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Schools Record Poor Turn Up of Learners Two Weeks After Reopening

Several government-aided schools in Luwero, Masaka, Rakai, Mukono, Nakaseke, Gulu and Amolator, among other districts, are struggling with a very poor turn up of learners, many of them recording less than half of the student population they had before schools were closed on March 20, 2020.
Young boys transporting sugar canes along Kisoro-Bunagana road . Several boys in school going age are still in petty trade (Photo Credit Samuel Amanya)

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Schools across the country have recorded a low turn up of learners, two weeks after the government ended a 22-months closure of educational institutions.

Several government-aided schools in  Luwero, Masaka, Rakai, Mukono, Nakaseke, Gulu and Amolator, among other districts, are struggling with a very poor turn up of learners, many of them recording less than half of the student population they had before schools were closed on March 20, 2020.

St. Kizito Primary School Namasumbi in Mukono district has so far received less than 200 learners out of the more than 300 learners at the school prior to the closure that came as a measure to control the spread of COVID-19. In a rather worse situation is Ngando RC Primary School which has so far received only 80 out of more than 300 pupils.

In Luwero district, the turn up especially in rural schools is between 55 to 60 per cent of the expected population of learners. Some of the schools visited include Matembe Primary Shool which had only 158 out of 350 learners whereas Kiso Primary School had 224 pupils out of 400 and Kiduula Primary School which had registered 111 out of 158 expected learners.

Luwero District Secretary for Education Daniel Kyaterekera says that some of the learners are yet to return to school due to a lack of school requirements, while others could drop out as a result of challenges within their family setup.

//Cue in; “As Luwero…

Cue out…go back to school.”//

Luganda// Cue in; “Okusinga ensonga…

Cue out…nabo gyebali.”//

His argument is partly confirmed by Talent Tuhambaze, a senior three student in Kisoro district who says that he is yet to go back to school due to a lack of necessities like school fees and books. Talent was found transporting sugarcane during school time along the border between Uganda and DRC.

In Masaka, Mathew Bayita the headteacher of St Immaculate Kasaka Primary School in Buwunga Sub County says that only 235 out of the expected 457 learners have reported back. He adds even some of those that have returned are not regularly reporting for classes.

//Cue in; “the learners…

Cue out...not been used to.”//

Luganda//Cue in; “abaana bagezezaako…

Cue out; ….twongere okubabangula.”//

In Gulu District, statistics from the district education department indicate that only 3,500 learners out of a total population of 29,000 returned to school in the first week. Caesar Akena, the Gulu District Education Officer has since urged parents to send their children back to school.

//Cue in; “only 15 per cent…

Cue out…is very unfortunate.”//

But Betty Akello Ecam, the headmistress of Amolatar Primary School in Amolatar district is optimistic that more pupils will report back especially now that the parents are sure that schools will stay open.

Kisoro District Education Officer Emmanuel Mwunvaneza says they are struggling to convince learners especially in the sub-counties located along the borders between Uganda, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo to forfeit sugar cane and cigarette trading activities and return to school. 

//Cue in; “the teachers are…

Cue out….and more.”//

Last week the Ministry of Education and Sports, in partnership with Save the Children launched a campaign to ensure that every child goes back to school.Dr Joyce Moriku Kaducu, the State Minister for Primary Education said the campaign will target the most vulnerable children, particularly those with disability and those that began work during the two-year school closure.

Meanwhile, there is a good turn up of teachers across private and government-aided schools across the country. At Kitgum Public School, Doreen Sarah Acan, the headteacher of the school said that all the 29 teachers reported back to school, while Gladys Oyat, the headteacher of Y.Y Okot Memorial College said all the 45 teachers had reported back.

//Cue in; “All our teachers have…

Cue out…if the all come.”//

In Soroti City, Party Emokol, the Principal Inspector of Schools said the turn of teachers up is very impressive as most of them reported on the first day of school reopening. Similarly, Grace Fiona Atim, the Gulu City Inspector of Schools said that during the first week of school reopening, most schools had registered between 98 per cent of teachers turn up but the challenge remains low staff ceilings for schools.

In Amuru District, a total of 640 out of 753 teachers in the public primary and secondary schools had returned to classes, according to Apollo Kaggwa Okello, the Secretary of Education. Kaggwa says they are hopeful other teachers will return to school before the end of the week.

Patrick Manjasi, the Headteacher of Wanale View Secondary School in Mbale City said although the majority of teachers reported back, some have requested to be part-time teachers because they are running personal businesses. Manjasi said when he contacted some of his teachers told him that are now in farming, riding a bodaboda and others are hawkers.

//Cue in; “Before the lockdown…

Cue out…we shall manage”//