The long-anticipated re-opening of schools in Uganda without considering the children’s safety and re-equipping teachers among other factors may not be a sustainable move to ensure that they enjoy this key social service.
Now as schools prepare to reopen after close to two years of closure, the United Kingdom (UK) and Ireland have partnered with UNICEF to support the government of Uganda to train headteachers and teachers to ensure they implement surveillance for COVID-19 as well as support children with mental health solutions.
Under this partnership, the primary focus will be on school-based surveillance for early identification, reporting, and management of emerging COVID-19 cases in schools, while the secondary focus will be on mental health and psychosocial wellbeing training to support teachers and children to readjust.
The UK has provided £450,000 (UGX2,153,403,038) while Ireland has provided Euro 1.8 Million (UGX7,200,521,083) to UNICEF towards these are critical activities which can have a lasting impact on the system, enabling it to remain open and continue to provide education for the country’s children.
Speaking at the opening of the training, Kate Airey, the British High Commissioner to Uganda, expressed sympathies with her government of Uganda colleagues who have had to make really difficult decisions over the last two years.
She added that like all Ugandans she was relieved when the Government announced schools would be reopening on the January 10.
She noted that regaining the ground lost will not be easy and ensuring this is essential not just for the children on an individual level, but to ensure Uganda’s economic development.
Kate said that Uganda must therefore now create a system that can enable schools to remain open, and education carries on without further interruptions.
Speaking at the same event the UNICEF Country Representative, Dr. Munir A. Safieldin said that whereas other parties can support, it is only headteachers and teachers that can keep the schools safe and ensure that children receive the quality education they need and deserve.
“We are aware that there are many challenges, and your task at the forefront of this effort is among the most difficult. However, if anyone can make this happen, teachers can. The future of a generation of children, and the future of the country, is in your able hands,” said Dr. Munir
Cormac Shine, Chargé d’Affaires at the Embassy of Ireland, said: “Ireland is proud to support Uganda’s efforts to safely reopen schools, and implementing effective surveillance is crucial to ensure a safe learning environment for students and staff alike. Along with our development partners Ireland remains committed to supporting education in Uganda, and the safe reopening of schools is a landmark achievement after a challenging few years.”
The initiative will result in up to 40,000 both public and private schools nationwide being capacitated via district officials to effectively track and manage COVID-19 cases and support students and teachers on re-entry.
This program has been prioritised by the Government of Uganda under its School Re-opening Strategy, and it will be implemented jointly by the Ministry of Education and Sports and the Ministry of Health in districts and schools across the country. The training is covering all schools in the country.