Since the outbreak of Covid-19 in Uganda, the country’s schools have generally remained closed, locking 15 million students at home and putting parents in a difficult situation.
Joyce Moriku Kaducu, the Minister of State for Primary Education, told the journalists that a final meeting with the president will be held next week to determine new dates for school reopening’s.
Many parents are concerned about learning facilities remaining closed for an extended period of time. Will the kids be returning to school this year?
That is an extremely difficult question; can you even answer it? The answer should come from Covid-19. The answer is twofold. The first is immunization. When we vaccinate the critical mass that is required, number two, the Covid-19 scenario, you know that one of the principles will determine the reopening of schools. When schools were closed, many of the youngsters who returned home sickened their parents and grandparents. The goal now is to get these vulnerable people, such as the elderly and those with underlying medical conditions, vaccinated. However, we are optimistic that the immunization is quickly gaining on. We’re hoping that these essential individuals, such as our grandparents and elders, will be vaccinated so that at the very least, our children will be able to return to school.
The president had stated that schools would reopen once all instructors had been immunized. What is the length of the workout?
Our instructors are doing well in terms of vaccination; according to our statistics, we have touched two hundred thousand teachers out of a total of 560,000, indicating that the teachers are really responding to the immunization. There are two points to consider: It will offer us a ray of hope if we can get all of our teachers vaccinated, as this will limit infection transmission. If we can get many of our elderly folks, especially those aged 60 and up with underlying medical problems, vaccinated, it will also give us a ray of hope.
What are some of the additional effects of Covid-19 on the education sector, aside than school closures?
One thing I want to be clear about is that I believe health takes precedence over all else. We will always be able to study if we and our generation are alive, but if we allow people to perish like flies, we will not be able to learn at all. One key point I’d like to make, which you already know, is that our people’s health is really important; if they are healthy, the impacts of Covid-19 on schooling will be mitigated.
Do you believe the rise in teen pregnancies is linked to the lengthy school closures?
Let me tell you something: Covid-19 should not diminish our parental role, our primary responsibility as parents, the way we nurture and love our children. We should not shirk our responsibilities. How can you have no faith in your home as a parent?
You leave your front door open, inviting strangers to kidnap your daughter. You give your daughters complete freedom to go wherever they want, and you claim to be a parent while blaming the government. Is that reasonable?
I’d like to emphasize that the government has a role to play. People are pleading for schools to reopen; this demonstrates that schools are a safer environment, which is excellent, but we also need our homes to be safe.
I’m appealing to parents to take on the task of raising responsible citizens in this country.
During this difficult time, the government has been accused of ignoring teachers. Many people have even given up their jobs. Isn’t this going to result in a teacher shortage when schools reopen?
Teachers are not forgotten. We’ve been talking about and encouraging our instructors; we value and appreciate our teachers. Teachers are the backbone of our society; they are the cream of the crop. We can’t forget about our teachers. The only issue is that they have been severely harmed as a result of the Covid-19 crisis. I’d want to point out that we didn’t forget about our teachers. The teachers are fantastic. We’re not going to lose our professors since we haven’t crossed the river yet. Let us first cross the Nile, and then we will see what is there, but for now, those who claim that teachers will not return… That is rumor.
I’m a minister with a farm, therefore if I go to my farm, does that mean I shouldn’t return to work? I am a doctor, but I also have other responsibilities. Let us first cross the river to determine whether or not teachers have given up their profession. We’ll find out when we arrive.
Let’s talk about the teachers’ pay. The majority of them are complaining about not receiving the funds. What exactly happened, and how can you reassure them?
Sacco, the teachers…
The president handed them Shs20 billion, but we can’t just hand them money like that; we need to first construct a system that can support the teachers so that the money can be dispersed fairly, which is why the teachers had to organize an association from the ground up. We need to set up microfinance organizations to channel this money since money, simply put, is not accessible to everyone. It will only be accessible to a small number of people.
How is the government assisting students at home to complete their education while waiting for schools to reopen?
We’ve already sent both primary and secondary school books, and we’ll be sending out more resources in the coming weeks. These are materials for self-study. Then there’s the television, and then there’s the radio. We use e-learning to educate university students. I believe we have made an effort.
Urban schools have adopted online learning at the expense of people in rural communities who lack access to the internet or smartphones. Do you believe that when schools reopen, there will be fair competition?
The institution offers online learning, which is primarily for university students and has been approved by the National Council of Science and Technology. We won’t be able to roll out such a program without it; it’s a government-approved initiative.
When you were extremely ill, this happened from time to time. It was suggested that you had been poisoned. What went wrong?
When did that happen? But who are the people who say [I was poisoned]? I’ll have to go back to the database since I can’t tell you right now. Why are you inquiring about this? I believe that was in 2017/18, which is quite a few years ago, so I’ll have to verify the records and get back to you.