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Reopening: Candidates in refugee schools to study in shifts

By Martin Kitubi

Added 18th October 2020 07:58 AM

As of September 2019, Uganda was hosting an estimated 1.33 million refugees, many being children and women, from South Sudan, DR Congo, Burundi, Rwanda, Eritrea and Somalia.

Reopening: Candidates in refugee schools to study in shifts

The education ministry said the move is a temporary measure as the Government finds a solution to address the challenge of overcrowding. (FILES)

As of September 2019, Uganda was hosting an estimated 1.33 million refugees, many being children and women, from South Sudan, DR Congo, Burundi, Rwanda, Eritrea and Somalia.

Candidates in refugee schools have been allowed to study in shifts to avoid overcrowding.

The education ministry said the move is a temporary measure as the Government finds a solution to address the challenge of overcrowding.

Alex Kakooza, the education ministry's permanent secretary, confirmed that refugee schools have been allowed to split candidates into groups to ease studying in shifts.

"We are aware of the challenge, but the Government is working out measures to address it. At the moment, one group will study from 8:00am to mid-morning before another shift starts," he said.

Bujubiri Secondary School is the only secondary school in Kyaka II Refugee Settlement in Kyegegwa district. With just one permanent block and another temporary one, each with three classrooms, the school has a population of 1,085 students.

The school has 173 candidates and 30 others in Senior Four and Senior Six respectively. The ministry guidelines for reopening of schools require each classroom to have 15 students at most. Going by this standard, Bujubiri Secondary School will need an additional eight classrooms to cater for all the candidate classes.

"The school serves both refugees and host communities. We don't have capacity to keep social distancing," Esau Ddungu, the headteacher, said.

The school has just one-two stance latrine, shared by staff and students.

It implies that each latrine stance is used by over 100 people (1:100). This is way high compared to the education ministry average latrine stance ratio of 1:40. Bujubiri is not alone.

The situation is similar in most refugee-hosting local governments. Uganda hosts the largest number of refugees on the continent and is ranked among the countries that host most refugees globally.

As of September 2019, Uganda was hosting an estimated 1.33 million refugees, many being children and women, from South Sudan, DR Congo, Burundi, Rwanda, Eritrea and Somalia.

However, Kakooza added that the schools can also utilise any other available space such as trees, compound and libraries for those that have. In addition, the education ministry's permanent secretary said the ministry is working with stakeholders under the Education Response Plan for Refugees and Host Communities in Uganda to provide more facilities at schools in refugee host communities.

Under the Uganda Secondary School Education Expansion Project, Kakooza said the Government will build 61 secondary schools in refugee-hosting local governments. "We secured $150m (about sh554.4b) from the World Bank and are in the process of procuring contractors," he said.

Of the fund, he said, $90m (about sh332b) is a loan and $60m (about sh221b) grant. Under the project, Kakooza said, the Government will construct new secondary schools in 116 sub-counties, which don't have any.

Through the project, Kakooza said, about 2.5 million children will have access and complete secondary education.

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