Fred Owot, the Kitgum District Education Officer says the Ministry of Education had promised to provide all finalist and candidates with two free facemasks before schools reopen but failed to deliver them.
Kitgum Education Department has asked the district COVID-19
taskforce to preserve at least 20,000 face masks for learners ahead of reopening
of schools for candidates and finalists next week.
The call comes as the district starts distributing free facemasks to more than
100,000 locals on Tuesday. 177,340 face masks were delivered last week by the
Health Ministry in fulfillment of government’s pledge to deliver facemasks to
border districts to fight the spread of coronavirus.
Fred Owot, the Kitgum District Education Officer says the Ministry of Education
had promised to provide all finalist and candidates with two free face masks
before schools reopen but failed to deliver them.
He says with just a few days left to reopen the schools, the district taskforce
should consider preserving 20,000 face masks for learners.
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There are an estimated 8,000 candidates and final year learners in primary,
secondary and higher learning institutions in Kitgum district, according to
records from the education department.
However, Owot says the numbers are likely to increase to 10,000 as they
anticipate some students and pupils who may be unable to travel back to their former
schools due to COVID-19 to sit for their final exams from Kitgum.
Owot says despite the government’s commitments to reopen schools on October 15,
more challenges await the respective learning institutions due to limited
financial resources to fully implement standard operating procedures.
For instance, Owot says, all the schools are expected to utilize shillings
300,000 capitation grants they received in the first quarter for preparation in
reopening of schools which is insufficient.
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David Aisu, the District Internal Security Officer who chaired a
task force meeting on behalf of the Resident District Commissioner on Friday
last week however says there was no need to secure 20,000 facemasks separately
Aisu says the facemasks were going to be distributed to every household in the
district from where the learners would benefit along with their families.
"Regarding the masks that the district received, the committee suggested that
considering that these children come from the same community as the data we
obtained, it would be unwise to treat students differently from their
families…,” Aisu told the Taskforce committee.
At least 88 primary schools and seven secondary schools within Kitgum District
have been assessed by the district education committee on their preparedness in
implementing the SOPs as candidates resume classes next week.
Last week, the Ministry of Education issued out comprehensive guidelines to
guide reopening of schools and higher institutions of learning on October 15th
with a strong emphasis on implementation of standard operating procedures to
curtail risks of COVID-19 spread among learners.