Schools in Uganda reopened, ending the longest lockdown in the world

Schools in Uganda reopened to students on Monday, ending the longest school closure in the world due to the COVID-19 pandemic

Kampala, Uganda-Uganda’s schools reopened to students on Monday, ending the longest school closure in the world due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The reopening has caused traffic congestion in some areas of the capital Kampala. Students can be seen walking on the street with their mattresses on their backs. This is a phenomenon of returning to school that has never been seen here in the past two years.

According to data from the United Nations Cultural Agency, schools in Uganda have been completely or partially closed for more than 83 weeks, which is the longest suspension period in the world. The closure affected more than 10 million learners.

For many parents, the reopening is long overdue.

“Inevitably, we have to open schools,” said Felix Okot, the father of a 6-year-old kindergartener. “The future of our children and the future of our country are at stake.”

He warned that the country’s schools cannot “wait forever” the end of the pandemic.

It is believed that many students returning to school did not receive any help during the lockdown. Most public schools that serve Ugandan children cannot provide virtual school education. The Associated Press reported in November that students in a remote town in Uganda had weeds growing in their classrooms and some students were working as gold miners in the marshes.

Some critics pointed out that the government of President Yoweri Museveni, a dictator whose wife is the Minister of Education for 36 years in power, has done little to support family learning. . Museveni defended the lockdown by insisting that the infected students pose a danger to their parents and others.

“There are many things that cannot be predicted now. The student turnout rate is unpredictable, and the teacher turnout rate is unpredictable,” said Fagilmandi, a former government school inspector who is now an independent consultant. “I am even more worried that many children will not return to school for various reasons, including tuition.”

Mandy also expressed concern that the virus outbreak would “spread very fast” in crowded schools, and urged school administrators to monitor closely.

Save the Children welcomes the reopening of schools in Uganda, warning that “if urgent action is not taken, the lost studies may lead to high dropout rates in the coming weeks”, including so-called cram clubs.

The aid organization warned in a statement on Monday that there will be a wave of dropouts, “because return-to-school students who fall behind in their studies fear that they will not have a chance to catch up.”

How long Uganda’s schools will remain open remains to be seen, and the surge in virus cases in recent days is shocking. In the past week, health authorities reported a daily positive rate of more than 10%, compared to almost zero in December. Museveni warned that if the occupancy rate of the intensive care unit reaches 50%, there may be a new lockdown.

In order to return to school smoothly, the authorities gave up any COVID test requirements for students. According to an arrangement that automatically promotes all students to the next class, an abridged course was also approved.

Uganda has received foreign support in reopening schools.

The United Nations Children’s Agency and the governments of the United Kingdom and Ireland announced financial support, focusing on virus surveillance and the mental health of students and teachers in 40,000 schools. They stated that their support is key to keeping the Ugandan school system open.