Education is a powerful tool to stimulate growth across all sectors of the economy. It’s a stairway to economic growth, social prosperity and holistic national development. As it is said “No nation is better than their quality of education system”.
Like many other countries globally, Uganda has been hard hit by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Since March 2020, when the country experienced total lockdown, and much as other sectors were later relieved, the education sector continued to suffer under the grip of the restrictions. For close to two years, many learners have not seen the gates of their schools.
The aftermath of Covid-19 outbreak has left approximately 15 million children out of school. Much as effort to reopen schools in phased manner kicked off in October 2020 to enable candidate classes complete their course of study, the efforts just favored a mere 1,180,998 candidates who sat for their Primary Leaving Examination (PLE), Uganda Certificated of Education (UCE) and Uganda Advanced Certificate of Education (UACE) between March and April this year representing 7.9% of the affected learners.
Further plans to reopen schools were deterred by the second wave of the pandemic in June 2021, prompting a second lockdown. This was a time classes like Primary one to Primary three had been set to reopen. Reopening pre-primary was still a mystery and these are very young children whose readiness to learning is critically affected by their growth and development.
During growth development of a child their significant milestones require that they are attained in due time. For example, a child begins to walk, begins to talk and starts school when it due at an appropriate time. Children of such age bracket have missed the milestone of starting at an appropriate time. Language development and social skills are acquired at that tender age (3 years to 5 years) pre-primary stage. Let’s liken to the proverbial tree that grew crooked and it was not possible to make it straight.
Adolescents on other hand have missed the guidance and counsel given in the school / learning environment. Genetic methods of teaching employed in schools cannot be equated with E-leaning as the latter target only knowledge and passing examinations. School education changes the whole person, lack of which gives raise to moral and value degeneration. It is evident that most of the youth are idle and desperate, a case in point are teenage pregnancies that have been on the raise, and these youth may become errant later in life.
The pandemic has not only affected the learners, but also the teachers and parents. Teachers especially of private schools have lost jobs. Many teachers have exchanged their professionals for informal jobs. Teachers are demoralized and desperate. When the situation returns to normal, many of them will need psychosocial help to see themselves as teachers again.