published Jan. 11, 2022, 2:27 p.m. by mariamagboola
Uganda opens schools after two years due to covid
Uganda, an East African country has reopened its schools nearly two years after closure; thus ending the world’s longest school closure.
Some 15 million pupils have not attended school in Uganda since March 2020 when classrooms were shuttered as COVID-19 swept the world.
During the pandemic, many school-aged boys entered the child labour market to work in mining, street vending and sugarcane plantations while many girls would have become pregnant or gone into early marriages.
According to the National Planning Authority (NPA), up to 30 percent of students are expected to not return to their school desks due to teen pregnancy, early marriage and child labour.
It is feared that other students who might have returned may never catch up on the school work they have missed.
Education Minister John Muyingo said all students would automatically resume classes a year above where they left off.
“All schools have implemented guidelines and standard operating procedures to ensure the safe return of children to schools, and measures have been put in place to ensure those who don’t comply do so,” he told the AFP news agency.
Muyingo reiterated that any private schools demanding fees above pre-pandemic rates would be sanctioned.
Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni lifted the bulk of COVID-19-related restrictions in the country in September last year, but he left schools shuttered.
He announced in October last year that schools would reopen early next year regardless of the vaccination uptake, which is currently low.
The rush to return children to school led to heavy traffic in the capital Kampala on Monday.
Child rights groups had criticized Uganda’s decision to keep schools fully or partially shuttered for 83 weeks, longer than anywhere else in the world.
With their careers on hold, many teachers have also switched to other jobs to help provide for their families.
Several institutions have converted to hotels or restaurants.