Several private schools are worried about the increasing departure of foreign students because of the prolonged closure of schools resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Unlike in Uganda where schools are still closed because of the second wave of COVID-19, schools in Kenya, Tanzania, South Sudan and Rwanda have resumed normal lessons.
This has encouraged some foreign students to return to their home countries to continue with their studies. Moses Onyango, the head teacher of Zana mixed Secondary School, says they have lost 50 foreign students since the 2020 lockdown.
He says that 42 of the 50 students left the school during the second lockdown. Onyango says the departure of the students is a big loss.
He reveals that they had 30 international students in each class on average. Onyango, is, however, worried that they may lose more students if the government doesn’t reopen schools very soon.
Lawrence Ssemujju, the deputy head teacher of City Hill secondary school also says that they have so far lost five students from South Sudan.
He notes that the resumption of studies in the neighbouring countries is making it hard for foreign students to continue waiting for the reopening in Uganda despite the fact that they cherish Ugandan education.
‘’It is reasonable for the students from the Republic of South Sudan, because they start studies when they are mature,” he said.
Patrick Nyonyintono, the Director of Kann High school, says that although he has not had a huge population of foreign learners, losing out on the few he has is regrettable. He explains that 11 of the 42 students at the school from South Sudan have communicated their decision to enrol back at home.
Mamuch Deng Nyang, the leader of international students at Makerere University confirms the development saying that many foreign students are on the verge of leaving Uganda to continue with their education elsewhere.
‘’When it comes to higher institutions of learning, the situation is still fine but for the lower levels of learning, things are different. Students have run out of patience hence going back home to continue with their studies,” Mamuch said.
However, Education Consultant, Fagil Mande discourages schools from getting worried about departing foreign students. He encourages schools to concentrate on offering quality education especially when it comes to skills, noting that this will force the students to return.
Foreign students are one of the key sources of income for Ugandan students. Private schools cherish them because their parents usually pay upfront and don’t negotiate for fees reductions like their Uganda counterparts.