Mukasa Sirajeh Katantazi
There has been a letter making rounds on social media about government’s plan to ease the lockdown through a phased approach.
Unlike my previous articles which were based on verifiable research, I will use this article to offer my opinion on what ought to be put in place before the lockdown is lifted.
First things first, Uganda announced a lockdown to try to contain the spread of C19. Whereas this was the right move, the manner in which it was done was sporadic with directives being issued on a situational analysis basis.
For example, at one time Boda-boda riders were ordered off the roads by 2:00 p.m only to be told later that it’s okay for them to go up to 5:00 p.m. I really hope that reopening will be more structured and systematic.
It would be foolhardy to discuss every aspect of our social life in a short article like this but let me use one example to illustrate.
The most pressing issue on most people’s minds is the reopening of schools. Whether this is premised on the stress that parents have endured during the lockdown or not is another matter.
Normally, kids are at school and when they come back for holidays during the school break, they are left under the care of maids(read house helps) with parents only getting occasionally involved.
Some parents even take their children for holiday studies and only get involved when absolutely necessary. Alas, not under this lockdown; the kids have literally been in our hairs.
But government and school authorities must put in place certain amenities and safeguards before they are allowed to reopen.
(i) procuring digital thermometers to assess temperatures ( government should provide these).
(ii) Placing sanitizers or water and soap dispensers at all classroom entrances ( these are extra costs but necessary).
(iii) decongesting classrooms (in some schools as many as 3 kids sit on the same desk). This may require having half the students attending classes on alternate days or adopting a half day model whereby some students study in the morning and others in the afternoon.
(iv) spraying classrooms with disinfectants everyday (the ideal) or worst case scenario at least once a week.
(v) limiting contacts with external visitors.
(vi) measures to do away with crowding, say the kids could play and have their breaks in their classrooms ( this is a tough one especially for the young children but then again they have endured this “prison” for the last month or so).
The challenges are daunting and practically it’s likely to place an unimaginable strain on teachers and parents alike.
For example, a two shift arrangement would mean that teachers get allowances for the extra workload, parents will have to stay at home while the kids are at home (I don’t envision day-care centres opening for business soon) and endure daily emotional strain from worrying about whether their children have been exposed or not
Doesn’t this also call for restructuring of the syllabus to cut out non-essential elements and setting (temporary) new standards for achievement?
Assessment could also be done once at the end of the year to give a chance to covering more ground to recoup some lost time.
Afterall, the curriculum is pretty repetitive and same topics can be covered in higher classes.
The biggest challenge will be with candidates but this shouldn’t worry us much as most schools will have covered the bulk of the content in lower classes.
In any case, UNEB could scale down the areas of assessment.
I know that technocrats in different ministries are drawing up guidelines to inform the national roadmap to reopening and definitely it’s inconceivable for us to imagine that schools will operate normally but we need to move on.
Then there is the question of what will happen if there is a spike in the number of cases and how the government will react.
Whatever the outlook, the majority of us pray for easing of the restrictions so that we can get back to some semblance of normalcy.
Ps: Is it me or what? But ez’akameeza nga zigenda nnyo mu lockdown? Thank God for wives , how do they even manage?
Men, please add at least something now that you’ve also been involved in spending on house necessities ( oops feminists will go like “ I don’t need his money I can provide for myself”.
To them I say, you may die in your own movie).
Stay home, stay safe.