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SCHOOL REOPENING: Primary, Secondary Teachers Ordered to Report Two Weeks before Reopening Date; See 40 More Guidelines

Education and Sports Minister Janet Kataaha Museveni has directed head teachers of primary and secondary schools to ensure that teachers report a fortnight before the official reopening date.

According to a recently released school calendar for 2022, education institutions are expected to reopen on January 10.

In her recent brief to Parliament on the state of preparedness for school reopening, education minister Ms Museveni detailed just over 40 guidelines and interventions ahead of reopening.

Among these is an appeal to teachers to report earlier.

“We are urging all Head teachers to request the teachers to report back to school, at least two weeks prior to the reporting date of learners,” said Ms Museveni in her statement to Parliament.

“This is to allow the teachers to have ample time to; receive the learners back to school, prepare schemes of work, and enforce.”

Verbatim: Minister Janet Museveni Briefs Parliament on School Reopening Guidelines

1. On the establishment of the COVID19 School Based Surveillance program, we are working with the Ministry of Health to implement a program for training Local Government officials, managers of Education Institutions, as well as members of the Education Institutions COVID19 taskforces to enable them acknowledge the importance of this initiative. Additionally, a Training of the Trainers’ (ToTs) programme has been undertaken by the two (2) Ministries, targeting 40 national facilitators that include the following:

a) District Education Officers (DEOs)

b) District Inspectors of Schools (DISs)

c) District Health Officers (DHOs)

d) District Community Development Officers (CDOs)

e) District Biostatisticians

2. In addition, we have disseminated the COVID19 school based surveillance plan to school foundation bodies and proprietors of Private Education Institutions, including the representatives of the following constituencies:

a) The Province of the Church of Uganda

b) The Roman Catholic Church

c) The Orthodox Church of Uganda

d) The Seventh Day Adventists Church

e) National Fellowship of Born-again Pentecostal Churches

f) Uganda Muslim Supreme Council

g) Uganda Muslim Education Association

h) Uganda Joint Christian Council

i) Inter-religious Council of Uganda

j) Federation of Non-state Education Institutions

k) Proprietors of Private Education Institutions Association – Uganda

l) National Private Educational Institutions Association – Uganda

m) Promoting Equality in African Schools (PEAS) Uganda

n) Federation of Education NGOs in Uganda

3. In addition to the above, we have also come up with measures to ensure adequate preparations by Education Institutions to re-open sustainably, and these include the following:

The Role of the Head of Institution in Enforcing COVID19 SOPs:

4. The Ministry of Education and Sports, has earmarked the Head of the Education Institution of learning: This could be the Head teacher, Principal, or Vice Chancellor – as the official who shall be held accountable for enforcing all COVID19 SOPs in the Institution.

5. Currently, the first measure that Heads of Institutions must enforce is the immunization of all staff against COVID19. Those who are not vaccinated must not be allowed to access any school premises.

6. In regard to those employed by Government in Government Institutions of Learning, there will be no compromise on the issue of vaccination; as our efforts are deliberate and the policy is very clear that all must be vaccinated to access school premises.

7. The emergence of the new COVID19 variant calls for us not to be complacent about safety measures which include vaccination. It is important for all to listen to the scientists, and take responsibility to protect each other.

The Responsibility of Parents and Guardians:

8. Much as there is a role that the Education Institutions must play in the safe re-opening of schools, they cannot do it alone.

9. We are therefore, reminding parents that, to play the most important role in the safe re-opening of schools, they should be cognizant that:

a) Firstly, it is within their mandate to be the first counsellor to their children as they prepare to go back to school in January 2022.

b) Secondly, parents or guardians are expected to provide adequate supply of facemasks to their children. It is acceptable to secure re-usable masks; however, disposable masks can be used by those that have the resources to secure them.

c) Thirdly, the Ministry is aware and has received reports about some of the young school-going girls that have become pregnant. We have provided guidelines to ensure that they return to school, as and when they deem fit. But the responsibility is with the parent to encourage their daughter (s) to continue with their education.

COVID19 Vaccination:

10. With the guidance of His Excellency the President, the Ministry of Health scaled up the drive for the COVID19 vaccination. The priority groups for vaccination included health workers, security personnel, teachers, learners aged 18 years and above, the elderly, and persons with pre-existing medical conditions among others.

11. With the support of various stakeholders, we have managed to mobilize our teaching staff, non-teaching staff, and learners who are aged 18 years and above in tertiary institutions to go for vaccination.

12. Thus far, at least 70 percent of about 550,000 teaching staff have received at least one COVID19 jab, whereas more than 28 percent are fully vaccinated.

13. Now that the country has obtained sufficient stocks of the COVID19 vaccines, and designated more locations to carry out vaccination; we continue to urge all staff and learners aged 18 years and above in our Education Institutions to get vaccinated.

14. As previously communicated by His Excellency the President, and emphasized by the Ministry of Health, all staff that are not vaccinated should not be allowed to access premises of Education Institutions.

Preparation of Teachers:

15. We have so far trained 2,310 teachers as Master Trainers on strategies for recovery of lost-learning time, and psycho-social support to learners and teachers upon return to School. This training is for all teachers in Private and Public Schools.

16. We are urging all Head teachers, to request the teachers to report back to school, at least two weeks prior to the reporting date of learners. This is to allow the teachers to have ample time to; receive the learners back to school, prepare schemes of work, and enforce

SOPs.

17. By 1st February 2021, we request that each Local Government; through its respective Accounting Officer submits to the Ministry of Education and Sports, a report on the attendance to duty by teachers vis-à-vis the expected number in each school (both Public and Private).

Support to Public Schools in Preparation for the Re-Opening:

18. Government has made various provisions and interventions as a way of preparing Education Institutions for re-opening. In circumstances where Government has not been able to do so, we have engaged other players and stakeholders to offer support.

19. For Public or Government-aided Education Institutions, we continued to pay salaries for staff during the period of closure of schools. However, this has not been the same for teachers in Private Education Institutions.

20. Since the start of this Financial Year (FY 2021/22), Government has disbursed over UGX. 170 billion to Education Institutions at all levels: Primary, Secondary, Tertiary, and Special Needs Education Institutions. These funds are also available to public schools to purchase basic amenities for observance of SOPs.

21. For Government-aided Primary and Secondary Schools, at least UGX 62.619 billion of the capitation grant has been earmarked for the refurbishment of schools; for example, through minor repairs. We intend to refurbish at least 12,066 primary schools and 1,226 secondary schools. This will be undertaken in collaboration with the Ministry of Local Government and the respective District Local Governments.

22. It is also true, that there are some schools that may not be in position to receive a full facelift because they require extensive works to be restored to acceptable physical standards. We have therefore, planned with the Ministry of Local Government to accommodate and prioritize the rehabilitation of these schools under the School Facilities Grant for Financial Year 2022/2023.

23. It is my prayer, that once the exercise of refurbishing the schools has commenced, all leaders and our partners in the media come on board to provide oversight of the works to ensure value for money.

24. We are counting on the support of all Members of Parliament to be our eyes and ears, because every Primary and Secondary School falls within a given Constituency.

25. The Ministry is aware that 51 Schools were devastated by natural disasters, and has planned to provide temporary facilities to enable continuity of learning upon re-opening.

However, some schools were extensively destroyed, which will necessitate the total overhaul of the infrastructure or permanent relocation.

26. Such arrangements for permanent solutions are out-of-scope for the re-opening interventions by January 2022. However, we shall engage other agencies of Government to mobilize resources and identify areas to relocate these Schools. In the meantime, parents are encouraged to take learners from these affected Schools to the nearest affordable School of their choice.

Support to Private Education Institutions:

27. Government recognizes and appreciates the invaluable contribution of the Private Institutions of learning in the education of our children. We are aware of the negative impact that the pandemic has inflicted on these institutions, and have held consultations with the Private Sector players to find a solution to some of the challenges encountered.

28. Government is committed to promote investment by the Private Sector; however, due to competing demands on its resource envelope, it is incapacitated to extend financial support to proprietors of Private Education Institutions to address challenges encountered in preparation for the re-opening of schools. However, as has been the case, the Ministry will continue to offer assistance in other forms such as; provision of instructional materials among others.

29. In addition, we do encourage the Private Education Institutions to take advantage of the opportunities availed through the other functions of Government and the Private Sector at large. Some of these include:

a) Bank of Uganda: – issued an extension of all COVID19 relief measures to the Education and hospitality Sectors for one more year starting September 2021.

b) UMEME: – has agreed to give schools a grace period of twelve months to pay any outstanding electricity bills.

c) National Water and Sewerage Cooperation: – is looking into waiving the non-V.A.T. fees for outstanding bills for Schools since March 2020, until the time of re-opening. In addition, they are looking at the possibility of discounting the cost of a jerrycan of water to perhaps as low as UGX. 25/= only, at public water points that serve Schools.

Lastly, they have told us that they shall look into the possibility of connecting schools to the national water grid at no cost as long as the school is within the coverage area.

d) Uganda Revenue Authority (U.R.A): – informed us that they waived all tax penalties and arrears up to June 2020, for all businesses (of which Private Education Institutions are a part of this category). Also, U.R.A. mentioned that schools which have credit liabilities may approach the Agency and negotiate flexible repayments.

U.R.A. has also waived the 12% excise duty on internet data for all Education and Health Training Institutions.

e) Financial Institutions: We have been engaging with the Private Financial Institutions too. And we have been made aware that some have already put in place relief measures for schools. For example; Stanbic Bank has informed us that they have fully waived all accrued interest on loans to schools for the year 2021.

They have also waived all penalties to schools and supporting businesses. Lastly, Banks are willing to lend to Private Schools interventional working capital at reduced rates.

30. We advise that the Private Education Partners approach the above Financial Institutions and Agencies, to get guidance on the availability of credit facilities to address the issue of financial constraints. It is important to note that most of these institutions, require Private Schools to have good financial records. For example, the relief measures that U.R.A. is extending require that Private Schools regularly file their returns with the tax body.

School Fees:

31. We appreciate that non-Universal Primary Education (UPE) and non-Universal Secondary Education (USE) Schools, need to charge school fees to facilitate their operations. However, as a Ministry, what we are against is arbitrary increase of school charges. Therefore, we appeal to Schools to be mindful that these learners are coming from families that have equally been affected by the COVID19 pandemic.

32. In addition, we have guided before, that upon re-opening even as it were after the first lockdown; parents should not be asked to pay higher school fees than what they were paying before school closures.

33. Lastly, on the matter of school fees, we recall that the Senior Two Class reported to school for less than two (2) weeks before the schools were closed again during the second wave of the COVID19 pandemic.

We are cognizant of the fact that some learners had already paid up all the term’s school fees; therefore, it is only fair that learners of the Senior Two Class who had fully paid-up school fees, be exempted from making additional payments during the first term when they report to their former School for the new academic year that starts in January 2022.

Continuity and Progression of Learners:

34. Only learners who are at least six (6) years of age shall be allowed to join Primary One (P.1).

35. By the time schools closed again in June 2021, due to the second wave of COVID19; learners in P.4, P.5, and P.6 had already completed their assessments and were promoted to the next respective Classes – that is, P.5, P.6, and P.7.

36. The P.1, P.2, and P.3 Classes of 2020, shall report in the next respective Classes of P.2, P.3, and P.4. Remedial lessons shall be provided for these Classes during the First Term of Academic Year 2022; to help them cover critical content for the previous Class.

37. Senior One and Senior Two Classes shall be progressed to Senior Two and Senior Three, respectively. Remedial lessons shall be provided for these classes during the First Term of 2022, irrespective of the fact that they had been beneficiaries of home-study materials.

38. The Senior Three and Senior Five Classes shall progress to Senior Four and Senior Six respectively upon reporting for the First Term of 2022.

39. UNEB shall release its calendar for the end-of-cycle examinations to be conducted in 2022, and the registration period of candidates; now that the school re-opening Calendar has been confirmed.

40. Enhancing continuity of learning and recovery of the lost learning time, through distribution of home-study materials to learners shall continue. The exercise for distribution of home-study materials to learners in P.1 to P.4 and S.5 and S.6 is ongoing.

These are cohorts of learners, that had missed out in the earlier rounds of materials that were distributed prior to the second COVID19 national lockdown. These materials are being provided to learners in both Public and Private Schools.

The School Calendar for 2022:

41. All levels: Pre-primary, Primary, and Secondary Schools shall re-open on 10th of January 2022.

42. First Term shall operate for fourteen (14) weeks from Monday 10th of January 2022 to Friday 15th of April 2022, followed by a holiday of three (3) weeks.

43. Second Term opens for fourteen weeks (14) from Monday 09th of May 2022 to Friday 19th of August 2022, followed by a holiday of three (3) weeks.

44. Third Term shall start on Monday 05th September 2022 to Friday 09th December 2022, followed by a holiday of seven (7) weeks till Monday 29th January 2023.

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