During a virtual conference attended by a number of stakeholders, the ministry of education presented seven methods as proposals for the safe reopening of schools.
The solutions provided were unanimously approved by the stakeholders, which included school owners, education umbrella groups, and international school representatives.
One of the recommendations is to strengthen the Covid-19 monitoring system in schools, and the ministry wants the heads of educational institutions to be responsible for the implementation of all SOPs in the schools as well as Covid-19 administration.
The ministry wants communication and data collection regarding Covid-19 to be a crucial factor among schools, on top of the ministry of education and health providing help in terms of health workers, according to this plan.
Another suggestion is to review the school curriculum. Because of the limited time students will have in school, the current curriculum will be examined in order to extract the basic competencies, with the remainder of the topics being utilized as examples, according to the ministry.
Dr. Kedrace Turyagyenda, Director Education Standards Ministry of Education, who presented the ideas to the meeting, explained that teachers will need to be re-oriented in order to provide the bridged curriculum.
Alternative ideas included enhancing learning continuity, with the ministry stating that other interventions such as self-study materials and internet should also be prioritized.
The ministry states that they want to ensure that all learners have equal access to learning opportunities, and that they are looking for the appropriate measures for each category and degree of learners.
Learners who had very limited time in school due to the lockdown should be prioritized, according to the ministry, which includes primary one, two, three, and then senior one on the grounds that they had a new curriculum and senior two.
In order to manage the number in accordance with the SOPs, the ministry recommends that schools establish temporal structures or work multiple shifts, particularly in locations with a high population density.
However, Filbert Baguma, the general secretary of the Uganda National Teachers Union (UNATU), believes that if the SOPs are not amended, this strategy will be difficult to implement in high-population schools.
“We agree with the techniques and simply need to harmonize on a few of them,” Baguma says, referring to schools with large numbers of students.
Turyagyenda further stated that the government is considering adapting the school calendar to a gradual reopening so that the academic year 2020 is completed by June 2022.
The ministry’s other two recommendations include immunization of all instructors, support personnel, and pupils over the age of 18.
The ministry also intends to widen its stakeholders by bringing in other ministries to the team, including the ministries of ICT, Local Government, and the Office of the President, which houses the RDCs.
The Proprietors of Private Educational Institutions Association in Uganda- PPEIAU was represented by Mike Kironde, the proprietor of Janan Schools, who agreed with the strategies.
He did say, though, that District Education Officers should be given more power to help with the monitoring approach.
Meanwhile, both Ismael Mulindwa, the director of basic and secondary education at the Ministry of Education, and Dr. Turyagyenda, the director of primary and secondary education at the Ministry of Education, emphasized that the discussed strategies are still proposals that must be reviewed by the national task force before being submitted to the cabinet for review and approval for reopening.
They recommended schools to begin preparing, particularly with vaccinations, so that they would not be caught off guard when the schools were finally given the go-ahead to reopen.