MUKONO – Uganda Christian University (UCU) top leaders have on Monday 21 met to discuss more in relation to the government of Uganda lifting its six-month lockdown on education, allowing schools to reopen on October 15 for candidate classes and for finalists in institutions of higher learning.
President Yoweri Museveni announced the move on Sunday evening in his address to the nation about the state of the coronavirus pandemic in the country.
By Sunday, Ugandans infected with the coronavirus were 6,827 and only 63 fatalities.
President Museveni noted in his address that the decision to reopen academic institutions that have been closed since March 20 was meant to reduce the possibility of clogging in the education system.
“If we don’t allow the 2020 batch of finalists to move on, what will happen to the batch of 2021?” the President asked, observing that the smaller number of finalists will make it easier to observe social distancing while at school. The figures presented by President Museveni showed that of Uganda’s 15 million learners, there are 1.2 million finalists.
Mr Presideni also declared the reopening of the International Airport and land borders, which could allow international students to return and complete their studies.
These students, as with all foreigners coming to Uganda, must test negative for COVID-19 within 72 hours before their arrival. The government also lifted the lockdown in border districts across the country to allow students to travel back to their schools.
The lifting of the lockdown on academic institutions came at the time when Uganda Christian University (UCU) was finalizing its plans to roll out the eLearning training for staff and online distance learning for students.
Earlier this month, UCU conducted online pre-entry exams for law students. UCU Vice-Chancellor Assoc. Prof. Aaron Mushengyezi noted that this virtual examination was a landmark achievement for the University that wants to strive to be “paperless” and become a leader in distance learning in the country. Mushengyezi and the Deputy Vice-Chancellor for Academic Affairs, Dr. John Kitayimbwa have said the university will roll out online distance learning on October 15, regardless of government lifting of education restrictions.
On the issue of the staff contracts, which were suspended in June, the deputy Vice-Chancellor in charge of Finance and Administration, David Mugawe, has said the affected staff will be reinstated on the payroll as soon as the lectures start in October.
In Uganda, private academic institutions mainly rely on students’ tuition fees for their operations. But Assoc. Prof. Mushengyezi has vowed to work with the private sector to grow the University’s revenue.
In May, UCU released the teaching timetable for the final year students who were supposed to be in sessions during the Trinity Semester (May-August), but withheld it after government extended the lockdown on academic institutions. Following the Sept. 20 President announcement, the University must decide if it will revise the same timetable or release a new one.