At least 200 private schools will not reopen in October due to accumulated rent arrears in the last six months, according to the private schools proprietors association.
Mr Hassadu Kirabira, the National Private Educational Institutions Association (NPEIA) Kampala representative, yesterday said they had not received any official government communication outlining the new roadmap for the reopening or what is expected of them when schools resume on October 15.
“As we talk, we haven’t received [any]standard operating procedures (SOPs). What we have hasn’t been verified by the ministry to be used by schools. We need the ministry to authenticate them for use. Schools are only working on rumours,” Mr Kirabira told Daily Monitor yesterday.
He added: “We are also praying if government can give schools a recovery package. It will work out for some schools that seem not to be in good economic position to facilitate SOPs. There are some schools which are out of business. Others are yet to decide.
“There are international and local schools, which have agreed they will not manage, especially those in rented premises. We are still documenting. More than 200 schools as of last week had issues of rent and are not going to open. We are studying it to see whether they can get rescue.”
State minister for Higher Education Chrysostom Muyingo yesterday told Parliament that private schools, that cannot meet the SOPs will not reopen.
In his submission, Dr Muyingo said while they will provide masks to all candidates, government does not have money to bail out private schools in implementing the SOPs.
He, however, said government will buy washing facilities, temperature guns, spray pumps and disinfectants for the public schools using capitation grants. There will also be inspection of all schools before the term begins.
“Proprietors of private schools shall be required to have matching quantities of the facilities before the schools are allowed to reopen,” Dr Muyingo said.
For universities and other tertiary institutions, Dr Muyingo said they will apply for clearance from National Council for Higher Education to conduct online studies for continuing students.
But Members of Parliament (MPs) wondered why his statement lacked the new school roadmap and why he had not included proposals from the House’ Education Committee.
The MPs were concerned about management of Covid-19 cases if they arose in schools, the tuition fees and who would meet the cost of testing in case of infections.
They also queried why private schools had not been supported and why government would not postpone the reopening to next year since the academic year has less than two months to close.
They also inquired why it has taken long for government to supply radios and television sets to households as earlier promised in order to aid home schooling.
The MPs were concerned that until yesterday, they had not been consulted on the reopening and warned that there was no online learning taking place in most of their constituencies.
But Dr Muyingo urged them to support the government programme. He said: “We are operating in an abnormal situation. You don’t know when Covid-19 will come to an end. We consulted parents, Parliament and foundation bodies.
“We consulted all stakeholders. I wish I had the means… Finance (ministry) has said there is no money apart from money for masks, radios and study materials,” Mr Muyingo said.
However, the Education Committee vice chairperson, who is also the Bunyaruguru County MP, Mr John Twesigye, said they had not been consulted and wondered why their Tuesday proposals were not included in Mr Muyingo’s submission yesterday.
“He is not giving us a clear roadmap. We advised on a stimulus package, advised that online teaching wasn’t happening and that teachers be housed at school. The SOPs have not been addressed. I request that the minister withdraws the statement and incorporates the education committee proposals and return with a clear plan,” Mr Twesigye said.