Africa

Uganda ends world's longest pandemic school closures

Published : January 11, 2022 15:15 IST

Rights groups fear that many students will have fallen too far behind in their studies or drop out completely. Photo: Nicholas Kajoba/Xinhua/imago images

Some 15 million students could go back to class, amidst fears that irreparable damage has been done to their education.

Classrooms welcomed students back in Uganda on January 10, ending the world's longest school closures. In-person learning has been partially or completely non-existant across the country since March 2020. Education Minister John Muyingo said Uganda's 15 million pupils would automatically resume classes a year above where they left off. "All schools have implemented guidelines and standard operating procedures to ensure the safe return of children to schools, and measures have been put in place to ensure those who don't comply do so," Muyingo told French news agency AFP.

What effect have the school closures had on children?

However, local teachers and international NGOs alike have said that Uganda has done irreparable damage to the education of young people, many of whom were unable to continue studying online. Child rights groups have also highlighted that many students are unlikely to return to school, some having begun working to support their families. There has also been an uptick in teenage pregnanciesacross the continent since the pandemic began.

"We can't let this happen again. We must keep schools open for every child, everywhere," UNICEF Uganda wrote on Twitter. Save the Children Uganda said that urgent interventions were needed to support learners from dropping out, having fallen so far behind during the pandemic. "Education is every child’s right amd a way to secure their future," the group posted on Twitter.

es/rt (AFP, Reuters)