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Luweero Pupils Abandon Virtual Classes for Street Vending

A Primary Six Pupil at Arise and Shine Primary School who was found vending brooms in Luweero town council on Friday said that her mother is among those whose businesses were closed over the COVID 19 pandemic leaving them with no source of livelihood. He explained that as result, he was directed to vend brooms to get money to look after the family and save for fees.

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Several pupils have resorted to vending fruits and farm produce in town councils in Luweero district. 

The children have been out of schools since March 20, when all educational institutions were closed to contain the spread of coronavirus disease. The measure left up to 15 million learners stranded in homes across the country. 

In the aftermath, the government developed an Education Response Plan to enable the continuity of learning during the COVID-19 lockdown. According to the plan, learners are now taught through a series of virtual platforms, among them, radio and television stations. 

There are 38 radio and television stations approved by Ministry of Education to conduct the lessons which often run from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. every weekday. But it is during the same time that children are seen wandering on the streets in Wobulenzi, Bombo and Luweero town councils, searching for buyers for various products like tomatoes, onions, silverfish, sweet bananas, boiled eggs, maize, brooms and fruits, among others.  

A Primary Six Pupil at Arise and Shine Primary School who was found vending brooms in Luweero town council on Friday said that her mother is among those whose businesses were closed over the COVID 19 pandemic leaving them with no source of livelihood. He explained that as result, he was directed to vend brooms to get money to look after the family and save for fees. 

He told URN that he had hoped to use the printed self-study material to learn, but his hope faded when the local councils’ leaders asked them to pay 5000 shillings for the photocopy of the materials. 

A Senior four student at Karoke Christian High School said he abandoned lessons on TV because the learning environment at home was not conducive. He said that as a result, he resorted to vending to get some money while waiting for the reopening of schools.

//Cue in; “Mba ndi kutambuza… 

Cue out…ebimu.”// 

Other learners said they had no Televisions or Radio sets at home and cannot, therefore, follow the lessons. 

Justine Namukwaya, a resident of Kikubajinja zone in Luweero town says that she stopped her children from following the TV lessons after they complained that they were not able to comprehend what was being taught by the teachers. Namukwaya says that she resolved to send them to vend tomatoes so that they can get some money to look after themselves and save for school fees. 

//Cue in; “Abasomesa banguwa…  

Cue out…ku TV.”// 

Vincent Mbooma, another resident of Kasoma zone in Luweero town says that the plan is not applicable to learners in rural areas and asked government to re-open schools as long as they observe Standard Operating Procedures. Mbooma is worried that the COVID-19 lockdown may force many learners, especially girls, to drop out of school. 

Paul Mukungu, the LC III Chairperson of Luweero Town Council says that over 1,000 learners are estimated to be involved in street vending at the moment. He equally fears that many may not return to school if they get addicted to petty jobs.   

Cue in; “After the pandemic… 

Cue out…o media.”//      

Luganda// Cue in; “Obwavu kati..  

Cue out…kuminemu.”//   

Luweero District Secretary for Education Zenar Nasur says that although they condemn street vending, they have nothing to do for now to stop the children. Nasur says that the lessons via media have proved unpractical and they are appealing to President Yoweri Museveni to consider re-opening the schools to save learners from other related challenges as they keep home.  

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