President Yoweri Museveni has given an all-clear to semi candidate students to resume school on March 1. In a televised address on Thursday, Museveni said students in primary six, senior three, senior five can resume school to complete the 2020 academic which will run up to end of July. The president also said universities and other tertiary institutions can resume on-campus classes albeit in a "staggered" manner with strong adherence to coronavirus standard operating procedures (SOPs).
The end of the academic year means that learners at different levels will now be moving to the next levels or classes on the ladder of education. In Uganda, the academic year usually runs from late January to early December with three terms covering about 260 days of curricula and co-curricular activities, assessment, and national examinations.
However, the 2020 academic year was interrupted by the Covid-19 pandemic which forced the government to close down all educational institutions in March 2020.
At that time of the closure, the idea was that learners could report back to school after 32 days. But, eleven months down the road, a few learners in candidate classes and higher education finalists have been able to resume teaching and learning activities.
Museveni said the returning students will study in a staggered system where different groups of learners will be reporting to school on different days as decided by the ministry or school authorities. He further argues that normal learning will possibly resume after a section of Ugandans have been vaccinated against the coronavirus.
On the fate of learners in other classes, the president says they will also return to school after candidates have finished sitting their examinations in April this year. He, however, advises that they will also learn based on a staggered system blended with long-distance education whose detailed planned will be worked out later by the ministry of Education.
Museveni also expressed disappointment with the MPs who frustrated the home-schooling programme which was supposed to be through radio and television broadcast lessons.
Museveni said it was a pity that some people interfered with radios for every homestead for students to continue with long distance learning. "I was busy campaigning, I didn't time to fight, it would have caused some little war. But God is there!"
Last year, parliament declined to approve Shs 336.8 billion that was requested to purchase 9 million radio sets. The MPs branded the plan as an unnecessary expenditure. It was also revealed that during an onsite visit of the purported radio assembly plant, the MPs found no radios with the authorities instead setting their sights on importing the radios.
Pre-primary learning quashed
In a related development Education minister Janet Museveni said learners in nursery and pre-primary school will not resume school until when the coronavirus pandemic is over.
Ms Museveni said learners in those classes can hardly adhere to the coronavirus standard operating procedures and might end up contracting the virus and spreading it to their parents. The coronavirus disease generally doesn't affect young children but they too can get infected and are also capable of spreading it to the much more vulnerable older persons.