Legislators Wrong to Decline Open Discussion and Consultation from Minister Ahead of School Reopening

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By Vincent Mutegeki

Over the past few days, I have read news both on social media and our main stream media about the threat by a section of opposition legislators to boycott meeting that was being organized by the minister of Education and Sports Minister, also first lady, Hon Janet Kataaha Museveni.

The meeting was to be held at Kololo Independence ground on Wednesday 24th, 2021 but was postponed to a date yet to be announced.

This was meant to consult the law makers and other stakeholders as the preparations for reopening of schools in January, 2022 continue.

β€œI have got a communication from the First Lady, the minister of Education requesting to have a meeting with the members of Parliament on Wednesday next week. And the meeting is going be on the issues of opening schools, so you will be expected to have a Covid test on Monday, as you prepare for the meeting on Wednesday at 10 am in Kololo for you to give guidance on the ministry since you are the leaders on the ground,” Deputy Speaker of parliament said, Anita Among informed the house.

Unfortunately, majority of our opposition legislators read this request from totally a negative angle.

As a father of 4 children, I have watched my children filled with questions and anxiety about the possibility of dying due to Covid-19. I had to hire a therapist to talk to them about Covid and they have since understood that if they continue following the set Government SOPs there is no need to worry.

However, not so many parents can afford hiring a therapist. This means that as we send the children out, they cannot be handled as they used to be handled. A lot has since changed and initiatives have to be made to meet the current emotion and physical state of children.

So many stories have been told on how covid-19 pandemic has affected the teachers. These are the same teachers that will be expected to do magic and teach our children who are the leaders of tomorrow.

Aldo Ocen, 65, a teacher at Ayomjeri primary school in Aber sub county, Oyam district recently committed suicide apparently because of covid related debt.

In Kamuli District,Β Jimmy Buyonga, 32, a teacher at Kasambira Preparatory primary school in Bugulumbya sub-county reportedly committed suicide by hanging himself at the school premisesΒ allegedly due to accumulated debts.

Dansan Twesime, a teacher at Nyamiti Primary school and a resident of Nyamiti Cell in Muhorro Town Council Kagadi district allegedly committed suicide by hanging too.

These and more appalling experiences have continued to befall the sector since Uganda went into its first lock down in March, 18th, 2020.

As a parent, I find it very strange for our Members of Parliament to continue treating casually the government proposal to reopen schools.

The proposed meeting with the MPs by the Minister was unfairly aborted, maliciously politicized by a group of legislators whose mindsets are grounded on opposing every little government initiative.

In his recent address to the country, President Yoweri Museveni revealed that Schools and the whole economy will be open in January next year, therefore any consultation with stakeholders on school reopening is well thought intentions.

If the opposition legislators are sensitive on promoting national interest, they wouldn’t have boycotted this meeting, it’s only logical enough to discuss, dialogue on issues of national importance above our political affiliation.

New policies need to be put in place to support the education changes that have transpired in the past 2 years. There will be need to plan for Teacher and student psychosocial support programs.

When people like Hon. Ssemujju Nganda says it’s against the parliamentary rules of procedures to call the MPs for consultation, how then can we discuss, dialogue or even consult relevant stakeholders including MPs on such matter? Education is a universal matter and the MPs need to understand that.

Politics should be put aside in matters of interests of the Nation and citizens.

The minister by requesting for the meeting at Kololo air strip is based on grounds that the place is very big enough to cater for all the number of MPs while observing social distance after all it was not going to be the first time Β parliament meeting in that place.

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