The Ministry of Education and Sports has made tentative adjustments in the school calendar to enable learners to complete their respective syllabi before being promoted to the next classes.
The adjustment came days after the government announced a 42-day closure of schools, to control COVID-19 infections in the face of a second wave of the pandemic. Under the new arrangement, the lower primary classes that were scheduled to return to school on Monday, June 7, will now report on July 19, 2021, alongside the Senior One class.
According to the new schedule, the said group of learners will study for six and half weeks and break off on September 3, 2021, while the senior two students will also report on the same day but break off earlier on August 13. After completing the 2020 academic year, the ministry has set September 20, 2021, as the new date for the beginning of the 2021 academic year. Previously, the new academic year was supposed to begin on August 9.
Alex Kakooza, the education ministry permanent secretary, says adjustments have been made to ensure that all learners complete the the revised school calendar for the academic year 2020 before being promoted to the next class. “…the academic year 2020 will be completed and all learners, who will have attended classes as per the official revised calendar will be promoted,” the circular reads in part.
“To ensure equity in the provision of education in the country, no school shall carry out promotions outside the above time frames on the pretext that some learners had attended private lessons and are therefore ahead of the rest,” Kakooza noted.
In terms of school fees, the permanent secretary guided that seniors one and two will report and complete the remaining part of the term without paying any additional fees, in case they had already completed the interrupted’s term fees. The same will apply to students in schools that hosted UNEB marking centres.
Kakooza further says that when semi candidates report for the special term, the school is not expected to charge parents more than 60 per cent of the normal fees. “P6, S3, and S5 were expected to report on June 7 for a special term, will report and pay fees proportionate to the shorter term. For the avoidance of doubt, no school should charge more than 60 per cent of the standard fees,” he stressed.
In the same development, a source at the ministry says that there are already discussions on the hybrid teaching model where the ministry plans to reintroduce broadcasted lessons to supplement the reading materials that have been distributed for the days that learners will spend at home.
“The only challenge is with lower primary who had not received study material. The COVID-19 response committee had a meeting yesterday and we expect them to advise how will be handled,” the source added.
Dr Tony Mukasa Lusambu, an education consultant, advises that after setting up short-term interventions, the ministry should set up a think tank including a group expert to look for long interventions to sustain the education sector than applying firefighting methods.
“Adjustments can be made and we put short time intervention. However, no one is tall enough to see the future and tell us that after 42 days schools will reopen as planned. We need a broader and better plan for our education sector,” Dr Lusambu, a former commissioner at the education ministry said.