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Teachers Oppose ‘Forced’ COVID-19 Vaccination

Baguma says the government should get back to the drawing table and design a new approach that will encourage the teachers to voluntarily embrace COVID-19 vaccination instead of piling on them pressure.
A teacher at the COVID-19 vaccination center at Bat Valley Primary School

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Uganda National Union of Teachers-UNATU is opposed to the directive from the Education and Sports Ministry compelling all teachers to take the COVID-19 jab.

Filbert Baguma, the UNATU General Secretary, says that although the idea of vaccinating all teachers is good for their own safety, it is not right to coerce them to take the jab.

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Baguma says the government should get back to the drawing table and design a new approach that will encourage the teachers to voluntarily embrace COVID-19 vaccination instead of piling on them pressure.

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UNATU’s concern stems from a directive issued by the Education Ministry, Permanent Secretary, Alex Kakooza to all teachers to get vaccinated to stop the spread of the pandemic in schools, amidst resistance from some teachers.

The directive stemmed from the poor turn up of teachers at the COVID-19 vaccination centers across the country. Only 8,517 out of the 550,000 teachers expected had shown up for the jab as of last week. 

As a result, different local governments set timelines for the vaccination of the teachers. For instance in teachers in Kampala central have two days (Wednesday and Thursday) to show up at Bat valley primary school for vaccination.

Headteachers have also issued timetables indicating the time the teachers should appear for the vaccination.   Willy Turyahikahe, a teacher at Nakasero primary school notes that instead of forcing teachers to go for vaccination, the government should carry out a sensitisation campaign to attract the target group.

Turyahikahe says that currently, teachers are suspicious of the exercise give the information being shared regarding the vaccines.  

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Timothy Ssali, another teacher from Nakasero says that forcing them to take the COVID-19 jab can also land the government in legal battles.

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Ronah Kamusiime, a teacher at East Kololo primary school, says that the government has been tagging teacher vaccination on reopening schools. To her, the explanation beats logic since the parents who spend time with the children are not vaccinated.  

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However, some teachers blame their colleagues for being irresponsible. Amina Mukasa Buyinza, the Headteacher Kololo High School notes that before reopening schools, teachers were asking how the government would ensure their safety but they are now being driven by ‘street talk’ about the vaccination process.

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