The decision by President Yoweri Museveni to delay the reopening of schools until after 50% of all students and teachers are vaccinated, has attracted fierce criticism as putting the nation’s future at great risk.
In his address to the nation on the government’s progress in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, President Yoweri Museveni announced that the government had agreed to relax the two-month lockdown by reopening businesses. The president however kept other critical sectors of society, particularly schools, closed until, as he said, after at least 50% of them are vaccinated.
But some observers believe the target is unachievable and unrealistic in the short or even medium term to allow schools to resume and ensure that fewer students drop out due to the prolonged closure.
Others also feel that the prioritizing children who have higher immunity over other more vulnerable groups like the elderly and the doctors is the wrong policy.
Data from different government and non-governmental organizations already shows that the continued closure of schools has contributed to the rise in teenage pregnancies, especially in rural areas.
The outcomes of the Uganda National Examinations Board (UNEB), have also pointed to the widening Social economic inequality arising from the very poor performance of rural students compared to their urban counterparts.
Dr. Kizza Besigye, the four-time Presidential contender this week came out to challenge the government to open schools because of what he termed as overwhelming adverse effects of students staying out of schools.
Stephen Ssenkumba a teacher at one of the Kampala schools said whereas parents in some urban schools have been supporting their children either through coaching or by enabling online education, rural kids have been digging.
“The effects of these imbalances will roll back the government’s achievements several years back, in terms of rising maternal mortality rates.
Slow pace of vaccination
Others have punched holes in the government’s plan by citing the slow pace of vaccination, compared to peers in the region.
Leader of Opposition in Uganda’s Parliament Mathias Mpuuga Nsamba praised President Museveni for what he termed as abandoning the begging approach when he ordered for vaccines from the open market.
Still Mpuuga, described the pace of vaccination as intended to keep the country in perpetual lockdown.
Others say that Uganda has wasted a good crisis by failing to prioritize the vaccination of teachers and doctors, who are more vulnerable to the COVID-19 pandemic than the students.
FDC leaning Dr. Ekwaro Obuku, the former President of the Uganda Medical Workers Association, said the government has mismanaged the lockdown by failing to prioritize health workers and other frontline staff.
Dr. Ekwaro Obuku told nbs tv recently that: “Life has come to a standstill. I think what should happen going forward is for the government to expand testing. Lockdown can go on but it’s not sustainable. We should get better with our health system and invest in our health professionals.”
Critics say that despite billions of shillings spent, much of which is borrowed money, Uganda is lagging behind it’s neighbours in vaccination efforts.