Last week, the Ministry of Health presented to Parliament a budget of sh5.7b to procure face masks for all students
The distribution of face masks to candidates and finalists kicked off Wednesday, the education ministry revealed.
This was confirmed in a circular signed by the education ministry permanent secretary, Alex Kakooza, to vice-chancellors of universities and heads of other tertiary institutions.
The circular was also addressed to the executive director of Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA), chief administrative officers (CAOs) and town clerks.
In his circular, dated October 13,2020, which New Vision has obtained, Kakooza has asked the different leaders to collect the masks.
"The purpose of this communication, therefore, is to inform and request you to come and pick your respective consignments from the health ministry headquarters," the circular reads.
However, Kakooza noted that the different heads addressed above, are required to get clearance from the director for basic and secondary education in the ministry.
He said the distribution exercise will be monitored jointly by both education and health ministries.
Kakooza said the distribution of face masks to candidates and finalists, is part of President Yoweri Museveni's directives on reopening schools.
"The President tasked the health ministry with providing two nonmedical face masks per pupil, student in candidate classes and finalists in tertiary institutions," he said.
During the presidential address, Museveni said that candidate classes and finalists in tertiary colleges and universities are 1.2 million learners.
Going by these figures, it implies that an estimated 2.4 million masks will be distributed by the Government.
In an interview with New Vision on Tuesday, Haji Ismail Mulindwa, who is the director basic and secondary education, said: "We have received the face masks. The schools will get them through the different district local governments," he said.
No special budget for masks
According to a senior official in the finance ministry, who preferred anonymity, the Government will not avail special funds to procure face masks for candidates and finalists.
Instead, the source said, the health ministry should utilise what was earlier allocated to them to distribute masks to all Ugandans.
Last week, the Ministry of Health presented to Parliament a budget of sh5.7b to procure face masks for all students planning to return to school.
During the committee meeting, health ministry permanent secretary Diana Atwine said the money for students' facemasks is part of the additional sh50b that is needed to support the ministry's efforts to control the spread of COVID-19.
She was asked why a number of districts had not yet received masks yet Parliament approved all the required sh89.3b to purchase masks.
She said out of sh89b Parliament approved, the ministry received sh70b, of which sh33b was for masks, tests kits, salaries for workers, allowances, transport for patients and renovation of Namboole Stadium, among others.
Atwine said out of the 135 districts, the ministry had been able to supply face masks to 71 districts.