Uganda’s development partners have called on Government to reopen schools that were closed in March in an effort to contain the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The shutdown sent home 15 million learners although Museveni would later allow the reopening of education institutions for only final year students.
Speaking at the second and closing day of the 27th annual Education and Sports Sector Review in Kampala on Thursday, the Belgian Deputy Ambassador to Uganda Koen Van Acoleyen who represented development partners including African Development Bank, Enabel, European Union, Giz, Ireland Japan, Korea, Norway, Sweden, United Nations Capital Development Fund (UNCDF), UNESCO, UNFPA, UNHCR, UNICEF, USAID and the World Bank called on the Government to consider reopening of education institutions for non finalists that have been home for 9 months.
“I would like to recognise the excellent relationship that we have as development partners both internally and with the Ministry of Education and Sports. It’s a great privilege to work with such a dedicated group of people and agencies that are always ready to go the extra mile in the interest of young Ugandans,” he said.
According to UNESCO, 1.8 billion learners suffered long lasting closure of schools in more than 165 countries, not to mention the teachers, the school staff and the parents.
“In Uganda, the closures linked to COVID-19 created dramatic consequences for 15 million learners. In other words, 1/3 of all Ugandans. And these consequences may not all be visible today but are going to be devastating in the long run if we don’t put all our efforts towards the children of this country,” said Acoleyen.
“Solutions need to be found together in partnership with the Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Health, Gender, local authorities, Public Service among others. It is important to anticipate the reopening of schools. The SOPs are in place and the experience of past months will fully help. The learning deficit incurred needs to be addressed adequately,” he added.
Acoleyen also advised Government to consider increasing funding in the education sector, enforce gender mainstreaming to ensure all girls access school among others.
The Minister of State for Sports Hamson Obua in response reiterated government’s commitment to ensure continuity of learning amidst COVID-19 pandemic.
“The Ministry of Education and Sports commits to ensure that there is continuity of learning amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. Government of Uganda will continue working with the development partners to achieve learning outcomes. We will expedite and finalise pending policies and legal frameworks to enhance effectiveness of education and sports service delivery,” Obua said.
He added that the Education Ministry will continue working together with the Local Governments for the delivery of education and sports services