Stakeholders in the education sector who include parents, teachers, school administrators, students, financial institutions, suppliers were thrown into panic this week when the Ministry of Education announced plans to re-open sections on the sector i.e Primary one to Primary three.
Although in principle, the resumption of classes is a welcome move considering the time the kids have spent out of classes and the attendant social vices that have been reported including an increase in delinquency, domestic violence and retardation in aptitude, the return needs to be better planned.
Although the government has focused on rolling out vaccination especially for teachers, we wish to observe that resuming classes is much more complex exercise, especially considering the prolonged closure of schools but also the harsh economic environment that parents find themselves in.
The re-opening of schools therefore needs to take into consideration the following factors.
Parents need to be given adequate time to prepare for the return to schools which includes looking for school fees and other school requirements. Because of the economic impact of COVID-19, many lower level schools have been closed indefinitely. So parents have also to look for new schools.
Secondly, School administrators have a huge task at hand to not only ensure that they recruit enough teachers, since many have found alternative jobs in the informal sector as well as abroad on Kyeyo.
School owners and administrators further have an uphill task of procuring for food. Most parts of the country experienced crop failure – particularly maize. Reopening now and hastily would cause a sharp rise in food prices, something that will likely cause an increase in fees that will under the parents’ ability to take their kids back to school.
As we have also witnessed in the past, most government-aided schools experienced vandalism during the first lockdown. As such, these schools need to prepare and be supported with funds to replace furniture, clean compounds and remove ant-hills from classrooms.
It is also important to clarify the school time table so that all learners in all classes know exactly when they will return to school to avoid anxiety and loss of interest in education.
If these measures are taken into consideration, one would come to the conclusion that returning to school therefore should be planned for January. But even then, all the concerned stakeholders need to be brought on board.