KAMPALA: Government through the Ministry of Education and Sports has ordered schools not to increase fees from what was charged for first term before schools were ordered to closes during the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic in March last year.
The Ministry’s Permanent Secretary Alex Kakooza issued the warning on Wednesday while addressing the media at the Uganda Media Center in Kampala.
“Education institutions shall not increase fees from what was charged for first term 2020,” he said.
The order comes just 2 days after learners of semi candidate classes of P6, S.3 and S.5 reported back to school nearly after a year at home.
The Government closed all education institutions in March 2020 in a bid to counter the spread of COVID-19 pandemic.
Following the school reopening for semi candidate classes on Monday and candidates who have been at school for a few months now, there have been reports that schools are demanding parents to pay school fees for first term of 2020, which learners didn’t complete due to closure.
However, Kakooza ordered schools to engage parents and guardians on flexible ways of paying fees.
“Education institutions shall engage parents/guardians to adopt flexible fees payment arrangements and allow payment in appropriate instalments,” Kakooza said.
“During this Covid-19 emergency period, schools should avoid implementing major infrastructure development and asset acquisition budgets that are funded from parents’ contributions,” Kakooza added.
Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs).
Following the decision to gradually allow other classes report back in a phased manner, and based on the lessons learnt from implementation of the SOPs in schools, the Ministry of Health has accordingly updated the SOPs.
These updated guidelines are, therefore, being issued to guide education institutions effectively implement the revised SOPs and the strategies for recovery of lost time.
Kakooza announced that the SOP’s have largely remained the same but added that “a critical addition to the revised guidelines is the section on Covid-19 surveillance in education institutions, which is intended to help monitor illness symptoms to ensure early detection of outbreaks of Covid-19 and provide measures to prevent transmission of disease. All education institutions in Uganda are required to adhere to the requirements of the SOPs.”
Special schools for learners with special needs, Kakooza said, may open and operate for all classes provided they have the capacity to adhere to the recommended social distancing.
A school categorized officially as “Day and Boarding” may operate as such, subject to a compliance certification from DES, or may opt to operate as “Day schools” and not Boarding as the new arrangement only.
A school operating as “Day and Boarding” shall make arrangements to ensure that the two categories of learners do not interact physically.
Strategies to Recover Lost Time
On how schools will recover lost time, Kakooza said that all the essential curriculum content shall be recovered over the period of the education cycles i.e. lower primary, upper primary, lower secondary and upper secondary.
“Curriculum delivery is sequential, cumulative, spiral and concentric; therefore, curriculum coverage should not be restricted to a particular class in an education cycle,” he said.
To ensure effective recovery of lost learning time, Ministry of Education will implement the following strategies:
- Reorganization of the sequencing of the curriculum content such that work which cannot be covered in the current class is pushed to the next class(s).
- Hybrid curriculum implementation which shall include distribution of self study materials to the learners, Lesson broadcasts on radio and TV.
- Upload of published audio and audio-visual learning materials on the Ministry Website.
- Exploring the possibility of dedicated Education Media Channels.
The Ministry also sounded explained that do not employ a qualified and dedicated health worker are advised to establish a formal collaboration with a health facility within a radius of 5kms for quick response and management of emerging health issues.
Each education institution shall work closely with the district Covid-19 taskforce to organize basic training for its staff on management of Covid-19.
Institutions shall build staff awareness and knowledge on Covid-19 safety measures through regular sharing of accurate information and literature.