Sunday, March 7We Break the News

UGANDA: The Government has encouraged free learning to all students studying online.

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The Ministry of Education and Sports, has instructed schools that offer the national curriculum and are currently teaching students online, not to charge parents for this service.

According to a July 7, 2020 letter by Alex Kakooza, the Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Education, government is not opposed to online learning per se but having received complaints from some parents about schools that charge a fee to access this learning, it has set the record straight.

“This has meant that a sizeable number of learners, whose parents are unable or unwilling to pay these high charges, are being left out,” Kakooza wrote in the letter.

As for schools offering international curriculum, Kakooza said that parents of learners in those schools should discuss with the school management and reach a consensus on the fees.

“The school management body should urgently engage parents of learners of the international curriculum to discuss and come to an agreed position on reasonable fees for effective online learning to take place,” Kakooza added.

The Permanent Secretary however, said, that schools that offer national curriculum should not require parents of learners to pay for online learning during the Covid-19 closure of schools.

Kakooza’s full letter

He said,” Government of Uganda is funding the development of the relevant materials by National Curriculum Development Centre (NCDC) to support home study for this group of learners. The school management should, therefore, guide learners to make use of these standardized materials, which are free of charge. This applies to all schools, both national and international.”

Schools country-wide were closed on March 20 following the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Some schools had become innovative by shifting their lessons online but at a fee, arguing that the money was to cater for the welfare of the teachers.

In fact, a number of private schools in Kampala had reminded parents to pay in order for their children to access the lessons, which attracted criticism from some parents.

Kakooza’s letter will therefore come as a relief to some parents, some of whom had lost jobs or whose businesses had been greatly affected by Covid-19.

For the schools, the directive means they will have to devise other means of sustaining their programmes as well as maintaining their teachers.

Kakooza says the ministry of Education has since developed the Education Sector Covid-19 Preparedness and Response plan, which among others provides for remote learning through radio and television lesson broadcast and online teaching.

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