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Education authorities want gov’t to partially reopen schools citing reduced Covid-19 cases

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Education authorities in Serere district have asked the government to partially reopen schools starting with areas that do not have confirmed COVID-19 cases.

The proposal follows an assessment of the recent interventions by the government to help children learn at home.

The government has been sending study materials to learners at home to help children revise during the lockdown. The study materials were accompanied by parent’s guide but little has been achieved as most learners have not received the materials.

Even the radio programs have not yielded any results in the district, according to Michael Erebu, the District Education Officer in Serere. He explains that less than 10 percent of the learners across the district is trying to read or pay attention to the learning programs on the national broadcaster- Uganda Broadcasting Corporation, UBC.

Erebu notes that the study material distributed were inadequate adding that more than ten villages never received any copy of study materials while others shared copies. He observed that study materials are only helpful for children in upper primary and secondary since they know how to read and comprehend.

He notes that children can only learn at school with others since the majority of parents in Serere are illiterate and unable to help children during the lockdown.

Wilfred Echau, the Centre Coordinating Tutor in Serere asked the government to engage district education officials on how best to teach children during the lockdown. He argues that reopening schools with strict adherence to standard operating procedures from the Ministry of Health can save the situation since they are distant from COVID-19 hotspots.

He observes that while children in remote districts like Serere aren’t able to learn during the lockdown, other children in urban areas are busy learning on laptops, smartphones, and private teachers since their parents are able.

Stephen Otino a P.3 pupil at Fr. Omoding Memorial School is among the few children who received study materials in Kabulabula Trading Center, Kadungulu Sub County. He says that he attempted only two questions in mathematics while other subjects are intact for the last three weeks since he received the study material.

Otinu’s mother, Christine Tino says that she doesn’t know whether her son has learnt anything from the study materials since she is equally illiterate.

“I have requested my neighbor who is a teacher to be helping my children during this lockdown but he is also committed to his family responsibilities. At home, none of us can read or write and we cannot help our children. The government should just open schools”, she said.

Stella Asio, a mother of six in Ogoloi, Bugondo Sub County says she has not seen any study material for children. She wonders why the government didn’t consult local leaders to come up with better learning options on a case by case basis.

Schools have been closed since March when the government announced several measures to curb the spread of COVID-19.

Last week, President Museveni in his addresses to the nation said that schools and religious institutions should remain closed on the ground that they may cause a surge in the number of COVID-19 cases.

Additional reporting by the Independent 

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