Elspeth Dugdale | August 17, 2021
15.1 million students remain stuck at home in Uganda. Waiting. Helping at home, working in the fields and waiting. Waiting for teachers to get vaccinated, so they can return to school. This could take a while, as Uganda does not have a plentiful stock of vaccines ready to use. It is hard to predict when schools will reopen. Here's why...
In order to create some context, this is the current situation in mid-August. Numbers are rounded up/down for ease of reading.
Total population: 47.3 million (source worldpopulationreview.com); 77% are under 25 years old
Just over 1 million vaccines have been administered including first and second doses (1.17m source ourworldindata.org). The targeted number of people to fully vaccinate is 21.9 million.
Total number of teachers - 550,000 - but only 47,000 teachers have been fully vaccinated (source Ministry of Health Uganda). Many are hesitant and resistant to being told to have the vaccine
Many private schools have been forced to close. No school fees = no income = no teacher salaries & growing debts. Many teachers have left teaching as a result.
When schools do go back, there will be three potential 'bottlenecks' in the school system, due to only allowing the two exam classes to return to take their exams to 'complete' the year
As a result there will potentially be two Senior 1 (S1) classes & two S5 classes in secondary.
The youngest, third bottleneck will be even more complex. There are those who had just started nursery/primary in 2020, together with those who should have started in 2021 and not to mention those who will be due to start in 2022. It is likely to be a logistical nightmare.
Confusing? Complicated? Absolutely.
Meanwhile, 15.1 million are still waiting....
No-one really knows the longterm effects of this. But it is likely to prove both devastating and destructive to Uganda's progress if a generation of students is lost due to the school closures - some may never return. What about the future? Where will the doctors, engineers, scientists, economists, civil servants, accountants, academics, judges, teachers and business people come from in the future? Education really does matter.