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Uganda schools reopen after almost two years of Covid closure

Africa/Uganda/14-01-2022/Author and Source:

Children in Uganda have expressed their joy at finally returning to school nearly two years after they were closed because of Covid.

“I am really excited because it’s been a long time without seeing our teachers. And we have missed out a lot,” Joel Tumusiime told the BBC.

“I am glad to be back at school,” echoed another, Mercy Angel Kebirungi.

But after one of the world’s longest school closures, authorities warned at least 30% of students may never return.

Some have started work, while others have become pregnant or married early, the country’s national planning authority said.

About 15 million students have been affected by the closure, the government says.

“We can’t let this happen again. We must keep schools open for every child, everywhere,” the UN children’s agency, Unicef, warned on Twitter.

Some classes reopened in October 2020 temporarily but closed again in May and June of the following year.

While schools were closed, there have been some lessons via the radio, TV and newspapers while some schools have provided printed materials, but these have not reached everyone.

Wealthier Ugandans have also been able to access online classes and home tutors.

But many children have not been to school for about 22 months.

One pupil explained how she continued learning during the long hiatus.

“My parents never had the time to study with me. When schools were closed, I was able to read, but on my own. Sometimes I would meet with friends to study,” said Christine Teburwa. Like Joel and Mercy, she is in Primary Five, meaning they are between nine and 11 years old.

Pupils who have not had any education since March 2020 will resume classes a year above where they were before the pandemic.

However, some parents in the capital, Kampala, questioned this.

“My children have not been learning at all. I wish they could be allowed to continue from where they stopped,” Rachael Nalumansi said.

“Before the first lockdown, our children had only been in school for two weeks. So it is a bit concerning that they are now promoting them to the next class,” Vanetta Bangi said.

For those students who have not accessed any form of studying during the pandemic, the curriculum will be abridged to focus on core areas and give them a chance to catch up.

Lessons were already underway at some schools I visited on Monday morning while at others, students were still cleaning classrooms and re-organising their desks. Others were still registering with the school administration.

Boarding school students in Kampala and the nearby districts will start throughout the week, to avoid congestion on public transport.

Despite authorities instructing that health and safety measures like masks and social distancing should be in place, not all institutions have the space or facilities to ensure that these steps are properly followed. Some have huge numbers of students and very few classrooms.

But it is not only learners who will struggle, but many parents’ incomes were also hit by the pandemic, and some will find it difficult to raise money for tuition fees and other school requirements.

The phased reopening of schools, which started in November with universities and higher education institutions, was pegged to the vaccination of over 550,000 teachers, their support staff, and students aged 18 and above.

Uganda, which has had some of the world’s strictest lockdowns, is now moving to fully reopen the economy despite being at the start of its third wave of the pandemic driven by the Omicron variant.

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Kenya: Parents decry high cost of living as schools’ re-open

Africa/Kenya/07-01-2022/Author: Source:

The business community and parents in Narok town have decried a high cost of living as children re-open schools for the third term.

Many parents were forced to do minimum shopping for their children as they lamented of hiked prices of essential commodities like sanitary goods and stationery.

Joyce Naeni, a mother of four said despite her heavy savings, she could not afford all the commodities she needed for her children who are in classes eight, seven, grade five and grade three who school at Blessed Narok academy in Narok town.

“I used to spend Ksh 5, 000 to buy essential goods for my children, however, the prices of these commodities have increased and I am forced to do the same shopping with Ksh 10, 000,” she said.

Johnston Sadera, who owns a uniform shop in Narok Tsaid he had calculated of making profits during this season that schools are opening but was wrong as only a few customers knocked at his doorsteps.

Sadera said he is opting for other options like farming to make money as he could not rely on his uniform shop to earn a living.

“This year is so different from other years. Before, I used to make a lot of money in the month of January. I will be forced to venture into different activities where I can earn a living,” said the businessman.

Rose Moraa, a mother of three secondary school children asked the Ministry of Education to allow all children in school, even those who had not cleared school fees saying it is hard for her to afford the school fees of her three children at once.

Ms Moraa who hawks tea and snacks in Narok town called on well-wishers to help support those bright but poor children to complete their education.

A spot check on the transport sector indicated that the Matatus had hiked fares to various towns making the parents dig deeper into their pockets to have the children go back to school.

At the Narok Line bus stop that operates between Narok and Nairobi, the fare had been increased from Ksh 400 to Ksh 600 owing to the many passengers who had queued to travel.

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Kenya: KICD denies over supplying schools with text books

Africa/Kenya/13-08-2021/Author: ANTONY GITONGA/Source:

The Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development (KICD) has denied claims that it authorized the oversupply of textbooks in public schools across the country.

The institute has attributed the move to the mass transfer of students from one school to the other due to Covid-19 that saw parents lose jobs and relocate to their rural homes.

In the last couple of months, headteachers and leaders have cried foul over the continuous dumping of unwanted books in the schools by printers.

Some schools have been forced to buy plastic water tanks to store the books with their stores already filled up.

But according to KICD Director Professor Charles Omondo, the flooding had affected a few schools after learners were transferred at the height of the pandemic.

“A few schools that were affected by the transfers had problems with the books supply but we are reviewing this problem,” he said.

Omondo at the same time denied that set books were being changed every year noting that KICD had evaluated all the books needed by schools.

“We have given teachers the books that have met the threshold and they are supposed to pick one per subject while the others can be used by the teachers for reference,” he said.

Addressing the press in Central Primary school in Naivasha, the director added that they are visiting schools to ensure grade five pupils have received learning materials.

He said that plans for the transition from 8-4-4 to Competence-Based Curriculum (CBC) system were in place with the government moving in to build in more classes.

KICD has further disassociated itself from a long list of books being demanded by some private schools

Earlier, Gilgil Mp Martha Wangari had raised an alert over the possible loss of millions of shillings in procurement of textbooks for public schools.

According to the Mp, schools were oversupplied with hundreds of books that they did not need as part of the capitation fees that went to pay the printers.

“It’s time that we allowed teachers to procure the books that they need and we should put a threshold on the amount used to buy the books,” she said.

She added that tens of schools in the country had been oversupplied with books that they did not require while set books were being changed every year.

“When parliament resumes we shall summon the CS for Education to clarify on this issue where printers are dumping unwanted books in schools,” she said.

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Chile: Padres y apoderados respaldan las demandas del magisterio sobre agobio a las comunidades educativas

América del Sur/Chile/11-06-2021/Autor(a) y Fuente:

En el marco de la “Jornada de Visibilización del Agobio Laboral”, la directiva regional Bío-Bío del Magisterio realizó un punto de prensa junto a padres y apoderados que respaldan las demandas del gremio. En la instancia, Jorge Barriga, presidente de dicho regional, comentó que el apoyo se debe a un trabajo mancomunado donde todas las bases de las comunidades educativas de las comunas de la región han sido partícipes.

Al respecto, Ester Sáez, Presidenta Comunal de Centros de Padres Chiguayante, leyó un comunicado donde expresó: “con un 100% de acuerdo, los centros de padres han decidido no enviar a sus hijos a clases presenciales, continuando así con las clases on-line; consideramos que en estos momentos el nivel de contagio ha aumentado considerablemente en nuestras comunas en Fase 1 y en Fase 2”.

En ese sentido, Barriga añadió que ha habido una insistencia del Ministro Figueroa a regresar a clases presenciales incluso amenazando con la no entrega de la subvención escolar, lo que claramente ha agobiado doblemente a los docentes que, velando por la salud y la vida de sus estudiantes, incluso han tenido que sacar dinero de sus bolsillos para llegar con el contenido pedagógico a sus estudiantes.

Por otro lado, Carolina Rodríguez, Presidenta de la Unión Comunal de Centros de Padres de Lota, añadió: “Este ha sido un Ministro indolente que no se pone de lado de nosotros los apoderados, no tenemos ni siquiera seguro Covid para nuestros niños, funcionarios y profesores. Nosotros decidimos enviar a nuestros niños en Fase 4, posiblemente el próximo año, cuando nos sintamos seguras de que en los establecimientos”.

En ese sentido, Marina Figueroa, Centro de Padres Provincia Bío-Bío, señaló: “hoy nosotros estamos alzando la voz, en nombre de la Octava Región y esperamos que esto llegue al resto de las regiones “.  Al finalizar, Cecilia Torres, Presidenta Unión Comunal de Centro de Padres Tomé, agradeció la labor que están haciendo los profesores hoy y le insistió al Ministro que no volverán a clases en Fase 4 y que se conecte con las reales necesidades de la gente.

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Uganda closes schools as Covid cases rise

Africa/Uganda/11-06-2021/Author and Source:

Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni has shut down schools and suspended public gatherings as the country faces a surge of infections in a second Covid-19 wave.

Public transport between districts will be banned starting Thursday to allow students who are in schools to return home.

Bars, cinemas and theatres have also been closed.

The suspension of schools and gatherings takes effect from Monday and will be in place for 42 days.

Dozens of schools had reported virus cases among staff and students prompting the closure.

The announcement came hours after the health ministry announced 1,259 new coronavirus cases – the highest number of infections recorded in a single day – and nine deaths on Sunday.

A rise in coronavirus cases was reported two weeks ago and officials mulled over a lockdown to prevent health facilities from being overwhelmed.

The national referral hospital Mulago reported a spike in Covid-19 patients last week, saying it needed to increase bed capacity.

Uganda has 52,929 cases of coronavirus and 374 deaths so far.

By BBC News

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Kenya: University slots exceed qualified KCSE candidates

Africa/Kenya/28-05-2021/Author and Source:

Candidates who sat the 2020 Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE) will know the universities and colleges they have been selected to by the end of July 2021.

Education CS Prof George Magoha announced that 160,160 slots were up for grabs in public and private universities under the government-sponsored programme and 331,045 spaces in Technical and TVET institutions.

This means that all the 143,140 candidates who scored C+ and above will be absorbed in universities of their choice.

Magoha was speaking at Joseph Kangethe primary school in Nairobi where he launched the university placement process by Kenya Universities and Colleges Central Placement Service (KUCCPS).

KUCCPS has consequently opened its online portal for application and revision of degrees and college choices for the 2020 KCSE Candidates.

“I am pleased to note that KUCCPS is ready to proceed with university and college placement for the 2020 KCSE candidates. Accordingly, I wish to announce that the Revision of Choices for Placement to Degree, Diploma, Artisan and Craft Courses will commence today, May 24th, 2021” said Magoha.

“Consequently, I have directed KUCCPS to open its system for the 2020 KCSE cohort to review and, if they so wish, make changes to the courses that they selected through their schools. Candidates who were not able to apply in school will use the opportunity to submit their choices” he added.

A total of 893 candidates who sat the exam and whose results were released early this month attained a mean grade of A Plain while 143,140 scored C+.

The 2020 exam was the first ever to be conducted under the Covid-19 pandemic that disrupted the school calendar.

However, the students defied the odds to record a sterling performance. An additional 17,393 candidates qualified for admission to university compared to 2019’s 125,747 candidates who attained C+ and above.

The higher education institutions will admit the students in the new academic year beginning September 2021.

“All applicants will know the universities and colleges they have been selected to by the end of July 2021. This will enable our higher education institutions to admit the students in the new academic year beginning September 2021. The students and their parents will also have ample time to prepare adequately” said Magoha as he affirmed government’s commitment to providing an opportunity for every child to pursue a career of their choice.

“I wish to reiterate that all the 143,140 candidates who scored a mean grade of C+ and above will be absorbed by our universities and TVET institutions by choice. Further, the remaining 600,159 are eligible to apply for TVET programmes offered in our National Polytechnics and other Technical Training Institutions” he said.

747,161 candidates sat the examination across the 10,565 centres in the country.

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Afghanistan: Top UN officials strongly condemn ‘heinous’ attack on girls school


Two senior UN officials on Wednesday, condemned in the strongest terms, a terrorist attack targeting girls and their families outside a high school in Kabul, the capital of Afghanistan.

The terrorists who exploded a bomb near a girls’ school in the mostly Shiite district of west Kabul in Dasht-e-Barchi on Saturday “must be held accountable” for their “heinous crime”, the UN Special Representatives for Children and Armed Conflict, Virginia Gamba, and on Violence Against Children, Najat Maalla M’jid, said in a joint statement.

According to news reports, scores of people – many of them students between the ages of 11 and 15 – were killed and hundreds of others injured.

Safeguard girls education

The UN officials also called on the Afghan authorities to urgently protect the right to education in armed conflict, especially for girls, which is too often overlooked and neglected.

“In many contexts, access to education is particularly harsh for girls for economic and cultural reasons, but also for security reasons of which the recent attack in Afghanistan is only one latest tragic example”, they said, pushing for the safety of schools “and that girls just like boys are given equal opportunities to pursue their education”.

Afghanistan schools targeted

Afghanistan schools and hospitals remain one of the most attacked, according to the 2019 Secretary-General Report on Children and Armed Conflict. And preliminary data for 2020 show a similar worrying trend, with COVID-19 further exacerbating the vulnerabilities of children, including girls.

“Girls may not be given the choice to go back to school when they reopen, because they had to work or be married off to support their families”, said the two UN officials.

Against the backdrop of the unremitting challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, they stressed that “countries must make the strategic decision of prioritizing education, including in armed conflict in line with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of reaching the furthest behind”.

Undermining women’s roles

Targeting girls undermines the crucial role that educated girls and women play in the social and economic development of their societies.

The Special Representatives underlined the urgency of ending the violence in Afghanistan and achieving a peaceful settlement of the conflict.

They also extended their condolences to the victim’s families and the Government of Afghanistan and wished a full recovery to those who were injured in the horrific terrorist attack.

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