Confusion as Education Ministry dismisses school reopening talks

The Ministry of Education and Sports on Saturday advised members of the public to disregard information in public domain that government recently okayed schools to reopen candidate classes, universities and other tertiary institutions for all final year students starting September 20.

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Following the closure of educational institutions in March over the Coronavirus several members of the public have been in anticipation over their reopening.

Last week, there were reports that schools, especially candidate classes are set to reopen for the second term that will end in mid-December for the third term to begin in January of February, whereas UNEB exams are to be written in March or April.

However, the Ministry of Education has dismissed the reports as being untrue and asked parents to disregard the same.

“A number of media houses and social media platforms have been putting out unauthentic information on the anticipated opening of schools causing anxiety for all stakeholders. The most recent one is where a school calendar for opening institutions was circulated on social media. This is to inform the public to disregard this information,” a statement issued by Mr Patrick Muinda, on behalf of the permanent secretary reads in part.

Mr Muinda said: “We further advise all parents and learners to ignore all information published in the media (print or electronic) that is not issued by an authorized signatory. The Ministry informs the public that at an appropriate time, information will be issued by either the Minister of Education and Sports or the Parmanent Secretary or any authorized person.”

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There has been confusion in the public on whether government has cleared only finalists undertaking medical courses as proposed by the national Covid-19 taskforce two weeks ago or all candidates in all schools, irrespective of their courses.

It should be noted that the Senior presidential adviser on epidemics, Dr Monica Musenero, On September 7 said that the meeting between the national Covid-19 taskforce and President Museveni on September 1, okayed the reopening of schools for all candidates –Primary Seven, Senior Four, Senior Six and finalist students in universities and other tertiary institutions.

Dr Musenero said all schools with candidate classes and finalists are free to reopen starting September 20, provided they have fulfilled the Covid-19 guidelines set for reopening of the education institutions.

“Schools are allowed to reopen for all candidate classes but on different dates. Schools that will meet the standard operating procedures that have been put in place by the government will be allowed to reopen,” Dr Musenero said.

Ms Janet Museveni, the Minister of Education, on September 2 wrote to the Minister of Finance to release capitation grants for Third Term to enable schools prepare for reopening of candidate classes.

“It has been brought to my attention that the capitation grants for Third Term 2020 were not released to the schools in July, due to the fact that the institutions were still closed,” Ms Museveni said in her letter.

“On account of the position taken in the above stated meeting, this is therefore to request you to cause the release of funds to the beneficiary schools to prepare for the phased reopening of schools,” the letter further reads.

Another September 1 letter from the National Council for Higher Education (NCHE) said institutions with finalists undertaking medical courses were cleared to reopen on September 28.

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“The government of the Republic of Uganda has addressed itself to the fact that medical health interns provide significant services in hospitals and other health facilities.

“It has been noted that the current interns will complete their programmes soon and a new team would ordinarily be expected to take over from them and if intern students are not allowed, there will be a gap,” the letter from NCHE executive director, Prof Mary Okwakol, noted.

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