Schools seek guidance on reopening next month

By Brenda Nakayiwa

As part of the implementation of SOPs, both private and public education institutions will be required to procure sanitisers, hand-washing equipment and temperature guns.

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A section of government-aided schools have asked the education ministry to clarify on how capitation grants will be used to procure equipment as part of Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs).

As part of the implementation of SOPs, both private and public education institutions will be required to procure sanitisers, hand-washing equipment and temperature guns.

However, heads of academic institutions who spoke on anonymity grounds, said it will be criminal to divert capitation grants to procure the needed equipment for COVID-19.

"The capitation grant from the government is defined for every institution. It informs you how much you spend and on what item. It will be illegal for us to go against what the Government has already set by procuring temperature guns," the source said.

Another head of primary school, who also asked to be protected, said: "Capitation grants will lead school management into trouble. Most of us will be arrested for diverting funds."

It is based on this narrative that the school heads are asking the government for proper guidelines on how capitation grants will be used to prepare for the re-opening.

In her media statement on the planned re-opening of schools, Mrs. Janet Museveni, the First Lady and Minister of Education and Sports, revealed that her ministry is working with the finance ministry to ensure that government grant-aided schools get the relevant capitation grants to acquire basic facilities to implement the SOPs.

In addition, Mrs Museveni said the Directorate of Education Standards (DES), under the education ministry, will work with local governments to inspect education institutions for readiness to implement the Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs).

Extention of school  

Regarding the extension of the calendar year to cover terms II and III, schools and technical colleges have backed the move by the ministry.

Tony Mpagi Ssewanyana, the national chairperson of History Teachers Association of Uganda, said the extension will prepare candidates and finalists for the end of career examinations for the different levels.

"Schools were closed in the middle of the first term. Much as they had covered a lot, they needed to complete the syllabuses to write the exams," he said.

Gilvazio Bafaki, the principal of Nyamitanga Technical Institute in Mbarara, said skipping of key topics for finalists would have led to the graduating of half-baked technicians.

"We closed when our certificate students had studied just term one of their final year. There are lots of hands-on training they were required to cover before the final exams. With the extension, we will cover all the areas and produce ready technicians for the market," he said.

Waiting for guidelines 

Several academic institutions are waiting for final guidelines from the education ministry on what is needed to reopen.

Silver Mukwasibwe, the principal of Uganda Technical College Kichwamba, in Kabarole district, said the guidelines will determine their expenditure.

"We are waiting for the guidelines," he said.

In an interview with New Vision, Hasadu Kirabira, the officer in charge of research at the Uganda National Association of Private Schools and Institutions, said they are ready to re-open, but several private institutions need financial support.

 "We are happy that government has pledged support and we are expecting to meet the finance ministry this week," he said.

 Pupils of Nakivubo Blue Primary attending a lesson in February. After the closure of  schools in March as way to curb the spread of COVID-19, schools re-open next month