By Rachel Pfeiffer — As it has all over the world, COVID-19 continues to affect Uganda and AMG nursing school owned by their International’s ministry within the country.
AMG’s Bill Passons explains how the pandemic is impacting the country at large.
“The main thing that’s having the biggest effect I think, like most places, is the lockdowns that have been put in place to try to limit the spread of the virus,” he says. “With all of the schools being total lockdown, they’ve been out for almost four months now, and the churches not being allowed to meet is having a pretty bad effect. A lot of businesses are either totally out of business or operating very scaled-down nature, so it is kind of a desperate situation.”
Passons also says that lockdown affects people differently depending on where they live.
“Those that are in a very rural context actually are a little bit better off when it comes to basic daily needs,” he explains. “They tend to live in areas where they do farming and other things versus the kids that live in the city slums that really don’t have access or the ability to grow their own food. [In the city] they’re put in a more desperate situation from a basic needs standpoint.”
However, when it comes to keeping up with education during these trying, unprecedented times, Passons says the situation is reversed.
“Some schools and churches are trying to use social media and media, in general, to get lessons out. That works well in more densely populated areas that have access to the internet and those resources,” he says. “[However], around 70% of Ugandans live in a rural context. Those students including AMG nursing school studentsand those people don’t have access to the same internet [and] technology, so they’re really limited on their ability to study from home.”
AMG Nursing School Delays
The students from AMG nursing school have been affected by these lockdowns as well.
“Our AMG nursing school was shut down when the other schools in the country were shut down, so we have not had students meeting. It’s kind of a sad scenario for us because our first group would have been graduating around this time,” Passons says. “We also had a large [group of incoming] students that were going to push our totals up to around 200 students, which would be a new high for us.”
The students whose graduation was delayed by the pandemic should graduate next semester. In the meantime, Passons says the AMG nursing school is working with them to retain what they’ve learned.
“We’ve been trying to stay engaged with the students by giving them assignments [and] having them complete them at home and bring them back,” he says. “It’s a maintenance scenario. They’re not really advancing their education like they were when they were studying in the classroom.”
In addition to delaying the students’ studies, the pandemic will, in all likelihood, push back the nursing schools’ ability to be finically independent.
“This is the third year of [the nursing schools’] existence, and this was the year that we were supposed to move from being supported on a regular basis toward being self-sustaining. The self-sustaining piece has probably been delayed by a year,” Passons says.
Since most of AMG’s programs have an element of sustainability, Passons explains that hardships in Uganda are affecting local revenue the programs typically produce.