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Water Shortage Hampers Reopening of Schools in Omoro

The affected schools include ten Government aided Primary Schools and a privately owned Secondary School. They are Wii-Aceng Primary School in, Loyo Awic Primary School, Lubangaber Primary School, Lakwana Primary School and Graceland Girls' Secondary School.
Kiteny-Owalo Primary School - Photo by Dominic Ochola

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The acute water shortage in Omoro district is singled out as one of factors that may hinder the reopening of a number of schools.  

According to the ministry of education inspection guidelines, social distancing and availability of hand washing facilities with flowing water are the two major areas that inspectors are critically looking for.    

However, some schools are situated in areas with acute water problems. Authorities have confirmed that over eleven schools in Odek Sub-County will not be able to receive learners due to absence of water in the area.  

The affected schools include ten Government aided Primary Schools and a privately owned Secondary School. They are; Wii-Aceng Primary School in, Loyo Awic Primary School, Lubangaber Primary School, Lakwana Primary School and Graceland Girls' Secondary School.  

The District Education Officer, Rev. Vincent Oceng Ocen, says the affected schools won't be able to operate because their boreholes broke down while some don’t have boreholes which is essential for washing of hands to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

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In March 2020, the ministry of water and environment permanent secretary issued a circular to all water officers directing them to use the departmental sector grants for the 2019/2020 financial year to repair all broken boreholes.  

However, since then Omoro authorities have been hunting for one billion shillings to repair over 200 boreholes, but all in vain. Surprisingly, the ministry of water  ranks Omoro as one of the districts with a huge coverage of water.

George Oryang, the Director of Graceland Girls' Secondary School, explains that the government should have considered a collaborative approach by extending financial support to private schools that have been hit hard by the impacat of the pro-longed lockdown.    

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In preparation for reopening, Omoro education officials inspected a total of 109 schools out of which 44 of them are ready to reopen and have been issued certificates of compliance, while 64 including the 11 are still pending.    

Ben Otto Kasule, the Head teacher of Agung Secondary School in neighbouring Nwoya District says the school lacks adequate infrastructure ahead of reopening. Kasule revealed that the school has only four classroom blocks and a laboratory which would make social distancing rules impossible. 

Also, in the neighboring District of Gulu, education authorities are still conducting inspection of the schools to ensure compliance. Sunday Braxton Ojara, the Acting DEO says they are still inspecting the 84 both government and government aided schools.  

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Several parents have weighed in with mixed reactions towards the Government's move to allow schools resume without proper planning amid increased COVID-19 community transmissions in the country. Some parents implored the government to consider a dead year for all schools to enable proper and sustainable planning. 

The Government through the Ministry of Education and Sports has scheduled October 15 for candidate classes to resume studies across the country after six months of interruption caused by the global outbreak of COVID-19.  

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