Higher Institutions Asked Not to Reopen for All Learners

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Higher Institutions of learning have been directed not to open until a formal communication from the government.

According to Professor Mary J. N. Okwakol, the Executive Director, National Council for Higher Education-NCHE, they have received several requests from higher institutions of learning, requesting to open for all students.

She, however, says it all depends on resolutions that will come from the Ministry of Health, national COVID task force and the Ministry of Education and sports, in regards to opening up of Higher Institutions of learning in Uganda.

In September 2020, The National Council for Higher Education (NCHE) accepted opening of universities and tertiary institutions teaching health courses for only final-year students but after fulfilling the stipulated requirements for prevention of the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The fate of non-finalists and students in other courses remains unknown. The government allowed finalists studying Bachelor of Medical Surgery, Dental Surgery, Midwifery, Nursing, Pharmacy and Allied Medical Professionals to complete their courses. Others are finalists undertaking training at diploma level in different courses, and postgraduate students studying various health-related programmes.

The NCHE released guidelines that must be fulfilled by all the institutions before they reopen.

According to the reopening roadmap that was issued by NCHE, heads of institutions and governing councils were given two months from September 2020, up to November 13 to put in place all the requirements including the formation of Covid-19 committees, training staff and installation of the requisite facilities.

This is besides the existing general hygiene, social distancing and wearing of facemasks and hand washing requirements in all public places. All students were told to attend the initial Covid-19 training on the first day of reporting and other mandatory Covid-19 training on infection, prevention and control. Institutions were also told to ensure restricted entry of non-students or staff.

The Vice-Chancellor of Makerere University, Prof Barnabas Nawangwe, said the the university has been working on the guidelines since the reopening of the university for final year students in anticipation that when the government reopens higher institutions of learning fully, the university is ready to welcome back all students.

“We have already put in place the required facilities like hand washing facilities, soap, sanitisers and management is now working on the timetables for students,” Prof Nawangwe said.

Professor David Lameck Kibikyo, the Vice-Chancellor for Busoga University says for continuing and new students to start studying, it would require more resources in terms of furniture, scholastic materials to serve them well.

“It requires some time for better planned and investment of resources at the university to accommodate more students.” He said. 

The Vice-Chancellor of Kampala International University (KIU), Prof Muhammed Mpezamihigo, said: “fresh and continuing students and parents can be given some time to prepare so they should look for some money to complete their tuition,” Prof Mpezamihigo said. 

The Spokesperson of the Ministry of Education Patrick Muyinda, says that the the decision to open schools for other learners will be communicated by the President