Education and Covid-19 Symposium: Govt. Pledges Support to Schools


The Ministry of Education and Sports is to offer some interventions to schools ahead of their re-opening in 2022.  The Minister, in her speech delivered by the Chairperson of the Makerere University Council, Mrs. Lorna Magara, said the ministry would repair schools, review the school curriculum for recovery of lost time, orientation of teachers and students, promotion of safe and healthy learning environments through psychosocial support. The government also pledged to provide additional infrastructure to cater for the increased enrolment at primary one.

The Minister, Hon. Janet Museveni, was speaking during the opening of the symposium on Education and Covid-19.  The symposium was organized by the College of Education and External Studies (CEES) in partnership the Ministry of Education and other development partners.

The symposium is the first of its kind to bring together major stakeholders in the education sector to deliberate on the impact of Covid-19 on education and come up with strategies that would take us through the pandemic and beyond. The outcomes of the discussions will result in the formation of a National Participatory Consolidated Plan of Action on Covid-19 and Education.

The First Lady in her speech noted that while people were anxious about the prolonged closure of schools, the risk associated with the hurried reopening especially of pre-primary, primary and secondary schools outweigh the benefits. Mr. Timothy Ssejjoba from the Ministry of Education said the Ministry was training school head teachers to prepare them for opening and ensuring they have enough information on Covid-19 and how to help the students. Mr. Ssejjoba said the Ministry may not completely do away with Distance and e-learning among schools until we have completely done away with the pandemic. This he said is to ensure safety of students.

Makerere University on its part has heavily invested in e-learning infrastructure. Ms. Magara said “the university council has strongly supported initiatives for building the adaptability of university systems and processes to the challenges presented by Covid-19.”

The university recently successfully held it first online examinations. It is envisioned that this mode of examination will continue amidst the pandemic. The Vice Chancellor, Prof. Barnabas Nawangwe, thanked the government for its continued support towards e-learning infrastructure especially though funding to the Research and Innovations fund of the university.

Participants called on the government to invest in teacher education because the quality of education depends on the quality of its teachers. “No country can develop when its education system is limping,” Dr. Mathias Mulumba, the Dean of the School of Education said. “The quality of a country’s education system determines the pace at which other sectors such as health, technology and others develop.”

The occasion was also graced by the Ambassador of Ireland, H.E Kevin Colgan. He thanked  Makerere University and the Ministry of Education for organizing the symposium which gives people an opportunity to brainstorm on how to better the education system, address psychosocial impacts of the pandemic and school dropouts. He noted that there was an increase in teenage pregnancies and cautioned that we all must do more to realise the universal right to education. 

The Principal of CEES, represented by Dr. Okot Alex, called on staff of  Makerere University to play a pivotal role in training the human resource of the country. “Covid-19 has forced us to prepare for the unknown. We want to prepare our educators to be ready to manage the unknown,” Dr. Okot said. The principal called for collaboration, saying we don’t need to reinvent the wheel, sometimes we just have to collaborate and find solutions to community challenges.

The principal informed participants that CEES had established a good distance and e-learning platform to spearhead alternative modes of teaching. The Institute of Distance and e-learning has developed MUELE, on online teaching and learning platform that the university fully embraced during the pandemic.

He appreciated the management of the university for the support given to the college and the Ministry of Education and Sports for the support given during the planning and execution of the symposium.

The symposium was supported by the Embassy of Ireland, UNICEF, Uwezo, Action, CRANE and Link Partners among others.

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