Back to School Diary of a Headteacher in Uganda

The following diary entry comes from Keefa luyirika in Uganda, as part of our ‘Back to School Diary’ series.

A return to school

There is still ongoing uncertainty regarding the return to school or an educational institution in Uganda. Following the subsequent lockdown in June 2021, after the second wave of COVID-19 hit the country, leaving several Ugandan families devastated with passed relatives. Considering, schools were first closed in March 2020 following President Museveni’s order to close all learning institutions to curb the spread of a fatal COVID-19 pandemic.

After re-opening after the first lockdown in October 2020 with only candidate classes. The semi-candidate classes followed in March 2021 before the second lockdown came in June 2021; therefore, lower classes have never returned to school since the first lockdown of March 2020. It has now been approximately 1½ years since pupils from these classes stopped in person learning.

Government stand

The ministry of education and sports and the ministry of health in Uganda argues that they cannot open educational institutions before all teachers are vaccinated. A move that tries to keep teachers and learners from getting the assistance that we support.

However, the process of vaccinating people is prolonged since out of 42 million people expected to be in the country, the vaccinated number so far is less than three million people (7.14%), and among these, teachers are less than three hundred thousand. Meaning several teachers and students are largely uncertain on when they will return to school.

However, according to the recent press release by our ministry of education, after the lifting of the lockdown, lower classes will return to school before upper classes.

I am eagerly waiting for the return of my pupils, and I would feel great if I knew the exact return date.

However, I still have questions that I think will be answered when the time comes. For example, will all my learners return to school after the lockdown? Will they still have an interest in studies as they were? How is their discipline now? What will be done to pupils who will come with their babies and pregnancies? Won’t the learners be affected by their physical growth? And so, on

I am looking forward to meeting my fellow teachers and forge a path ahead on how we shall receive and handle students who have been out of school for almost two years. Of course, as teachers, we need to sit down and get new methods that can fit in the new normal. Counselling and guidance sessions must be prioritised because we will handle learners who have become wild. Some teachers who have spent an extended period without doing their noble work have lost interest and need much motivation. Therefore, both teachers and learners need psycho-social support through guidance and counselling.

How will learners be reignited?

After return dates are declared as teachers, we shall come/report to our working stations two weeks before to prepare for the return of students. Of course, we have planned to have refresher courses for our entire teacher before receiving learners. Such practices will include psycho-social support courses and pedagogical courses to fit the new normal.

We expect every teacher to have been vaccinated before returning to school. We shall also need to have parents sensitised and discuss how they can support the school and their children in this COVID-19 era studying, i.e., buying masks, sanitisers, etc.

How are preparations going on?

As teachers of Kalagala R/C, we meet each week as we’re waiting for the re-open to prepare and organise work schemes and discuss how we can handle pupils post lockdown COVID-19 era. Among the suggestion which teachers tabled down were the use of electronic learning; however, this has its challenges, including lack of computer skills by both teachers and learners, lack of equipment and finally limited power. Therefore, as staff, we decided to go for short computer courses immediately after lifting the lockdown.

Why did we decide to adopt E-learning?

Due to the challenges brought by the COVID-19 pandemic, we assumed that another pandemic might occur soon and affect schools as this one has done. Furthermore, we don’t know when this current COVID-19 pandemic will ultimately end because it comes in different waves.

As a school, we are focusing on the following major issues.

  • We are giving psycho-social support to both teachers and learners.
  • We are designing learning materials that can fit pupils in this COVID-19 era.
  • We are focusing on E-learning and equipping teachers and learners with computer skills.
  • We would also like to make our parents embrace electronic learning because this digital era is the way to go.

I wish all educators worldwide an excellent opening of the new term in the new normal. May God bless you all.

Author: Luyirika Keefa

Headteacher, Uganda

Luyirika Keefa is an Acting Headteacher at Kalagala R/C Primary School, Nakaseke District, Uganda.

He has a diploma in primary education, A grade III certificate and currently pursuing, A bachelor in primary education.

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