The early closure of school before the official school
calendar is likely to affect the recovery of time lost during the COVID-19-induced lockdowns. Several schools released learners for the second holidays three or two weeks before the official closure.
The Ministry of Education and Sports set August 12, 2022, as the last day of term two. However, by July 21, 2022, several
schools had already started sending learners for holidays. Francis Ojulong, a senior educator, who is also the
headteacher at St Martin's primary school Mulago, points out that in the second
term alone, some private schools might have wasted nearly six weeks out of the
14 that were allocated for teaching and learning activities.
“If they break off for holidays three weeks to the
official date, don’t count three weeks. Last week, must have been occupied by
examinations, which means there was no teaching taking place in that week too.
That pushes the uncovered time to four weeks,” said Ojulong. He further points out that there is a possibility
that the same schools carried out the beginning of term and midterm assessment
thus wasting another two weeks.
The Education ministry had prohibited beginning of term
and midterm assessments at the beginning of the year claiming that schools
needed to spend most of their time teaching and making up for the lost time. Nevertheless, most of the schools went ahead to conduct assessments and provided results to parents during school visitation days.
Adrine Kabananukye, the deputy headteacher of Kololo SS justifies Ojulong’s calculation of the time that has not been utilized in the
“Private schools might be having the largest number of
school children today. This means the majority of learners are incurring
substantial learning losses after the lockdown. The question is; if the
recovery time is lost, when will it be recovered?” Kabananukye noed.
Government-closed schools for 22 months, which is
the longest school closure recorded across the world. To limit the impact and
try to address learning losses, the ministry of education and sports drafted a
plan extending the school term and decreasing the number of days for
holidays to allow the recovery of lost time when schools opened their doors to learners.
The intervention came at a time when school proprietors
were pushing the government to reopen the education sector. The school owners, their lobbyists in parliament, and other forums claimed that they were worried about the
fact that children were losing out on their academics. When URN contacted selected school administrators, the majority said they have decided to close early because of the hiked food prices.
some parents and concerned educationists, there is a bigger undisclosed problem
being created. Hasadu Kirabira, the chairman of the
National Private Educational Institutions Association (NPEIA), says that given
the economic situation, schools had nothing to do. Kirabira actually
points out that the association discussed the early school closure and it
was agreed that if a school was not able to sustain learners, it
was better to send them back home.
//Cue in: “so first of…
Cue out…the reality.”//
Kirabira argues that more learning time might be lost in
the third term as well if the situation remains as it is currently. He says
that schools might not increase fees because parents will not be able to pay
thus seeing a reeducation of the school term as the available solution. He says to minimize the loss, schools have been advised
to look at the syllabus and compile the work that they have not covered into
holiday packages that can be given to learners to study during the holiday so
that teachers conduct remedial work in the first weeks of the third term.
//Cue in; “I think…
Cue out…going to move.”//
In a recent interview, Abdulhakimu Nyombi, the
Coordinator of the Umbrella of private school proprietors in the Bukomansimbi
district also noted that when they realized that they were unable to complete as planned, they hastily delivered the lesson content to the
//Cue in; “Due to the…
Cue out…they are okay.”//
Given that the material load is planned according to the duration of the term when the syllabus is being created, Nyombi's argument
raises further concerns about the quality of instruction that may have been
Nyombi also notes that if there was any time
lost during the second semester, it wasn't just at private schools; numerous
public schools also lost nearly three weeks due to the teachers' strike.
//Cue in; “and more so…
Cue out…we were working.”//
Kirabira blames the situation on the government for having failed to support private schools during and after the COVID-19 school closures.
“We came out of the lockdown with a lot of challenges.
Before we could handle them, we are seeing prices of food, utility, and other
things we use in our school skyrocketing. We had asked for a bailout from the
government but nothing was given to us. How can we survive?" Kirabira wonders.
//Cue in; “he ministry is…
Cue out…because of what?”//
Dr. Jane Egua, Director for Higher Technical
Vocational Education and Training in the Ministry of Education and Sports, says that the wastage is definitely affecting the receiver of the education timelines
since they don’t want any child to be left behind.
Dr. Egau, who is also a member of the COVID-19 Education
Response Committee, adds that the committee is set to sit to discuss all the
interruptions that have occurred ever since the plan was issued so that they
//Cue in; “I think...
Cue out… catch-up time, ”//
In order to make up for missed learning time during the
course of this year, Dr Egau says that extending the school day and adding
weekend days to the regular school schedule should be explored moving ahead.
Prior to reopening, the National Planning Authority and
World Bank had proposed the two, but they were not taken into consideration by
the ministry since it was observed that even if they wanted to make up for the
lost time, students required rest time.
Numerous analysts have noted that the unusual school
closures caused by COVID-19 will have an impact on the educational system for
years to come. For instance, according to a recent assessment by the
Economic Policy Research Center (EPRC), the impacts of COVID-19 on the Ugandan
education system will be totally reversed by 2030.
The situation could worsen
than anticipated due to limited investment in the sector and other