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Schools Opt for Credit to Purchase Thermometer Guns, Food

Pader Acting District Education Officer Francis Olwoch told Uganda Radio Network in an interview that although schools in the district have been able to purchase the requirements especially thermometer guns and handwashing facilities, most obtained them through credit.
12 Oct 2020 18:28
A signage reminding entrants at Kitgum Public Primary school in Kitgum Municipality.

Audio 5

Several private and government-aided schools in Pader and Kitgum districts have opted for credit to purchase essential equipment to meet requirements for the impending re-opening. Educational institutions will be opened this week, Thursday, for candidates and finalists after more than seven months of inactivity.

But before they reopen, they are required to have infrared thermometer guns, adequate handwashing facilities and guarantee a spacious learning environment to curb the spread of Coronavirus Disease-COVID-19.

Pader Acting District Education Officer Francis Olwoch told Uganda Radio Network in an interview that although schools in the district have been able to purchase the requirements especially thermometer guns and handwashing facilities, most obtained them through credit.

Olwoch says that most of the schools are financially struggling and with the high cost of the infrared thermometer guns, the schools opted for credit hoping to pay when the government releases money or use proceeds from school fees payment from students.  In the open market, infrared thermometer guns’ costs between 150,000 Shillings to 300,000 Shillings.

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Olwoch says the education department officials along with the district COVID-19 taskforce have conducted assessments on three-quarters of primary and secondary schools in the district and found them fit for reopening.

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Pader District has 114 primary schools, which include, 107 government-aided and seven private primary schools, nine secondary schools, six of which are government aided and three are private.

Doreen Acan, the Headteacher of Kitgum Public Primary School in Kitgum Municipality says lack of financial resources has forced them to acquire thermometer guns, sanitizers and handwashing equipment’s on credit. She says the school is hoping to repay the supplier when the government gives them access to capitation grants.

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Prisca Berna Atim, the Head Teacher of Pader Girls Secondary school, a private aided school says although they have been able to put in place the requirements for reopening the school, facilitating teachers’ pay is their biggest worry. She says the school is financially handicapped having been closed for the past six months with a running loan for a school bus recently purchased.

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Atim notes that they expensively purchased three infrared Thermometer guns at 750,000 Shillings adding that the high cost has since affected their budget for foot press hand washing facilities.

Gladys Oyat, the headteacher of YY Okot Memorial College, a government-aided school says they intend to purchase food for the candidates on credit since they don’t have money. A total of 220 students in O’level and advanced level will be expected to return to school by Thursday according to Oyat.

She says the financial challenge has also seen them reduce on the numbers of teachers paid through PTA contributions to seven from 14 citing that they will now receive only half their payments.

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Kitgum District Education Officer Fred Owot said he couldn't comment on the matter at the time. However, in a separate interview, Owot acknowledged that several government schools are in financial crisis citing that they only have 300,000 Shillings on the accounts which were sent by the government in the first quarter under capitation grant.