What you need to know:
- According to the 2022/2023 schools and other institutions calendar issued by the Ministry of Education and Sports early this year, third term commenced on September 5 and is expected to end on December 9.
The Minister of Health, Dr Jane Ruth Aceng, has asked the Ministry of Education and Sports to consider early examinations for non-candidate classes so that schools can close early for the third term holidays.
Dr Aceng said the move is aimed to decongest schools and minimise the risk of spreading Ebola.
“The Permanent Secretary recently, in one of her addresses, [urged] schools to ensure that they follow the standard operating procedures (SOP) during this time until the children do exams and go home. However, it would be extremely nice if the Ministry of Education considered early exams so that we are only left with the candidates,” Dr Aceng said while giving Ebola updates on national television on Sunday.
“We know that the timeframe for candidates to do their exams has already been fixed. The fewer the learners at school, the easier for us to carry out surveillance and ensure that learners are safe,” she added.
She did not specify when she would prefer the term to end and whether the closure will affect tertiary institutions.
Last week, the Ministry of Health announced that at least six pupils from three schools in Rubaga Division in Kampala were among the 47 Ebola patients fighting for their lives at various treatment centres in the country.
In an interview with this publication yesterday, the director general for Health Services, Dr Henry Mwebesa, said one of the children passed away last Friday but the rest were improving.
According to the 2022/2023 schools and other institutions calendar issued by the Ministry of Education and Sports early this year, third term commenced on September 5 and is expected to end on December 9.
Dr Aceng said in the meantime, schools must create a safe school environment by instituting mandatory temperature screening and washing hands all the time.
She said any child who falls sick while at school should be reported to the health workers immediately so that he/she is evacuated for testing, and that those who miss school should be followed up.
She also said a ban on school visitations still stands.
In addition, contacts of Ebola patients will not be allowed to travel abroad to avoid exporting the virus to other countries.
The Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Health, Dr Diana Atwine, challenged the corporate organisations to embrace SOPs.
“We want to see hand washing facilities and temperature checking happening in banks and other workplaces. Temperature checking helps to detect symptoms early. Fever is the first symptom normally to present,” Dr Atwine said.
Kampala City Lord Mayor Erias Lukwago said since schools are not the only places that are congested, the term should go on as planned.
“The whole of Kampala for example is congested. The markets, the shopping malls and the parks are all congested. It is a bit tricky because we have had two dead years due to Covid-19 and now students are struggling to catch up. If the term is cut short, it will have adverse effects on learners,” Mr Lukwago said.
Mr Yusuf Welunga, the president of the Uganda National Students’ Association, also opposed the move saying it is not the best direction to take.
“We appreciate the fact that the disease is with us and I encourage students to be cautious. However, sitting for examinations is not the best option. Students are not prepared to have abrupt examinations as this affects their performance,” Mr Welunga said.
He added that sending children home early will increase the financial burden on the parents, some of whom have just completed paying school fees.
Mr Hassadu Kirabira, the National Private Educational Institutions Association secretary, said whereas they don’t want to see Ebola cases in schools, the institutions should be informed if schools are to close early so that they can plan better.
He said some of the schools have not yet completed the syllabus.
Uneb exam schedule
• Senior Four commenced exams on October 16. These will end on November 18.
• Primary Seven candidates will sit for the Primary Leaving Examinations (PLE) on November 8 and 9.
• Senior Six candidates will commence their exams on November 21 and end on December 9.