The 2020 academic year for all education institutions will end in July.
This was announced on Thursday evening by President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni during his address on covid-19 pandemic and school reopening.
The end of the academic year means that learners at different levels will now be moving to the next levels or classes on the ladder of education.
In Uganda, the academic year runs from late January to early December with three terms covering 260 days of curricula and co-curricular activities, assessment, and national examinations.
However, in 2020, the academic year was interrupted by the covid-19 pandemic which forced the government to close down all educational institutions.
At that time of the closure, the idea was that learners could report back to school after 32 days. But, eleven months down the road, a few learners in candidate classes and higher education finalists have been able to resume teaching and learning activities.
President Museveni also announced the re-opening dates for semi-candidates, universities and tertiary institutions. The announcement comes at a backdrop of a cabinet decision which gave a green light for semi candidates to resume learning.
According to the President, learners in Primary Six, S3 and S5 will resume classes on March 1, 2021, and will study in a staggered system where different groups of learners will be reporting to school on different days as decided by the ministry or school authorities.
He further argues that normal learning will possibly resume after a section of Ugandans have been vaccinated.
On the fate of learners in other classes like P.4-5 and those in S.1-2, the president says they will also return to school after candidates have finished sitting their examinations. He, however, advises that they will also learn based on a staggered system blended with long-distance education whose detailed planned will be worked out by the ministry of education.
Museveni also expressed disappointment with the Members of Parliament who frustrated the home-schooling programme which was supposed to be through radio and television broadcast lessons.
Last year, Parliament declined to approve 336.8 Billion Shillings that was requested to purchase 9 million radio sets. The MPs branded the plan as an unnecessary expenditure.
Museveni Impressed By Reduction in New COVID-19 Infections
President Museveni has said that the reduction in the number of new COVID-19 infections in the country is an indicator that the pandemic is under control.
According to data from the health ministry, in the last 16 days, the number of new cases has systematically reduced from three digits to two. Between January 20th to the 26th, the number of cases fell from 178 cases to 53 cases. The same trend was recorded in the next seven days.
The number of new cases as of February 2, 2021, was 34 compared to 110 cases reported on January 27th.
In his address on Thursday night, Museveni said that this trend is interesting and is a good sign that the country is doing well in managing the pandemic.
As of February 3, 2021, a total of 39,735 cases of COVID-19 had been reported in the country. 327 of these have succumbed to the diseases while 14,310 patients have recovered from the disease.
While President Museveni refers to the decline as interesting, scientists say that an investigation needs to be carried out to determine why the country is reporting a decline in the number of new cases reported.
Dr Monica Musenero, the senior presidential advisor on epidemics says that while they have noted a drop in the number of new cases being reported, they do not want to tag it to the country overcoming the disease.
“Yes, we have noted a decline but right now it would premature for us to interpret this as us turning a new leaf where COVID is concerned. We cannot say that these figures mean we are overcoming COVID. We have to look into these figures more to find out what they mean. The numbers might be low because few people are testing for COVID these days,” Dr Musenero said.
Figures from the health ministry show that since January 15, an average of 1,000 tests are carried out daily, compared to the period between Octobers to December where 2,000 tests were carries out on average, this shows a decline of 1,000 cases.
Scientists have associated the drop in tests being carried out to the end of the political season where a big number of tests were carried out by politicians. The decrease in testing comes at a time when the ministry of health officials says that the country is currently under testing. At the moment, only 10 percent of infected persons are being traced.
Data from the World Health Organization however indicate that globally, declines in the number of cases and deaths are being reported in some African countries and the Eastern Mediterranean region.