Uganda National Teachers’ Union Reacts to School Reopening
Through a Government decision, schools, colleges, and universities, are now reopening in Uganda after seven months of closure over the COVID-19 pandemic. The reopening has been decided for the 1.2 million students in candidate classes and finalists to complete their studies amid a spike in COVID-19 infections. The Government adopted a set of ‘Standard Operating Procedures’ to guide a ‘safe reopening of schools.’
On Friday 16 October 2020, Mr Filbert Baguma, General Secretary of the Uganda Teachers’ Union (UNATU), went live on a local TV station to express the teachers’ perspective on school reopening. For him, the process of reopening is rushed as the level of preparedness is not enough. He indicated that the Government’s Standard Operating Procedures for school reopening did not reach school leadership in time to allow them to get prepared before the date of reopening. He insisted on the need for teachers to be trained on how to handle COVID-19 cases. He also listed a series of other issues that need to be addressed prior to school reopening. These include funds to make schools operational, payment of privately employed teachers who have not been paid since school closure and a social dialogue on when to reopen schools for non-finalist students.
Although the Ugandan Government’s Standard Operating Procedures constitute clear policy guidelines, the UNATU General Secretary’s interview indicates that so many other aspects such as the provision of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and social dialogue are not in place as called for in the EIRAF Indicators for school reopening. For the full video on UNATU’s position on school reopening, please, click here.