Kitgum Education Department Seeks 20,000 Face Masks For Learners

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.
some of the facemasks delivered to Kitgum District by Health Ministry being handed over to district leaders last week.

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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 for learners.

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.