Through its General Secretary, Filbert Baguma, UNATU noted that as the planned school reopening draws closer, the government needs to look at means of expanding the existing school infrastructure and recruit more teachers.
would be no need for social distancing when schools resume in November this
year and January 2022 as planned by the Education and Sports Ministry,
president, Yoweri Kaguta Museveni has revealed.
responding to concerns raised by the Uganda National Teachers Union-UNATU regarding
the government's preparations ahead of the scheduled reopening of education
institutions during celebrations to commemorate the International Teachers’ Day
held at Kololo ceremonial grounds on Tuesday afternoon.
its General Secretary, Filbert Baguma, UNATU noted that as the planned school
reopening draws closer, the government needs to look at means of expanding the
existing school infrastructure and recruit more teachers.
He explained that this
would help schools to manage learners
efficiently assuming that social distancing would require more spacing and subdivision of classes thus creating the need for human resource to suit the
recommended teacher-pupil ratio and workload.
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his response, President, Museveni said there is no room to worry about
increasing the number of classrooms and recruiting more teachers. Banking on the ongoing COVID-19 vaccination,
Museveni said that if their target of inoculating teachers and non-teaching
staff among other categories listed some of the SOPS for schools, particularly
social distancing would be revised.
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Social distancing is one of the measures put in
place by the Health Ministry to contain the spread of COVID19 in schools and
educational institutions. According to the SOPs, learners were required to sit
at least two meters apart, which limited space in many schools. Prior to the
COVID-19 pandemic, there was already a challenge of crowding in classrooms with
some hosting as many as 70 and 100 learners.
To deal with the problem during the pandemic, the
government adopted the staggering approach where a selected group of learners
would attend school and occupy all the available space before another group
could come in. However,
the staggered approach also failed with clusters of COVID19 cases recorded in
many schools triggering the second school closure in June this year.
From her view, the
Education Minister, Janet Kataha Museveni noted that even without COVID-19,
there has been a need to recruit more teachers. She noted that they have
already discussed the issue in the ministry and engaged their finance
counterparts to resolve the problem.
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Apart from expanding the existing school
infrastructure and recruiting more teachers, UNATU has also been suggesting
that the Education Ministry invests in research during the pre-reopening
phase, the resumption and the post-reopening.
Baguma says research would help the ministry to
make decisions based on scientific evidence rather than guesswork to avoid the
trial and error approaches that might create setbacks. Conversely, the teacher’s
union also called for better financing of the education sector at the time of
They also called for the timely disbursement of government grants to
educational institutions and warned against budget cuts to the sector. Baguma
implored the government that as the school reopening nears; this would be the
right time to release funds to schools to pave way for their rehabilitation to
reduce the pressure on headteachers.
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The president disagreed with UNATU’s proposals
on increasing funding and avoiding budget cuts to the education sector noting
that there might not be enough funds to facilitate UNATU’s prayers more so when
there are competing demands that are equally important and also supplementing
the education sector.
The Teacher’s day is an annual event observed on
October 5 but Uganda postponed the celebrations because the president who had
confirmed to be chief guest was out of the country on official duty.