NIRA scales up mass registration of learners to beat deadline for school reopening

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In a bid to beat the school reopening deadline set for next month, the National Identification and Registration Authority (NIRA) has scaled up operations around the country in a bid to register learners.

Exam body UNEB and NIRA early this week announced a mass registration exercise for learners to acquire national identification numbers (NINs) ahead of the school reopening program.

Speaking to journalists on Saturday, Edwin Tukamuhebwa, the manager registration and operation at NIRA explained that with the February,6 date for school reopening drawing closer, they have set up registration desks at Boma grounds across major districts and cities in the country for the exercise.

“This activity is specifically meant to register students including those who have ever registered but don’t have NINs. Our district offices are open and will always be open even on weekends to serve students. For the 10 new cities, we have put our teams at the Boma grounds since our offices may not be enough to accommodate the crowd,” Tukamuhebwa said.

The NIRA official explained that the registration will go on at Masaka liberation grounds, Jinja Public Primary School and the Boma grounds in Mbarara Arua ,Gulu, Lira ,Soroti , Mbale, Hoima, and Fort Portal cities.

Special status for Kampala

According to NIRA, for Kampala has been granted a special status where all offices at the five divisions will be located at Kololo independence grounds to handle the big number of learners expected to attend the registration exercise.

“For all the divisions in Kampala, we are at the NIRA headquarters at Kololo Airstrip since here we have enough space to sit for students and adults who accompany them.”

NIRA says that apart from registering learners and issue them with NINs, the mass registration exercise for learners is meant to issue NINs to learners who are already registered but also those who have turned 16 years of age and are capable of getting national IDs.

“The law says a national ID can be held by anyone who is above the age of 16 and here we are issuing NINs but also update the records of these learners who have turned 16 so as to be issued with national IDs. Also, those who have registered at all are being registered for purposes of issuing them with national IDs and NINs,” the NIRA manager in charge of registration and operation says.

In 2017, NIRA registered leaners in secondary schools around the country with an aim of issuing them with NINs but also national IDs for those eligible.

With the new exercise, some members of the public have asked for the rationale for the new mass registration exercise done by NIRA which many say is a repeat of what was done six years ago.

Commenting about the matter, the NIRA manager in charge of registration and operation says the current exercise is something new.

“Most of those who registered in 2017 didn’t get their NINs and one of the activities we are doing is issuing them with NINs. Most of the learners registered in 2017 were below the age of 16 but many of them have now turned 16 and eligible to get national IDs, this is an opportunity to have their information updated for purposes of giving then NINs and national IDs,” Edwin Tukamuhebwa says.

“We are also registering those who have never registered. Some students have remained unregistered and this is an opportunity for them to register. We want to ensure that as learners return to school, they have their NINs.”

Requirements for registration

Tukamuhebwa says to complete the exercise, a learner needs a photocopy of one of their parents national ID and that if both parents are deceased, their relatives should provide recommendation letters indicating the type of relation with the child and a copy of their national IDs.

“If both parents have national IDs, let the learner come with both copies but where only one has, one copy is enough,” he says.

At the registration centres, the learners will be given and required to fill a NIRA enrollment/registration form but according to officials, it would be better if learners are escorted by their parents who would be able to give the most accurate information.

“Even those who are not students but want to be registered are also welcome and will be served.”

The NIRA manager for registration and operations explains that for students who have attained the age of 16 and already have NINs, the registration body doesn’t   require anything from them since their information is in the system.

Tukamuhebwa however says these are only required to appear for updating their face and biometrics and then get national IDs.

NIRA says Ugandans who have registered for national IDs or NINs can easily track the progress of the process through an SSD code *216 # and follow prompts but can also visit the NIRA website.

He says every applicant should have a telephone number to which they can receive feedback on the process from NIRA after the registration.

“We decided to do this exercise during the holidays when learners are at home, relaxed and not under the pressure of academics. This mass registration exercise will end when students return to school but registration will continue as we move to schools to give learners the services from there.”

Tukamuhebwa however advises that learners register and get NINs before they return to school.

“It is important for children to have NINs since the law mandates NIRA to register every citizen, irrespective of their age and issue them with NINs. A NIN is a proof of legal identity but also helps in accessing several services.”

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