By Adam Nuwamanya
The Covid-19 ordeal marked its genesis on 20 March, 2020 when schools and all other tertiary institutions of learning were ordered to make a full use of their padlocks until further notice.
From then, the 17 million population and its enlightenment catalysts (teachers and lecturers) have found the worst nightmare of their life time.
The pandemic has since then rendered the noble profession a cry of agony for especially those categories whose handsets do not vibrate an EFT Order message at every end of month from government.
To a few, it has been a blessing in disguise but to the majority, like 75% of those employed by private institutions, saying that they have suffered would be an understatement – the reality is, they have “died”.
Due to such an ordeal, some have been forced to ‘think outside the box’ and ignore or put less attention on the noble profession.
They have resorted to options bricklaying, riding motorcycles, working as security guards and what once appeared in some print media that some were employed by motorcyclists to write passengers’ names for them, when there was a presidential directive on that.
Sincerely, being an instructor in anyway that you are formally employed, has lost trust and commitment from its actors. What should be the government’s basic priority if it is not education?
Economics believes in a doctrine that every society is as rich as its education system.
This pandemic has created a room for silent impediments that by the time government will be discovering them, the situation will be totally irreversible!
Look at the rate in which teachers and instructors are losing morale. Students and learners themselves, one can note the degree of school drop out that has come to its climax nowadays, where is the current young generation heading to?
I believe that government has the capacity to vaccinate all students and teachers in Government aided schools especially those which are earmarked for UPE and USE.
Then, if a parent has the capacity to take a child to St. Lawrence Schools or Kampala Parents, that parent still has the capacity to vaccinate their child.
But, closing institutions is seriously destroying the school mentality of the young generation. The government would have prioritised schools first because they are nowadays, the guardians of children’s 70% of their lifetime.
Otherwise, the unnoticed fact that government is not seeing is that children are overgrowing in age, they are highly maturing physically, and given by their parents’ struggles for survival, they have no one to watch over them, hence lack parental guidance.
The mind of a young girl in P.7, S.1 up to S.4 is so gullible that it is easily enticed by something that can make them think being in school is a wastage of time. A young boy of that age, once he bets or gambles and earns 200,000/= in one day, will accept nothing to convince them that being in school for the rest of 6 or so years will give them a bright future.
If I was government, I would not again close schools but I would put strategies on how children can remain in school safe but beat the deadly pandemic.
The minister of Education and Sports together with the UNEB crew recently released PLE results, and, we speculate that UCE results will be out soon. That means, there is now a pure green S.1.
Yet, those who have been in the same class have a lot of discrepancy in what was supposed to be covered. The incoming S.5 will also find the current class occupants almost like them because too little had been covered.
Also, most teachers have totally lost morale, they have misconceived the situation as uncertain. Parents are totally devastated because they think schools are cheating them.
So, where is the system heading to?
Issues of gender based violence will not stop until schools embark on their role of full-time parenting of children otherwise, parents have no time as their concentration is ever on working to repay that loan that was used to pay school dues for a child who is now home seated!
I therefore implore government to prioritise mass vaccination for all institution going categories and allow them operate under strict supervision.
The newfangled profound obstacle in Uganda’s education system is low supervision and monitoring.
For the sixteen years I spent in school, I had never seen a DEO or a DIS coming even to us, learners, to ask us about what was going on.
May be some people could come, you could see them smiling with the headteacher on the school compound and next Monday on the assembly, the headteacher could tell you, that was an inspector.
Lastly, the poor pay received by government teachers and the exploitation of teachers in private institutions will not help the enlightenment fraternity to fight the deadly pandemic.
There is very little motivation. It has been currently seen when a teacher could be told that the pay has been cut, say, to half of 400k yet students’ fees and work load was increased.
This will perpetuate the doctrine by cunning that “everybody for himself and God for us all”.
Now, with that, shall we be aiming at fighting the pandemic?
The government has to crack a rib on how funds are swindled by the accounting officers for transparency and beautifying the system.
Therefore, once this writing is paid attention to, some silent impediments in the lower education sector will be neutralised and one will make the school community a home away from a home with less, or no cases of the deadly pandemic.
For God and my country.
The author is a teacher and a Prospective Journalist.