Teachers across the country have been left stranded as the Ugandan government imposed a fresh lockdown on schools for the next 42days owing to the emergence of a new strain of the Corona virus. In quite a familiar fashion to the first ever lockdown of march 2020 that caught many by surprise, a lock down that was intended for only 21 days went on for a solid 7months on all learning institutions.
According to many the lockdown was justified as a measure to curb the spread of the novel corona virus disease and keep the learners and the custodians of knowledge safe and healthy, but some of the faults in its aftermath were unforeseen.
The many faults included the near destitution of teachers especially those in private schools, that had to either settle for no pay or end up being laid off by their employers. Many of them were forced to take up odd jobs or start small business ventures to survive and fend for their families.
After several months of lockdown, procedures were initiated to foster a possible reopening of all learning institutions in a staggered manner in October 2020 starting with candidates and finalists. And early this year still semi candidate classes were allowed to open and presenting hope for the teachers that by mid this year all classes will fully resume to wind up academic year 2020-2021.
To their dismay this new found hope was rather quashed by President Museveni’s address on Sunday 6th June 2021 that mandated all schools to close again the following day by 8am for 42 days leaving many stranded.
Despite the ruins of last year was an eye opener for many educationists, Fred Katambala a Journalist and a lecturer at Nkumba University turned to welding and metal fabrication business with his savings of UGX 5million,he says the second lockdown presents a chance for him to concentrate on his business and hopes the adverse effects of the lockdown will not hit like last year.
” I had resorted to farming as per the first closure of school and what I had planted early last year, cassava, beans maize, sweet potatoes are now ready to harvest and I’m sure in this second closure of schools I don’t think I will be affected, I will use some of my harvests for home consumption and the remaining balance for sell to also get money to fully look after my family.” Makumbi Francis a headteacher at Lakeside primary school told our reporter
However Stuart Lubwama, the vocal teacher’s advocate and the chairperson of the Initiative for Teachers Advocacy called on government to reignite the several programs that were intended to support private teachers, but still presented fears of misappropriation of funds.
“Last year, we received support from several partners and government released monies to a tune of UGX 22 Billion to aid teachers during the hard period of the first lockdown but these funds didn’t reach the teachers, we hope the government does better this year.” Lubwama said