Several primary school head teachers in Kampala are opposed to the staggered way of reopening as proposed by the government for safe reopening that calls for having two learning shifts per day or having alternate days for the learners.
Several primary school head teachers in Kampala
are opposed to the staggered way of reopening that calls for having two learning shifts per day or having
alternate days for the learners, as proposed by the government for safety of the learners.
Government is planning for the reopening of schools
since the second closure that started in the month of June 2021 after
several cases were discovered in schools that were already operating in a
According to the education ministry, staggered means that in
a school learners can report on alternate days in the week or have double
shifts in a day. This is meanty to ensure that schools with high enrollment also follow the social
distancing SOP of maintaining the two meters if they cannot put up temporary
Although the head teachers agree that it is important to decongest the learners
through social distancing, they differ on some of the methods in which the
government proposes to manage it.
Thomas Kisolo Kitandwe, the head teacher Kampala Quality Primary School with a
population of 1,185, says making the primary learners report in two shifts a day
may be a challenge to both the school, learners and the parents.
He explains that this will be a new experience for the primary level and given
the age that they deal with they have always known how to handle different
subjects at a given time of the day.
He says there some subjects that requires the learners at a primary age
to be taught in the morning and now making it afternoon will be burden to both
the teacher and the learners.
About the alternation of days in a week for the different classes to report he
says that unless the ministry decongest the curriculum this cannot help.
//cue in;’’Those children…
Cue out…be taught at all ‘’//
He also observes that many learners at primary level in the urban setting are
usually dropped by parents on their way to work and in case a parent has two or
more children at this same level, this will also require such a parent to have
more than two shifts in a day of dropping and picking the children.
Kitandwe says that he has fears that this arrangement will contribute to
absenteeism from school as parents might find it difficult to manage the intervals.
//cue in;’’Waliwo byetugamba …
Cue out…ndaba kijakuzitowa’’//
He points out that putting up temporary structures will be more practical
but this cannot be possible because of the financial constraints some schools
are going through .
He however, recommends that the government concentrate on vaccinating all
eligible groups of people and reopen schools fully.
//cue in; ’Putting up temporary…
Cue out…operating fully’’//
Richard Abura, the deputy head teacher Nakasero primary school with a
population of 2,221, says the arrangement of having
shifts or alternate days of studying at primary level will need proper planning
in order to have the intended impact.
Abura observes that with phased and staggered reopening, it might be hard if
the turn to report is for the lower primary.
He says schools will find it hard to make learners at that age report in the
afternoon because of the concentration levels and yet they have to catch up
with the time lost. Similarly on the issue of the nature of learners they have,
he says it will be difficult for the parents who normally drop their children
in the morning as they head to work.
‘’What we need now is the lower classes who have not been to class since the
first lockdown and if we are to make them stager then it calls for proper
planning,‘’ says Abura
Joseph Okedi the Director of Studies St Peters Primary school Nsambya says as a
school they can take on this option if it is the only option for the safe
He notes that the education system has been set that the lower primary pupils
are always released at lunch time and making them again report in the afternoon
may worsen the situation instead.
Okedi also observes that parents who come from a distance and have to drop
their children as they go to work may be inconvenienced especially those with
more than one child.
//cue in;’ ’There those who …
Cue out … very operational ‘’//
Rogers Kakaire, the head teacher of Yudesi primary school, says the government
should rethink its position on the phased and staggered reopening proposal.
He says the proposal can work better for the learners in secondary and in
tertiary learning institutions but not the primary level as their concentration
is always low in the afternoon, mainly the lower primary.
//cue in;’’The shifts …
Cue out…always not okay’’//
Due to the pandemic that led to the lockdown of the country and closure of
schools, government came up with Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs). These were introduced into schools for reopening after the first lockdown and
key among them was putting on masks, hand washing and social distancing.
But other measures were proposed specifically for schools to operate
safely and these included phased and staggered reopening, operating day or
boarding and measuring temperature of learners both in the morning and evening.