With just two days left to the much-anticipated school reopening dates,
across the country are stuck, with no money to put in place the required
facilities for implementing COVID-19 Standard Operating Procedures.
though the government was 'chest-thumping' that it had released close
to 32 billion
Shillings as a capitation grant for all schools and an additional 1.5
million Shillings for each school to put up the required equipment in
line with the
standard operating procedures, headteachers say, the money is yet to get
to them. Some of the needed supplies include, among others, hand washing
equipment, sanitizers, disinfectants, and temperature guns.
Zadock Tumuhimbise, the chairperson of Uganda National Teachers Union says that the delayed release of capitation
grants is frustrating school heads. Tumuhimbise cautions that most
government schools may not be ready for opening by Thursday.
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In most of the government-aided schools visited by our teams, arrangements have been
made to ensure that there is enough spacing to accommodate the learners
with little or no contact, and that the handwashing facilities are put
in place. Some schools had just cleared bushes that
covered the school during the lockdown.
Ben Mugasho, the deputy headteacher at Kabale Secondary School, shares that
preparations, especially in ordering items to use are stressing them due to the
financial crisis. He adds that although they were told to procure items and pay
later, none of the suppliers is willing to give out items on credit.
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Moroto District Education Officer Paul Oputa says that most government
schools in the area had enough space for social distancing and other
requirements but lacked the basic requirements outlined as part of the COVID-19 procedures, and
therefore they could not give them a green light to reopen.
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Lira District Inspector of Schools
Patrick Olwit explains
that in the absence of funding, schools will be incapacitated as they
start a new journey, filled with unusual arrangements, and uncertainty.
Olwit, however, advises school authorities to work together with school
management committees to make some arrangements as
they wait for funds.
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But, Paul Ntale, the Headteacher of Duhaga Secondary school in Hoima, says that even if
they get some funds and set up the required equipment, schools will need more
funds to address other needs like paying off utility bills and feeds.
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The funding challenges came after the government decided to halt
quarterly releases to educational institutions during the lockdown. The
Ministry of Finance also asked the schools to return some of the funds
obtained for the would be the second term.
Headteachers that our reporters talked to note that if the funds had
been halted, the current panic ad confusion could have been avoided. Francis Muhereza, the headteacher Semuliki High School in
Bundibugyo says the school has no operational funds at the moment, and
that the delayed releases are straining their planning.
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Ezekia Masereka, a headteacher at Standard Nursery and Primary School in
Ntotoro Sub County says they are financially struggling to meet all the
requirements. His says that the school is relying on parents who have promised
to contribute funds to buy sanitizers, soap and handwashing facilities.
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Ayaa Jackson Kayo, the headteacher of Global high school in Tororo municipality, has faulted inspectors for applying double standards as they are
pressing private schools on the SOPs and ‘lightly supervising’ government
schools yet most of them are ill-prepared. “They are handling private schools
with an iron fist yet government schools have not set up anything,” says
In the same development, private schools that are also still struggling with
setting up the required items and meeting the SOPs are guessing how to secure
operating finances to keep them in business.
Justus Bithaghalise, the Bundibugyo District Education Officer says that most
schools are yet to acquire temperature guns and hand washing facilities. He, however, adds that any school that will fall
short of the SOPs will not open and the learners will be transferred to other
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However, Ismail Mulindwa, the chairperson of the education COVID-19
taskforce says that despite the delays, the funds will
eventually hit the school accounts. “The money was released. I know that
they are looking at timelines. There might be system delays in their respectful
local governments but each school will receive the money,’ Mulindwa said in an interview.
Meanwhile, the inspection teams in different areas are in the final phases and
expect to produce a list of schools that will be allowed to reopen. According
to inspection guidelines, no school will be reopened without meeting at least
60 per cent of the set indicators out of which social distancing and the
availability of handing washing facilities are critical.
Kirinya Ayubu is the URN Bureau Chief of Elgon/Bukedi Sub Regions . He holds a Bachelors Degree in Mass Communication from Islamic University in Uganda and a Diploma in Computer Science and Information Technology from the same University.