Private school owners are protesting government’s move to inspect their institutions without prior information.
Under their umbrella National Private Educational Institutions Association (NPEIA), the school proprietors are questioning the Ministry of Education intensions of going to their institutions without notifying them.
Mr Hassadu Kirabira, the secretary to the ministry’s Covid-19 committee, representing the private sector, yesterday said while they were still waiting for the ministry’s guidelines (which they hadn’t received) they learnt from sources that the ministry had sent teams to their schools.
“Even today, I was in a meeting with the Ministry of Education officials. They didn’t say anything. Our schools are still closed. What are they inspecting? What are they not telling us? Who will give them information because our schools are closed?” Mr Kirabira asked.
He said when they met with the Minister of Education, Ms Janet Museveni at the end of last month together with her deputies; Dr Chrysostom Muyingo and Rosemary Seninde, the ministry’s permanent secretary, Mr Alex Kakooza, informed them that he was still drafting the guidelines after receiving the Standard Operating Procedures from Ministry of Health.
“We don’t understand. It is like they have already taken a decision to keep us closed. You know what to expect in their report. Our schools have been closed over four months. This hurts us. They should come out and say what they want,” Mr Kirabira said.
“Some schools are already investing in putting the measures in place to prevent the spread of Covid-19. We hear that they are going to our schools. Where are the guidelines they promised us?” Mr Kirabira said.
In a telephone interview with Daily Monitor yesterday, Mr Ismail Mulindwa, the Education ministry head of the Covid-19 task force, said they are studying whether schools around the country can reopen without compromising the Ministry of Health standard operating procedures.
“Every school is currently involved in some level of preparations but this does not mean the schools will reopen next week or next month. They have to have some level of preparations. We are currently doing so many things but the time is not yet ripe for us to share with you what we are doing,” he said.
On Friday, while speaking on the sidelines of Kabaka Ronald Muwenda Mutebi’s 27th Coronation anniversary, Dr John Chrysestom Muyingo said the ministry’s directorate of Education standards had dispatched a team of technical staff to assess the preparedness of the schools for reopening.
He said some of the requirements for reopening include schools having continuous flow of water, each student having a personal desk to ensure social distancing and for those in boarding schools, sleeping on a single bed to avoid crowding.
“Ministry of Health gave us a very big list of requirements. Different schools have different requirements. Our team is in the field to understand how prepared we are. We have given them two weeks. I don’t know when they started or when they will give us the report,” he said.
With support from GIZ, Lord Mayor Erias Lukwago last week said they were already installing hand washing standpipes at entrances to Universal Primary Schools around Kampala.
President Museveni last month said he would make an announcement before September on whether to declare a dead year for education institutions or allow a phased reopening starting with the candidate classes.
He then tasked the Education ministry to work with their health counterparts to prepare the institutions ahead of the declaration.
But Mr Kirabira yesterday said their meeting with the ministers showed that majority of the participants had already taken a decision to keep schools closed.
Even before the advent of Covid-19 pandemic, most schools were grappling with sanitation and high enrolment.