April 6 and will break off on June 4.  New Senior One entrants are expected to report today (April 12) following the exit of Senior Four candidates who completed their final exams last week. Senior One learners will break off for holidays on July 3.

Senior Two students will report on May 31 after Senior Three and Senior Five students have gone for holidays. Lower primary classes will report on June 7 and close on July 24.

The 2021 school calendar, which could have commenced in February, will officially start on August 9 with the first term running up to October 29. The second term will commence on November 15 and end on February 4 next year. However, learners will be allowed a week break to celebrate Christmas and return after the festive season to complete the term.


Compiled by Al-Mahdi Ssenkabirwa , Robert Muhereza ,Denis Edema, Wilson Kutamba, Eve Muganga, Sylvester Ssemugenyi ,Fred Ssewajje, Brian Adams Kesiime, Dan Wandera &Fred Wambede

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