Education Ministry Cautions Schools On Swimming Pools

Rosemary Seninde, the minister of State for Primary Education says that schools need to ensure the safety of learners around water because most accidents that take place involving learners and swimming pools are as result of negligence of schools
According to the Education Ministry, schools need to make sure that learners are supervised by teachers when they are swimming

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The ministry of Education has urged all schools  with swimming pools to adhere to the necessary safety measures to ensure safety of learners in such schools. 

The ministry made its call as the new school term opened on Monday. While addressing a meeting in Kampala, the state minister for Primary Education, Rosemary Seninde called upon schools to adhere to the set government requirements. 

According to the ministry, schools with swimming pools are expected to have a full-time life saver and access to the pool needs to be restricted. Learners should also only access the pool under the supervision of teacher or someone involved in the management of the facility. 

Seninde, says the accidents that take place involving learners in swimming pools are most times as a result of negligence of schools. 

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In 2012, three-year-old Sunshine Michelle Baraza drowned in a school swimming pool at Acorns International on her first day of school. In February 2019, John Bol Garang, a nursery a pupil at Credo Nursery and Primary Schools in Gulu drowned at Boma Hotel during a swimming lesson. Other cases where reported in 2019 include; Emmanuel Nuwamanya, a S4 student at Muntuyera High School drowned in a pond near the school in May,2019.  

Later in August 2019, 19-year-old Allan Kalule, a S5 student from Our Lady of Africa SS in Mukono drowned at the swimming pool at Springs International Hotel in Kasese during a school trip.  

Seninde adds that the ministry cannot stop schools from building swimming pools but a lot more care is needed in ensuring protection of learners. “Everyone would like their child to be able to swim but teachers need to take a lot more care to avoid some of the deaths that are reported from school swimming pools. We have given them guidelines that they need to follow.”  

Swimming is one of the recognized co-curricular activities by the Education Ministry in addition to traditional activities like football, netball, physical education, Music, Dance and Drama.  

However, according to Moses Kalazi, the director of Swim Safe Uganda-an NGO that advocates for water safety, the education ministry has not done enough to ensure the safety of learners around pools.  

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According to Kalazi an estimated 127 life guards are in Uganda. Majority of them are however employed at beaches leaving school swimming pools manned by unqualified people.  

In 2018, Uganda Police Marines investigated a total of 69 cases of drowning. A total of 142 people are estimated to have died while 155 people were rescued. One case is still missing.

Kalazi says government needs to pass a water policy that will reduce the number of pool deaths. “Right now, we do not have a national water safety plan yet public pools have become very common in the country. The plan will make sure the owners of public pools need to adhere to certain standards and be held responsible in cases of death.”

Seninde also urged schools to make sure that the safety of learners is kept.

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The Education ministry is organizing a national symposium on creating safe and positive learning environments for learners. The symposium is scheduled to take place from the September 19-20th, 2019. The ministry hopes to develop a violence against children map in the country and also new measures to ensure safety of learners in schools.