Uganda: Govt Fully Reopens Education Sector, All Learners Automatically Promoted

Two years since schools closed due to the Covid-19 outbreak, the ministry of Education and Sports has cleared all learners in nursery, primary, and secondary to report back to school on January 10, 2022.

In the new calendar, all schools will operate normally without limitations on the number of students in classes. However, for primary one, schools have been tasked to admit only learners that are at least six years of age.

The first term shall operate for 14 weeks from January 10, 2022, to April 15, 2022, with a holiday of three weeks. Second term will also open for 14 weeks from May 9, 2022, to August 19, 2022. Third term shall start on September 5, 2022, and end on December 9, 2022, followed by a holiday break of seven weeks until January 29, 2023. In total, children will study for 42 weeks with only 13 weeks of holiday breaks.

This full reopening of the education sector was announced today by Education minister Janet Museveni while closing the 28th annual Education, Sports, and Skills review workshop at Kololo Independence grounds. Ms Museveni said all learners have also been automatically promoted to the next classes without subjecting them to any examinations as had been earlier planned.

“Remedial lessons shall be provided for these learners [in their new classes] during first term 2022 to help them cover critical content for the previous class although some were beneficiaries of home-study materials,” she said.

For the end-of-cycle examinations to be conducted in 2022, the Uganda National Examinations Board (UNEB) shall release its calendar of registering candidates now that the school re-opening calendar has been defined.

As schools reopen, Ms Museveni urged teachers to ensure that there’s authentic learning which involves a relatively modern approach, characterized by real-world tasks targeting essential skills such as critical thinking, creative problem-solving, innovation, communication and collaboration.

“Uganda’s education system could experience a turning point…Many great changes and innovations are born in times of crisis. The crisis we are experiencing should bring much-needed change to our education system. So, I call upon all of us, policymakers, teachers, all stakeholders, let it not be business as usual,” Ms Museveni said.

She added that this is not a time to make children cram as much as they can, but rather enable them to learn while taking special interest in each child’s unique abilities.

“The nation is anxiously waiting, many have questions, doubts and fears regarding the education of our children. I am confident that God is able to restore everything, and I mean everything. He will give us the ability to rebuild the ruins and devastations caused by the pandemic,” she said.

Since the first Covid-19 national lockdown of March 2020, over 15 million learners have had their in-person attendance of school for learning interrupted in one way or another.

NO FEES INCREMENTS

Although private schools charge school fees for the smooth running of schools, Ms Museveni said the ministry is against the arbitrary increase of school charges.

“Schools should be mindful that these learners are coming from families that have also been facing a tough time just as much as the schools have been. We have guided before that upon re-opening; even as it were after the first lockdown, parents should not be asked to pay higher school fees than what they were paying before school closures,” she said.

She cited what she referred to as a ‘unique situation’ of where the S.2 learners of 2020 that reported to study for less than two weeks before schools were closed again for the second Covid-19 national lockdown.

Ms Museveni insisted that for S.2 learners who had fully paid up school fees, all schools should not charge them for first term 2022 fees when they report in their former schools for the new academic year.

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