World Vision International, an NGO working in Northern Uganda has come out to bailout school pupils during lock down

Returning the money is like putting the rope in your neck, Ministry of Education has ordered District Education officers in Acholi Sub Region to return capitation grant to the treasury.

“Can you imagine the Education ministry has ordered that the education grant for second term be remitted back to the treasury, and yet if we are to take the money back. We have to top up the caption fund because of Bank interests.”

World Vision International, an NGO working in Northern Uganda has come out to bailout school pupils during lock down.

GULU-UGANDA: The District Education Officer for Omoro Rev. Vincent Ocheng Ochen has appealed to the Ministry of Education to consider re-opening school since Health Ministry has given 32 condition and they as District Education Officer for Omoro have come up with 28 pre-condition for opening of schools.

“The education in Acholi Sub Region have suffered this time of Global covid-19 pandemic more than during the two decades LRA conflict in Northern Uganda. 490 school pupils became expectant girl’s child, and we are now in a total zero learning situation.” Rev. Ocheng Ochen wondered.

The Omoro District Education Officer says currently primary schools in his area have to return UGX 190 million capitation grant, while 7 Senior Secondary School will lose UGX 140 million for the second term. The total loss that education is facing in capitation grants for the second term that should have been ending in August this year 2020 amounts to UGX 330 million.

“We have 68 primary schools in Omoro and we are not able to maintain even water sanitation in the next year 2021, because now most of the boreholes in these primary schools will be non functioning as we do not have money to repair them. Can’t you imagine that we have lost 493 pupils who got pregnant? We are suffering in this global COVID-19pandemic more than during LRA over two decade’s unrest” Rev. Ocheng Ochen
The school Capitalization grant various from school to school, for a case of Agweno Primary School, second term Universal Primary Education grant gets UGX 1 million while bigger primary Schools get Capitation Grant higher of UGX 4 million per schools
Adding that the most important thing that the Ministry of Education is not looking at is that schools need like maintaining skeleton staff to keep at schools, we have to employ security guards to mind schools and also the schools compounds are to be kept clean.
He also reasons that only 10 percent of pupils have access to learning through radio and Television programs and this is mainly with pupils who live within urban areas near Gulu City.
The District Education Officer urged that the School learning program, lessons through radio programs in rural communities like in Omoro District face problems such as access to dry cells and also access to radio by the poor parents also hinder the learning process.
Akena Caesar, Gulu District Education Officer is optimistic about the COVID-19 pandemic lock-down, says so far as Gulu District Education Officer, his office is monitoring school learning programs both on radio and Television.

“For me I don’t look at negativity, whoever told you that the Ministry of Education order for the returning capitalization grant did he show you the order paper.” Akena Gulu D.E.O. Fumed before hanging up his phone.

Dickson OJOK Secretary for Education in Pader Local Government decries that the COVID-19 pandemic has affected education standards more than before.

Adding that it has affected 932 girls who got pregnant during the pandemic, according to him he has done head count Pader district and his finding are as follow:

In the Sub County of Laguti 22 school girls got pregnant, Angagura Sub County 58 pregnant school girls, Atanga Sub County his report finding shows that there are 135 school girls who got pregnant, Awere Sub County 85 school girls got pregnant, Laguti Sub County 34 school girls got pregnant, Acoli-bur Sub County are the victim of the COVID-19 pandemic pregnancy. Others are Lapul 69 school girls and Ogom Sub County 41 school girls.

Francis Olwoch, the District Education Officer commented that for them in Pader they have not remitted the Capitalization grant to the ministry of education saying they have used in on COVID activities hence they have not been affected by the program Olwoch says when the letter came they had already transferred the money to local government saying thus “when we received the order from the Ministry of Education, we were advised to use the money for COVID-19 pandemic” he says.

“We wrote the letter back to the Ministry of Education and bought a mooing machine to keep all schools clean, and the ministry agreed that we should do according to our programs.” Olwoch urged.

Olwoch reiterates that they have implemented the Ministry of Education’s 38 the pre-condition to open school directive by Dr.Ruth Jane Aceng Minister of Health that stipulated the Standard Operation Procedure.

In schools where PASCAR Program for schools construction is being done in Pader District, the construction company has constructed classrooms that can accommodate pupils as per standard operation procedure needed for social distance for COVID-19 pandemic.

17 years old, Emmanuel Oloya.Form four students from Gulu Senior Secondary School in Gulu are reading very hard, want to become an Electrical Engineer.

Oloya says he reads at night when a lot of noise is not there, when people are settled. And he reads science books like physic, mathematics although he is balanced with social study.

Oloya worry is that a lot of girl’s student and pupils during the COVID-19 pandemic many of them got pregnant, “I am sorry to say that the number could reach 5,000.” Oloya admitted.

“My advice to my fellow students is that they should read hard during this lock-down, so that when the lockdown is lifted we go back to school when we are at the same pace.”

Charles Ojengole, the Program Coordinator of World Vision International says one thing that we must appreciate is the safety and security of every child is the collectability of stakeholder.

He argues that we cannot talk in isolation, we need to protect the life of those children, we appreciate the children staying especially the girl child, it’s time that the girl child has been defiled. Its issues that requires to work together with the government, cultural, religious leader and children themselves.

World Vision has the numbers of programs to strengthen partners with the local community and all the institutions to end violence against children. We have been sensitizing the community through Acholi cultural chiefdom (Ker Kwaro Acholi). We have been engaging with stakeholders to provide safety with children.

Ojengole noted that educating people on prevention against violence against children they are advocating for prevention and response on issues that support children.

“Anyone can report to the authorities, we know when lock-down happened, we emphasize that the schools are close, the message was that stay home, stay safe.” Gulu World Vision reechoed. Now home is not safe with children and the community is not safe for girl children, “What I am telling as education should continue, we are talking with both District Education of Omoro and Gulu Districts. As World Vision, education should” Charles Ojengole urged.

He questioned how. Because we can support the children, we are looking for ways to support children through learning. Most of those programs are for home, because learning, the materials that have been designed and approved by the Ministry of Education, these are, we have reproduced from Primary One to Primary Seven.

He admitted that they don’t want children to lose hope, we want them to continue mental engagement so that their capacity and potential mature.

Added that even if they are at home, we believe that when we engage them, when the schools re-open so that they can learn better.

He stressed that the materials are in two categories, donated from support officers, the USA, these materials are worth UGX 4 million. They material cost are 25,078, Ojengole acknowledge.

Then they have the material bought by the Uganda government, it is worth 593 million the total copies 72, 478 text books.

Finally, what is going to happen, we are engaging with the teachers to reach out to children in their home, we want them also to help them in their home base learning.
“Teacher we are going to provide physical support with those children under CVA children voice and action”

Geoffrey Moses Owot Gulu University Don, faculty of Business, department of Economic and Statistic commented that the economic aspect on COVID-19 pandemic, well when we talk of economic impact then we should also look for value for money.

The government sent money to the school in terms of capitalization grant, and people who paid money, the government always sent money and they want accountability work done, he said.

He further argues he always wants to improve on latrine, keeping compounds clean and pay school security to guard school facilities. However, if schools take back the money, they will begin from little far away or some schools which did not take back the money they are better off than when the school term began.

In fact why the government funding is meant to expand schools structures, the most challenges with money returning money from school will be bushy.

Economic aspect for the parents who have paid the money when the lock-down happened, that money is like sung cost. If the parents had cleared the school fees that money they should have profited from in doing other business those parents literally lost.

“That money is redundant money that aspect parents are facing economic impact of social issues, family who could be affording medicine who paid fees with children, economic standard of social impact is so much on parents facing feeding and health care provision, all that actually.” Owot urged.

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