Private primary and secondary schools are stealthy sneaking in non-authorised learners for the second phase of schools re-opening. The government opted for staggered reopening of schools to allow for the required physical distancing of the learners and teachers in a bid to prevent further spread of coronavirus (COVID-19).
The first phase of re-opening under this arrangement only targeted semi candidates (P.6, S3, and S.5). However, some schools have decided to use the opportunity to sneak in learners from other classes.
Officially, the schools deny admitting non authorised learners but some of them confirmed the development on the condition of anonymity. One of the headteachers who admitted that they had started teaching learners, whose classes are not yet allowed to reopen, argued that parents are the ones pushing for it.
“Parents are tired of having these children at home and so they bring them and plead with us to find them teachers. Given the fact that our schools are currently financially constrained we can’t just turn away these learners yet we have space to accommodate them,” the headteacher said.
While at one of the schools, our reporter was also able to interact with a primary five pupil who said that he had reported on Monday. At the same school, there were other learners seemingly looking younger than semi-candidates. However, the school administrators claimed that some of the young learners had accompanied their parents returning semi-candidates.
A parent, who preferred to remain anonymous but has taken her P.4 son to school, says they made the decision because the cost of having their child at home was higher than the risks they are likely to face at school. The parent refused to reveal the details of the school located in Luwero.
A parent at a Mukono-based school owned by a minister said their school has "normal admissions for all students". It a similar case at a school located in Lubiri in Mengo where nearly all students have reported for classes. Samuel Birungi, the headteacher at Homesidallen primary school in Kyebando, revealed that many parents have approached them persuading them to accept learner below primary six.
He, however, says that although the school would like to get the money being offered by the parent, they have been bouncing them back. Birungi says that those who insist have been advised to collect self-study materials developed by some of the teachers for use by their children at home.
Patrick Nnyonyintono, the director of Kann High school in Zana says schools are wasting their time to sneak in learners because the education system has changed to match the new revised time table. He says even if learners are allowed to resume learning, they will have to wait for their counterparts to catch-up.
Lawrence Ssemujju, the deputy headteacher at City High Wakiso says schools have decided to open for other classes because schools need finances to run efficiently. He says the money that would be generated from the four classes that have been given the green light to resume learning is not enough.
The revised Education ministry school calendar indicates that learners in P.4 and 5 are supposed to resume studies on April 6 and study for eight weeks after which they will break off on June 4. Those in primary 1-3 are supposed to report in June and break off on July 24.
While learners in S.1 are supposed to report on April 12 study for 14 weeks and close on July 3rd. Their counterparts in S.2 will then report on May 31st, study for 10 weeks and break off on July 24th.