Janet blocks reopening of international schools 

First Lady Janet Museveni. Ms Museveni has cautioned children and young people against gadget and social media addiction. PHOTO / FILE

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Belgium ambassador Rudi Veestraeten, had asked Ms Museveni to reopen international schools because their academic year starts in September, while that of Ugandan traditional schools starts in January

The minister of Education and Sports, Ms Janet Museveni, yesterday rejected pleas by the Belgium ambassador to reopen international schools before the end of year so that their academic year is not disrupted.

Belgium ambassador Rudi Veestraeten, had asked Ms Museveni to reopen international schools because their academic year starts in September, while that of Ugandan traditional schools starts in January.

Mr Veestraeten said if international schools are left to reopen in January with other local schools, they will have lost half a year.

“If the Ministry of Education can permit international schools to reopen, they will follow guidelines just like they did last year. A number of diplomats send their children to these schools, so they are requesting the ministry to allow them to reopen before next year,” Mr Veestraeten added.

The ambassador made the request yesterday during the official donation of more than 600,000 vaccines to the Ministry of Education at State House Nakasero for teachers, non-teaching staff and students above 18 years.

In her explanation, however, Ms Museveni said most learners are day scholars so they can easily transmit infections from schools to their parents.

 “I received another letter from another ambassador other than you asking us to reopen international schools sooner than later. The problem we have been having is learners carrying the virus from schools to their parents. How shall we explain to communities if this happens?” Ms Museveni said.

She said it will look unfair to reopen international schools and leave out local ones, asking them to continue with online teaching and when they want to conduct exams, the ministry will give them clearance to do so.

“I want you to understand and take our message to other colleagues. Government will reopen all institutions when it is safe. If we vaccinate all the teachers, non-teaching staff and elders in the community, we shall open schools knowing we have done everything to save lives,” Ms Museveni said.

The ministry of Education this year came under attack when it permitted international schools to reopen institutions to conduct their end of year exams, with the majority accusing the ministry of double standards.

More than 15 million learners are still locked at home, with some, especially nursery and Primary One to Three pupils ,spending nearly two years home without stepping foot in class.

Government closed all institutions of learning first in March last year, and again in June this year for the second time. The public has been putting pressure on the government to reopen schools before the year ends in vain.

President Museveni early this month cleared universities to reopen on November 1, whileprimary and secondary schools scheduled to reopen next year.

Higher institutions

Meanwhile, the Minister for Higher Education, Mr John Chrysostom Muyingo, said the students who sat for the 2020 Uganda Advanced Certificate of Education and qualified to join tertiary institutions will have to wait longer after their planned reopening in November.

There, however, has been confusion among members of the public about which category of students will report back first.

Mr Muyingo said only First Year students who did not complete their 2020/2021 academic year and continuing students will report back on November 1, while the second batch of First Year students who have just completed their Senior Six will have to wait until those currently in First Year class proceed to Second Year to give them room.

He said the ministry is working on the guidelines on how they will reopen and will issue dates for Senior One, Senior Five and First Year university students.