MPs advise Ministry of Education to cancel academic year
Members of the National Economy committee of Parliament have called for the cancellation of the 2020 academic year. The call comes close to four months after the closure of schools and other educational institutions as one of the measures to control the spread of coronavirus disease.
According to MPs, it is not feasible to re-open schools for the continuation of the academic year amidst the burden of Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) that were put in place to tame the virus. Committee chairperson Hajjati Syda Bbumba noted that the procedures would put an enormous strain on the finances of schools forcing most of them to close.
The committee was meeting the State Minister for Higher Education John Chrysostom Muyingo to discuss the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the education and sports sector.
Ayivu county MP Bernard Atiku castigated the ministry for keeping the nation on tenterhooks on the closure of schools. He added that it would be ideal to declare a dead year for schools considering that it is impossible to proceed under the current circumstances.
The director of basic and secondary education Ismael Mulindwa told MPs that the schools would reopen in phases starting with candidate classes as soon as the ministry observes how learning can be allowed to continue under the new SOPs.
His statement however contradicted an observation by the Commissioner for Education Planning and Policy Analysis Fredrick Matyama who observed that the cost of re-opening schools is above what the government can afford. According to Matyama, the government needs up to 78 trillion Shillings to enforce COVID-19 standard operating procedures in schools.
The MPs also called on the ministry to shelve the program for the distribution of learning materials saying it has no impact. This after the minister observed a need for a National Education Curriculum Policy that promotes a hybrid model combining institutional-based curriculum delivery with the online and home-based study.
He noted that it may be necessary to establish dedicated education radio and TV channels to carry education programmes sustainably.
However, Hon. Muyingo noted that the ministry was ready to declare schools open as long as the health ministry gives them a green light.