Govt to issue new school calendar

Tuesday September 22 2020

Students sit their national examination in 2016. Government is to issue new school calendar ahead of reopening. PHOTO | ABUBAKER LUBOWA

By Damali Mukhaye
By Patience Ahimbisibwe

The biggest worry for parents, learners and school owners was the date when the  schools would reopen. 
That ended on Sunday when President Museveni announced October 15 for schools to reopen for candidate classes.
However, what was not announced is when the school term will end, when the third term starts and when the candidates will sit their final examinations.
The Ministry of Education Permanent Secretary, Mr Alex Kakooza, on Monday said this would be the second term since the first term ended abruptly in March when the lockdown was announced.
He said the minister of Education, Ms Janet Museveni, will announce the new school calendar before the end of week.
He declined to give further details. However, sources yesterday said  the ministry’s technical team had handed over to minister Museveni, the new school calendar for approval. 
Sources said she was due to sit with other top ministry officials to make the final decision on the dates for the end of the new term, beginning of the third term and when the national examinations will be held.
The sources said Janet will be the one to announce the final new school calendar.
Initially, the national education taskforce had proposed that the second term ends in December to give students two weeks of holidays and they report back for third term in January. Then they would study for one month and sit national examinations in February.
However, this timing coincides with the dates for the 2021 General Election. For that reason the schedule has accordingly been changed and the new dates will be communicated this week.
The Uganda National Examinations Board Secretary, Mr Daniel Odongo, said they will release the timetable for the national examinations after receiving the new school calendar from the ministry.
The secretary general of Uganda National Teachers Association, Mr Filbert Baguma, said teachers are ready for the reopening but cautioned that government must expedite the implementation of standard operating procedures  to ensure safety of teachers and learners.
He also warned that opening schools for only candidates will be disastrous.
Mr Baguma said this means that next year there will be no candidates in the exited classes and there will be double intake in Baby, Senior One and Senior Five classes and First Year in universities and tertiary institutions.
He said the number of students will be too high yet the existing structures cannot accommodate all of them.
He asked government to plan in advance to address the influx.
Mr Baguma also called upon government to pay the registration fees for candidates in both government and private schools because majority of parents do not have money having lost businesses or jobs due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
He said this would at least help the learners sit their national examinations even if they fail to get tuition fees.
Sources said Ms Museveni will meet private school owners and administrators to discuss the outstanding challenges and issues such as management of the Covid-19 threat in case new infections occur at schools.
Sources said the private schools also want government to pay for them utility bills such as water and power since the students will be few and their tuition fees, will be too little to run the school.