KIU, Western Campus – A section of KIU Western Campus student leaders have decried the maintenance of closure of schools as one of the measures to control the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic in Uganda.
President Yoweri Museveni, during the televised national address on COVID-19 on July 30 said that schools will remain closed for a further 60 days when their phased reopening will be reviewed. He however added that the ministries of Education and Health should meet and discuss the possibility of reopening medical schools in the near future.
Michael Daniel Funda (above in photo), the president of the KIU Pharmaceutical Students Association (KIUPSA) and a third-year Pharmacy student said that though he agrees that primary and secondary schools should remain closed, he, on the other hand, believes universities should have been opened because university students are mature enough to understand and conform to the Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) put in place by the Ministry of Health.
“Many of the students here can be sensitized to follow guidelines for management of the pandemic, and universities can give an extra hand in the sensitization and management process,” Funda said.
His compatriot Innocent Agaba (above), the President of the Uganda Pharmaceutical Students Association (UPSA) and a fourth-year Pharmacy student, said that medical schools should never have been closed in the first place and he called upon the government to open them because medical students can’t benefit from the online learning system the government is so much advocating for.
Sarah Mutonyi (below), the International Affairs minister and Woman MP for the School of Allied Health Sciences (SAHS) thinks the president should have ordered the phased reopening of schools because many students are now disillusioned and are losing hope.
“Students are going to lose hope and many of them are going to divert to other things because they know schools won’t be opened soon,” she said.
Francis Okello, the Finance Minister, said the president was right to extend the closure of schools but he said that medical students need to be granted an exception because they are needed in the health sector.
“I think the president was right to grant special consideration for the medical students (on the proposed reopening) because there is a gap that is likely to appear in the Uganda health services,” Okello (below) said.
“The current interns are about to finish. So, we have a gap of around 6 months for the students who are supposed to be deployed as interns,” he added.
The continued closure of schools is set to trigger a range of problems that might have the same or even worse effects than those caused by COVID-19.
Social campaigners and activists are already lamenting about the increasing rates of teenage pregnancies, forced marriages, increased HIV infection rates, substance abuse and mental health problems among student populations due to the COVID-19 lockdown.