The Education Sector in Uganda has always moved on well albeit with some loopholes, for the past so many years, until recently when the much-dreaded Covid19 happened to this world, sending many people home, businesses closed and schools consequently seizing operation. At first, when the President closed schools, we thought that it would be for a short time and that learners would go back to school, thereafter. According to Statistics, Uganda has close to fifteen Million learners and over Two hundred thousand Teachers.
After the President’s Speech in mid-March 2020, Schools had to be closed and learners sent home. What followed was a suggestion to have pupils taught online, and through Radio, Television and Newspapers. This method was good because it would enable learners to study and avoid forgetting what they had previously learned at school. However, it suffered a stillbirth because many couldn’t afford the Two thousand Shillings to buy Newspapers daily which contained homework for the learners and many couldn’t buy daily Data bundles and monthly Television subscriptions to watch lessons. Therefore Parents had to make a choice between buying food and paying for online lessons, they chose the former and dropped the latter. That is how Studying from home hit a dead end.
Now that learners were at home and had no hope of returning to school soon, many of them started engaging in small businesses and doing petty jobs to earn money and some of them started engaging in Premarital sex which led to a surge in the number of teenage parents, with at least Two thousand School girls getting Pregnant in a single calendar year.
There was an increase in domestic violence, cases of Sexual abuse of girls by their own relatives also increased, coupled with Child labor. Many learners silently suffered anxiety, depression, and others developed a hatred for school to the extent that even when schools are opened, learners in thousands, if not tens of thousands will never return back to school. This is absurd.
When it came to the issue of teachers, it was the case of falling from the frying pan and directly into the fire, because they had for a very long time suffered low pay and miserable welfare at most of their schools and now that their workplaces were closed, they sure were headed for danger because they lost jobs, and so even the little pay that they used to earn was no longer available, not even a quarter of it. The government then offered to give them some money which they are still waiting for, two years down the road.
Consequently, many teachers painfully started engaging in jobs that were previously thought to be a reserve of uneducated people. As a result, some teachers were seen on television frying snacks and vending tomatoes by the roadside, Laying bricks, and riding bodaboda with some female teachers engaging in sex in exchange for money to stay afloat in the hard times of the lockdown. Whereas they earned money, many felt humiliated and ashamed. This, therefore, led to a mass exodus of teachers, running away from the noble job of teaching; after all teaching in Uganda is marred with very meager salaries, overworking, and a huge workload. Uganda, therefore, had to lose experienced teachers due to this.
After periods of struggle from parents, teachers, and the entire public, the Government opened schools but for only candidate students and those in their final year in University and higher institutions of learning. This was done in what the Government called a “Staggered Manner” where some students would study as others stayed home. This only helped those students in their final years because they studied and sat for their exams as the rest missed out.
In early 2021, schools opened for the rest of the learners but in less than 30 days, schools closed again because according to Government, Covid19 cases had increased. This was a big slap in the faces of parents who had just paid school fees and learners that had started picking up. Another disorganization in the country.
Fast forward, I believe that schools shouldn’t have been closed for the second time, Learners should have been left at school and immunized from there together with their teachers, that is if immunization of learners and teachers is the Prerequisite to the opening of schools.
Ministry of Education should avoid adding mistakes to the already so many mistakes they made in managing schools during this period and so they should swallow humble pie and declare that students all over the country be Automatically promoted to the next class once schools are open. This has problems, but at least learners will feel relieved and avoid staying in the same class for two years.
Finally, schools should open as soon as Yesterday, so that learners go back and study after all among the Two thousand Covid19 related deaths, very few of them are students. I beg to move. God bless.