Schools to reopen for only 3 more classes

Thursday December 03 2020
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Primary Seven candidates attend classes at Mpara Primary School in Kyegegwa District on November 10. Plans are underway to recall a few more learners to resume school next year. PHOTO / Bill Oketch

By Patience Ahimbisibwe

Parents should brace to stay with their children longer after it was established that plans are underway to recall a few learners to school next year following more than eight months of no studies. 
Mr Ismail Mulindwa, the director of basic education in the Ministry of Education, however, said the decision will be informed by an assessment expected to be done next week.

“We can’t wake up and say we are going to add other classes without knowing what is happening. The Directorate of Education Standards is preparing to assess capacity on other classes with two metre distance. Whatever decision we take, we must be within the confines of the Covid-19 standard operating procedures,” Mr Mulindwa told Daily Monitor yesterday.

He neither denied nor confirmed their plan to take on only sub-candidate classes but insisted they will not take on all the learners.
Sources at the ministry, who preferred anonymity, said their plan is to have sub-candidate classes ( Primary Six, Senior Three and Senior Five) join the candidate classes when the report in January for their final term.    
The sources said this will enable the continuing students progress to another class. But the sources warned that the other classes will automatically be promoted.

Mr Mulindwa, who chairs the ministry’s Covid-19 taskforce, said while they had planned for the candidates to report on January 11 for third term, this will be extended by a week to allow learners of voting age participate in the presidential and parliamentary elections scheduled for January 14.
He expressed hope that life could return to normal soon with reports of Covid-19 vaccines and treatment. 
Without disclosing which schools have been affected by the virus after they reopened for candidate classes, Mr Mulindwa said they had managed to control the infections.

“It’s a tricky situation. How do we move these other students without freeing other classes? We are also thinking of automatic promotion. But these are my views. The President has hinted on it before. We don’t want to jam the system,” Mr Mulindwa said. 
However, inspectors yesterday said they had not received money to carry out the assessment supposed to inform government whether it is safe to allow more learners return to school. 

“We don’t have funds. If we are lucky and get some money, we will go back next week to check what we left behind. Some schools had complied but they could have relaxed and thus the cases you are seeing. If there are schools not observing the SOPs, we cancel the certificate,” the source said. 
Mr Alex Kakooza, the ministry’s Permanent Secretary, said they will only confirm how many classes to include  on after an assessment.

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“We are going to assess how schools managed the candidate classes. This (report) will direct us what to do next. Give us some time,” Mr Kakooza said.
Mr Mulindwa advised parents not to worry and succumb to school threats to pay fees for services they have not received. He said government would take a decision that takes care of all the concerns.
“What if the government declares a dead year? What if they declare automatic promotion? What will happen? Every school must work within the policies and guidance being given not to cause anxiety among stakeholders. We have told them this many times,” Mr Mulindwa said. 

It was also established that while National Curriculum Development Centre completed the development of e-learning materials, they have not been distributed to the learners in their homes over lack of funds. 
Officials have all remained tight- lipped on the funding gap for school inspection and procuring homeschooling materials. 
“Homeschooling will happen but we have funding challenges,” Mr Mulindwa said.
Schools were closed on March 20 following the outbreak of coronavirus. The ministry later proposed a phased reopening starting with candidate classes, which reported on October 15. 

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