The prolonged closure of schools will cause a great decline in literacy rates and exacerbate school dropout in the country, the 2020 state of population report has revealed.
“The prolonged closure of schools is amplifying the vulnerabilities girls face by removing the school, a core support structure that has been providing relatively safer spaces for children in Uganda,” the report, released by government yesterday stated.
The report, which was based on a national assessment by the National Population Council, focused on the impact of Covid-19 on population and development.
It states that between January and June, 6,888 cases of defilement were reported across the country with 70 per cent being girls in the age bracket of 15 to 17 years.
Kasese, Kitgum, Kyegegwa, Lyantonde and Ngora districts registered 2,372 teenage pregnancies during the period schools have remained closed. Schools were closed in March to curb the spread of Covid-19 and reopened in October for candidates.
“It is important that the sector encourages and carries forward the multi-pronged approach to ensure that learners with different needs and different realities are provided with an opportunity to access education through the means most suitable to them,” the report recommended.
Speaking during the launch of the report, Prof Fredrick Makumbi from Makerere University School of Public Health asked the Ministry of Education to urgently rethink its homeschooling strategies to ensure learning continuity.
Impact on economy, development
The report also stated that Uganda’s policy responses were on average more stringent relative to the rest of the region and may explain the severity of measures on the economy, while controlling the impact of Covid-19 on human life.
However, the report noted that: “Uganda’s business climate has significantly deteriorated, with expectations of further decline in the subsequent quarters. This is likely because the pandemic has severely affected access to credit and inputs particular among medium and small scale enterprises in the manufacturing and service sectors,” the report reads.
A third of the businesses reduced their workforce by 50 per cent and another third reduced their workforce by a range of 26 to 50 per cent.
Of the employees affected by the pandemic, 22 per cent experienced salary and wage reduction while 38 per cent were terminated.