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Government’s Flawed Mode of Inspection Censured By Private School Owners.

Ugandan school proprietors under the National Private Educational Institutions Association (NPEIA), are questioning the Ministry of Education’s motives of going to their institutions without notifying them.

They are protesting the abrupt decision of the government to inspect their school premises without prior information.

The secretary to the ministry’s Covid-19 committee, Mr. Hassadu Kirabira, on behalf of the private sector, said that while the private sector is still waiting for the ministry’s guidelines (they had not received them yet) they learned from sources that the ministry had sent teams to their schools.

“Even today, I was in a meeting with the Ministry of Education officials. They didn’t say anything. Our schools are still closed. What are they inspecting? What are they not telling us? Who will give them information because our schools are closed?” Mr. Kirabira asked.

He said that upon meeting with the Minister of Education, Ms. Janet Museveni at the end of last month together with her deputies; Dr. Chrysostom Muyingo and Rosemary Seninde, the ministry’s permanent secretary, Mr. Alex Kakooza, informed them that he was still drafting the guidelines after receiving the Standard Operating Procedures from Ministry of Health.

“We don’t understand. It is like they have already taken a decision to keep us closed. You know what to expect in their report. Our schools have been closed for over four months. This hurts us. They should come out and say what they want,” Mr. Kirabira said.

“Some schools are already investing in inputting the measures in place to prevent the spread of Covid-19. We hear that they are going to our schools. Where are the guidelines they promised us?” Mr. Kirabira said.

Mr. Ismail Mulindwa, the head of the Covid-19 task force under the Ministry of Health, said they are studying whether schools around the country can reopen without compromising the Ministry of Health standard operating procedures.

“Every school is currently involved in some level of preparations but this does not mean the schools will reopen next week or next month. They have to have some level of preparation. We are currently doing so many things but the time is not yet ripe for us to share with you what we are doing,” he said.

On Friday, Dr. John Chrysostom Muyingo said the ministry’s directorate of Education standards had delegated a team of technical staff to assess the preparedness of the schools for reopening.

He informed that some of the requirements for reopening include schools having a continuous flow of water, each student having a personal desk to ensure social distancing, and for those in boarding schools, sleeping on a single bed to avoid crowding.

“Ministry of Health gave us a very big list of requirements. Different schools have different requirements. Our team is in the field to understand how prepared we are. We have given them for two weeks. I don’t know when they started or when they will give us the report,” he said.

With support from GIZ, Lord Mayor Erias Lukwago last week said they were already installing hand washing standpipes at entrances to Universal Primary Schools around Kampala.

President Museveni last month said he would make an announcement before September on whether to declare a dead year for educational institutions or allow a phased reopening starting with the candidate classes, thereby tasking the Education ministry to work with their healthy counterparts to prepare the institutions ahead of the declaration.

But Mr. Kirabira said yesterday that their meeting with the ministers gave an indication that most of the participants had taken a decision to not open schools.

Even prior to the advent of the Covid-19 pandemic, most schools were grappling with sanitation and high enrolment.

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