Following the outbreak of COVID- 19, education systems worldwide have been significantly affected. Since most of the schools in Uganda, whether day or boarding, are highly crowded as a result of our high population growth, they presented an environment for easy transmission of the COVID -19 virus epidemic.
In response to the danger posed by the pandemic, the President on Wednesday 18th March 2020 took proactive measures and announced the closure of all schools and educational institutions from 20th March 2020. This measure resulted in the closure of more than 73,200 schools and institutions affecting more than 15,100,000 learners and 548,000 teachers.
In recognition of the impact of the pandemic on the education system in Uganda, the Ministry of Education and Sports constituted a sector Response Task Force to strengthen the education sector preparedness and generate response measures to mitigate the impact of the outbreak of COVID-19 on Uganda’s education system. Consequently, the Sector developed a Preparedness and Response plan which focuses on two main areas: Ensuring continuity of learning while learners are at home and preparing for the resumption of and managing schooling once the COVID19 lockdown is lifted.
With regard to continuity of learning while learners are at home, I informed you in my statements of 4th April 2020 and 20th April 2020, that holistic learning happens beyond the four walls of a classroom although it is reinforced by effective implementation of the whole curriculum at school. In the present circumstances of national lockdown, the greatest contributors to learning are the parents and immediate family members.
I, therefore, appealed to parents and families to help learning take place by involving the learners in their home activities to give them skills for life such as cooking, cleaning, gardening, looking after animals, business, Art, music, physical play and sports and many others. I also request you to assist them continue learning academic material and spend time with them to develop their values and positive attitude to life.
To facilitate continuity of learning for all our learners especially in Primary and Secondary schools, the Ministry worked with National Curriculum Development Centre (NCDC) to produce harmonized learning packages/materials for use in the continuity of learning while children are at home. These are being delivered on Radios, Televisions, and self-study print materials. As you 2 may have observed on the front page picture in the Daily Monitor of 12th May 2020, Pupils of Nawansangwa P/S in Nawansangwa village in Kizuba sub-county, Namutumba district, were learning from the radio broadcast assisted by the adults in the home. I wish to thank all the parents and guardians who have continued to avail the family radios or even their phones to the children to facilitate learning. I also wish to thank the parents and siblings who are assisting the children to learn.
It has been motivating to see the enthusiasm of parents helping the home schooling. In my statement of 20th April 2020 and the two Circulars by the Permanent Secretary Ministry of Education and Sport on “Continuity of Learning” and “Distribution of Study materials” issued on 24th April 2010 to all Chief Administrative Officers, Town Clerks and Executive Director Kampala Capital City Authority, we were cognizant of the fact that some of our learners may not access broadcast on TV and radio. The broadcast of lessons has been mainly by UBC TV, UBC radio and other local radios where UBC broadcast does not reach. To ensure equity, we made it categorically clear that the Local Government administrative units at District, Sub-county, Parish and village level should locate and prioritize the least served learners in the distribution of selfstudy materials.
The reports from most parts of the country by various stakeholders indicate that learning is happening and is greatly appreciated by the learners, parents and teachers who listen to the lessons on broadcast and the print study materials. The feedback of the weaknesses that are brought about by inability to reach all by these modes of learning is appreciated and these weaknesses are being addressed. Our Commitment as a Ministry is to ensure that no child is left behind. This is what informs our vision of “Quality education and Sports for all”. Our philosophy is, “Every child matters and every child can achieve his or her maximum potential” provided he or she is taught in a conducive environment both at school and at home. A conducive environment is where the child is loved, appreciated as an individual, listened to, appropriately taught and given opportunity to try out things, corrected and disciplined in love. This is done by the adults at home and at school.
I would like you to know that we are aware that there are some of our learners who are not yet able to access learning by TV, radio or may not have got the self-study materials. This is because 3 as a Ministry, were not able to print for 100% of the learners since we do not have a special budget for COVID 19 response but we are doing our best. These materials were meant for all learners but starting with the learners in most disadvantaged environment and I hope the Local Government distributed them as such. These materials are not for SALE. If Local Governments, other leaders or NGOs wish to print and distribute to more learners, it should be done at their own expense and not of the learner or parent. I also wish to inform you that the print materials are available on the websites of MoES and NCDC.
Families with internet access can download for their children. I wish to request all leaders at various levels including Members of Parliament, Local Government at all your administrative structures, school governance, leadership and management, Foundation Bodies, Cultural leaders, NGOs, Community Development Organizations, Parents and Guardians and the Media to join us to promote effective continuity of learning during the lockdown and even after COVID 19. Together we can give our young people a future and a hope.
God has a divine plan for each one of them (Jer. 29:11) and He has ordained us, the adults to cause this to happen. We are all accountable to God for these young people. I look forward to your continuous support and feedback so that our children can get the best as they grow in our wonderful homeland in the heart of Africa. Let me say how grateful I am on behalf of the Ministry of Education and Sports to our media fraternity for the hand they are giving us to serve our young children for they are our hope for a better tomorrow.
Janet K. Museveni FirstLady of Uganda & Minister of Education and Sports