Uganda: Ministry Seeks Shs97 Billion to Reopen All Schools

(file photo).

The Ministry of Education has said they need Shs97.6 billion for reopening of schools and other education institutions across the country, Daily Monitor has learnt.

The proposal on the cost implication of schools reopening has been developed by its department of Education Planning and Policy Analysis (EPPA).
Once completed, the report will be handed over to government and Education ministry.

The document indicates that Shs97.6b would be required to implement the Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) in full to prepare schools for reopening.
EPPA also noted that the ministry would spend Shs1.67b in a scenario where the SOPs are implemented in full and schools reopen for only candidate classes while the rest of learners stay home.

The documents further indicates that in the event that government reopens schools for only candidate classes, the rest of the Shs97b will be spent on developing and distributing self-study materials for the non-candidate learners in primary and secondary schools who will be staying at home. The money will be used to procure and distribute radio and TV sets to all households with learners and facilitate the delivery of lessons.

The ministry further says the money will also provide additional classrooms required at school to meet the SOPs, latrines and desks and salaries for all additional teachers and support staff including school nurses.
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In the report, the ministry also indicated that it would use the Global Partnership in Education (GPE) grant from the World Bank and 2020/2021 Budget support.
A source at the ministry said the ministry expects to get about $15m from the GPE from the World Bank. The Ministry of Education was allocated Shs3.6 trillion in the 2020/2021 Budget.

The government national Covid-19 taskforce has since March received shs53.5b both in cash and material support. Out of the above amount, Shs17b was donated in cash while the rest was in material form such as foodstuffs and medical supplies, others.

In June, the Ministry of Health issued a list of SOPs to all schools across the country if they were to be reopened.
The SOPs require learners to be at least four metres apart in classroom, all entry and access points in a school must have foot operated handwashing facilities and all schools must have qualified medical personal to monitor and manage covid-19 related cases.

However, these were rejected by most heads of private schools, who said the implementation would be too costly for them.
According to the Ministry of Education taskforce headed by Mr Ismail Mulindwa, the director of beducation, Shs97.6b is not attainable given the current economic situation occasioned by Covid-19 in the country.
The taskforce proposed an alternative of reopening for only candidate classes in primary and secondary schools and final year students in higher institutions of learning which would require only Shs1.67b.

“The task force has critically looked at Scenario Two with a view to come up with a realistic budget that is in line with the available funding from grants and government of Uganda budget 2020/2021 education sector allocation,” the draft report states.
According to the taskforce, only government-aided education institutions should be provided with equipment and facilitation for implementation of SOPs, promote linkage between schools and health facilities instead of recruiting new health personnel for schools. The taskforce also proposed suspension of the proposal for provision of additional infrastructure, facilities and staff for schools.

They propose learners in lower classes should continue with enhanced home study programmes.
When contacted yesterday, Mr Mulindwa said the document was still a draft proposal and they were still consulting key stakeholders before making a final report that will be submitted to government. “We are still making consultations,” Mr Mulindwa said. Parents, learners and owners of schools are all in the dark about the reopening of schools. Last month, President Museveni said a final decision on reopening of schools would be made next month.

What schools should have before reopening


-Committee with seven members who write a report to the district taskforce daily.
-Each class to have a student leader, specifically for Covid-19.
-District Education Officer to lead the district taskforce.
--District Health Officer to train teachers, heath workers and non-teaching staff on the control measures.
-Each school to recruit health assistant. The district taskforce to disinfect all institutions which were used as quarantine centres.
-Compulsory wearing of masks and handwashing.
-Full time trained personnel to do temperature screening.
-A well calibrated working temperature gun at each entrance, exit from dormitory.
-Isolation room to accommodate suspected cases.
- Learners with flu-like symptoms sent home.
-A foot operated handwashing facility with water provided at all times.
-At least five litre liquid soap available all time.
-Waste water disposed of in a constructed soak pit of 4 metres depth with hardcore stones.
-All learners keep social distance of two metres.
-Assembly discouraged.
-Restrict community access.
-Supervise learners washing hands.
-Supervise break periods and scatter releasing students for breaks, lunch and going home to limit interaction.
-Four square metres per student per class, from one metre square are required to achieve the two metre distance between learners. Only 10 and 15 students can be accommodated in a standard classroom for primary and secondary and tertiary institutions respectively.

-Additional streams and new infrastructure requirements or modification may be required to accommodate the other students. Additional teachers may also be required to teach the extra classes or adjust timetables to accommodate the increase in the number of streams and repurposing teachers may be required.
-Curriculum to be reviewed to address the shortened period of face to face and provide materials that can be delivered online.
-Ensure good ventilation equivalent to 1 per cent of the total floor area.
-Ensure presence of windows equivalent to 10 per cent of the total floor area. 24
-Natural light on both walls, Keep windows open.
-Disinfect at end of day.
-Confirmation of one case in a learning institution leads to automatic closure. The institution will be cordoned off and secured until all the contacts to the confirmed case are identified and listed by health teams.The school will then be closed. The above are mentioned among other SOPs

dmukhaye@ug.nationmedia.com

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