“This is not time for convenience; it is not time for examinations; it is not time for business,” said the President, while addressing the nation about the government’s progress on Corona Virus, recently. In fact, the President cemented his assertion by referring us to the 1981-86, NRM/A guerrilla war.
Specifically, he reminded us of how the NRA cut off some parts of Buganda and the entire part of western Uganda, from Katonga in September 1985, which saw students in the adversely affected areas miss out on their examinations. “This is not a time to think about education; …. This is a war that we have to fight, … we can think of education later,” echoed the President.
Surely, should we assume that the officials in the Education Ministry and all those other heads of education-related agencies and institutions, didn’t listen to the President’s speech that day? If so, could they have missed out on the news bulletins on the various media platforms? How about the newspapers? We are all informed that in a bid to counter the spread of Corona Virus, education institutions were closed, effect March 20, 2020, and as a result, all students were sent home.
The status quo was maintained by the President in his last address to the nation, about the same. However, one wonders why Makerere University and many other universities, are subjecting parents, guardians, and students, in particular, to unneccesary pressure, by fixing tight deadlines for applications for those willing to pursue their studies with them, this academic year (2020/2021). According to the Makerere University Public Relations Officer (PRO), Dr. Muhammad Kigundu, the University is set to call off the application exercise on May 16, 2020.
Dr. Kigundu has advised all potential applicants to submit their applications online, through the University website. To achieve this, one must have all his/her academic credentials scanned, must have access to electronic gadgets needed in performing this function, and must all be ready to part off with a sum of Ugx. 52,500/- as application fees. According to the university, how possible can every potential applicant meet the required application requirements, in this lockdown period? With schools and colleges closed, according to the university, where should a student who had not yet picked their result slips/transcripts from their respective schools and colleges by March 20, 2020, do, in this situation?
While a parent/guardian with a Makerere University hopeful, is still in a state of disarray, UNEB also comes up with its registration program for primary (PLE) and secondary (UCE /UACE) examinations for this academic year. Honestly speaking, according to UNEB, how realistic is this decision, at such a time? Does UNEB want to convince us that by the time the President directed schools to close operations, every P.7, S.4, and S.6 had met all the registration requirements? At a time where a typical parent/guardian is strictly focusing at food, and perhaps unavoidable medication, surely, do we still expect him/her to start worrying about UNEB registration fees? Do we want to see people dying of stress, even before the lockdown ends? Are we after seeing some of our colleagues join Butabika hospital, due to psychiatric/stress-related issues? A P.7 candidate is expected to pay Ugx. 34,000/-, S.4 Ugx. 164,000/-, and S.6 Ugx. 186,000/-, implying that if a parent has a child at each examination level, they must part off with Ugx. 384,000/-, in registration.
According to UNEB, how many parents/guardians in this lockdown period have this money set aside for registration? Needless to emphasize the fact that the same jobless parent/guardian, has been compelled to take care of his/her children for a period of six weeks that were unbudgeted for. According to the Education Ministry, has the issue of countering the spreading of Corona Virus now turned out to be frivolous, that parents/guardians should now place emphasis on the education of their children, since education appears to be taking centre stage? Why can’t we wait for May 5, 2020, and see whether the President is lifting the restriction on education and the economy at large, and then draft our plans accordingly? Supposing the lockdown is extended for another 21 days or so, what will Makerere University, UNEB, and all their accomplices do?
Why can’t let parents, guardians, and students focus at those ABSOLUTELY unavoidable things in this situation, other stressing them with things that can be postponed to a future date? At this point in time, the focus everyone should be on countering the spreading of Corona Virus, things like education will definitely take their rightful position, at the end of the lockdown, lest we are interested in seeing people dying of stress.
Jonathan Kivumbi, Educationist. 0770880185