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Bridge Schools re-open amid uncertainty, controversy

By Denis Nsubuga

Added 28th September 2016 08:34 AM

The High Court in Kampala issued a temporary injunction blocking government from closing the schools

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Pupils queue up for lunch at the Nsumbi Campus. Photo by Denis Nsubuga

The High Court in Kampala issued a temporary injunction blocking government from closing the schools

On a rainy Monday afternoon, Bridge International Academy (BIA) in Nsumbi in Wakiso district is abuzz with activity. A number of children, dressed in their light green school uniforms, playfully gait about the school compound. 

Time check: 1:02pm, some children have started to run out for lunch. Going by a normal school setting, business is normal like it would be at any other school that kicked off third term on Monday, as per ministry guidelines. 

But, a few days ago, their re-opening was uncertain; till court over ruled the education ministry, to have the schools temporarily re-opened until their case filed by the school over unfair closure is heard.   

Daniel Opio, a manager at Bridge International Schools said that this branch, in Ganda Wakiso district and its chain of 63 other campuses countrywide, started off their their term like any other school. 

However, although studies are going on smoothly; these pupils are probably oblivious of the uncertainty surrounding their third term learning. 

The ministry of education directed the schools to be closed because of poor hygiene, operating without a license, unapproved teaching curriculum and employing of unqualified teachers. 

In a letter dated April 6, the permanent secretary, Rose Nassali Lukwago ordered the owners of the school to halt the expansion of the school with immediate effect. On August 10, the school owners petitioned court, challenging the closure. 

Subsequently, the High Court in Kampala issued a temporary injunction to block government from closing all Bridge International Academies, a move that had put the future of more than 12,000 students in jeopardy. 

On September 22, Justice Patricia Basaza of High Court in Kampala also extended the interim order preventing the ministry from closing the school campuses running until October 3, when she will start hearing the case filed by Bridge. 

"We are optimistic that the case will be heard to its logical conclusion and that over 12,000 children will stay in school," Opio said in interview on Monday. 

Fatuma Nakito, a parent, said they were disappointed to hear the school was at a brink of closure.  "It offers the children good education at an affordable fee. We are planning to air our views as parents, and we pray the government reconsiders," she said. 

In Uganda, Bridge International schools commenced operations last year, with seven primary schools in the Eastern Uganda. Today, its branches are spread in every region of the country.

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