COVID19 | 2020
By Eliphaz Ssekabira
I carefully listened to and have read the 16th presidential address on the measures instituted to deal with the infectious and deadly COVID-19.
One particular area of interest is the date for the reopening of educational institutions for the learners who were sent home through the fi rst nationally broadcast presidential address on March 18.
The President directed that all education institutions countrywide be closed within two days for a period of 30 days.
President Yoweri Museveni said this was done in the best interest of the 15 million learners' safety who were at the time in highrisk concentration centres.
The President has consistently said that his bazzukulu (grandchildren) are now much safer in their respective homes, an indication that reopening of educational institutions is far from near.
Parents and other stakeholders are in a panicky mood. Learners are a being bombarded with study materials from all sorts of sources like newspapers, televisions, radios, social media and coaching.
It seems there is no harmonised framework to guide the process of continuity of learning thus leaving our children in a state of confusion.
Besides, the impact of this form of self-study cannot be measured now given the fact that we are not sure that all learners get the study materials due to the power problems and poor internet connectivity.
We are almost midway into what should have been second term — meaning even if schools are reopened tomorrow it would be diffi cult to hurriedly register candidates with Uganda National Examinations Board (UNEB) and to complete the syllabi. Some stakeholders have been pushing for the reopening of schools for candidate classes and fi nalists in institutions of higher learning.
This will create a danger of overfl ow in the entry classes (S1, S5 and year one in institutions) if the current occupants are not promoted to the next level.
Already, all public universities have admitted students under the merit system but these can't report for the fi rst semester (in August) unless fi rst year students are moved to year two.
Reopening of schools requires the mass testing all the 15 million learners, their instructors and support staff. With the unit cost of each test at $65 the question is who will meet the huge budget of the tests?
In the circumstances, let us not procrastinate. Government should declare 2020 a dead academic year and concentrate on plans to reopen the education calendar in February 2021.
The writer is a media manager.