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Private Schools Shut Down, Proprietors Change Business

The coronavirus outbreak has suffocated businesses that were already struggling, with entrepreneurs now rethinking their strategies to reinvest in other ventures.

Some of the hardest-hit are proprietors of private schools who have outstanding loans and already gave their buildings to banks as collateral security, according to the Federation for Non-State Education Institutions (Fenei) national secretary, Mr. Patrick Kaboyo.

“It is clear every school has an outstanding loan to address. We did a survey and 95 percent of our schools have loans. We received this information from schools to request a fund from the government to support us offset these loans. If this fund is not there, we anticipate the commercial banks will take over our schools. We are going to petition all offices to make sure our issues are addressed,” Mr. Kaboyo said.

However, a number of proprietors have already put up their schools for sale because they don’t know when education institutions will be reopened following their indefinite closure in March, he said.

There are others whose businesses were already struggling before the outbreak of Covid-19, some reporting declining enrolment and the virus has escalated their plight.

Closure of schools Impacts also on Parents

For example, the director of Najjera Progressive School, Dr. Andrew Timothy Nsamba, has written to parents, asking them to relocate their children to other schools. He said it has become unsustainable to run the school.

“After a critical analysis of the future of the school business, the directors have resolved to close it. The main drive for the closure is the dwindling population every year coupled with increasing risks of running the school,” Dr. Nsamba wrote on July 2.

Earlier, he had written to their staff to vacate the school houses by the end of October.

“We regret to inform you that we will be ending your term of employment with us as of July 30. All employees occupying school-owned houses may vacate not later than October 30,” Dr. Nsamba said in his June 22 letter to staff.

While they promised to take their candidates to the end, the rest of the pupils were requested to join the neighboring Tropical Primary School, after the former signed a memorandum of understanding to enable their learners to continue studies.

The pupils, according to Tropical Primary School director, Mr. Henry Mukasa will not be subjected to interviews once schools reopen.

Government Attempts to Provide Solution

Asked whether the closure was a result of Covid-19, Dr. Nsamba said: “We had this thought for some time. We have been redundant in this Covid-19 period and had the time to critically think about this. We are winding up.”

Ms. Ketty Lamaro, the Ministry of Education undersecretary, said the relevant authorities are handling the private schools’ concerns.

“We received the petition from government-aided and private institutions about their concerns and have forwarded them to the relevant offices for action,” Ms. Lamaro said yesterday.

President Museveni last month tasked ministries of Education and Gender to register businesses that were affected by the lockdown, including salon operators, private universities, secondary and primary schools, so that they can be helped. However, a month later, the stakeholders in the private sector have been seeking to have a discussion with the political leadership in vain.

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