COVID-19 is an illness caused by a new Corona virus that severely affects the respiratory system when left to grow in the body system without intervention (WHO 2020). Uganda’s early interventions to this Pandemic in March 2020 were informed by the WHO guidelines on prevention and control as well as from lessons learnt from past successes against highly infectious viral outbreaks such as Ebola. Additionally, Uganda’s Ministry of Health (MoH) strategy against COVID-19 was anchored on the Public Health Act (Cap 281) that provides for state intervention to issue emergency measures in times of infections.
Led by the President, task forces at national, district and sub-county local government levels were named and facilitated with information and resources for countrywide surveillance, awareness creation and response.
Uganda had to respond to COVID-19 by closing all learning facilities. Over 73,000 institutions and 15,000,000 students were therefore affected and have had to stay at home as a result of precautionary measures code named Standard Operating Procedures (SoPs) that included lock-down. However, for School Institutions, the lock down was first lifted on 20th September 2020 only to cater for PLE, O’Level, A’Level candidates and University finalists.
While institutions now prepare to reopen their gates and classrooms to learners throughout the country in April 2021, the Guild Governments in their strategic roles of supporting the University/Tertiary Institutions’ administration at the apex of management as well as the student body below, face more challenges that require a rethink, change of strategy and practices.
The Covid 19 Pandemic and its constraining environment of SoPs imposes practical challenges that make it difficulty in upholding certain aspects of the Guild constitutions and require dropping certain activities and adopting new ways of conducting guild businesses. For example have to find creative ways of inducting Freshers, holding student general assemblies, student feedback forums (bringing together their respective constituent colleges/faculties/departments and hostels), etc without physically congregating in large numbers that can become spreader events. Other challenges to the guild governments stem from reduced budgets due to smaller numbers of students enrolled which is to allow for social distancing as required by government.
These challenges have therefore come with additional necessities to mobilize and strategize with different stakeholders such as students, Institution’s administrations, boda boda stage operators, hostel owners, restaurant vendors in the campus and surrounding areas where students’ hostels are located to adopt and enforce regulations, attitudes and behaviours that can truly make the learning and student living environments free of covid.
Although the pandemic has affected many countries differently and has attracted varied response from global leaders, national governments and community leaders, the pandemic has been a huge inequality amplifier in developing countries like Uganda.
Whereas some students have all the conditions for successful remote learning, a comfortable and quiet place to study with good broadband connectivity; others have not been that lucky. They have siblings to care for, very poor internet connectivity or none, sometimes parents being sick and bedridden or out of work. To these, the lockdown and prolonged stay at home or even the luxury of online study recommended by government during the long stay home, have not been easy or practical.
While the children of the rich and well to do have continued to study and advance, the children of the poor or in less privileged communities have been adversely affected.
The reopening of school institutions by government of Uganda to all learners except nursery schools has therefore come as a huge relief. With these have also come challenges for leaders and governance institutions. There is need for leaders to creatively evolve, adopt and undertake measures, decisions and actions that will not only enable effective learning and smooth administration of these institutions to take place but also ensure that these institutions truly remain safe environments and are free of covid 19.
For the Guild governments this therefore requires increased knowledge of the pandemic among their rank and file, change of attitude and behaviors on how to adopt SoPs as a new normal and mobilize workable solidarity among the different stakeholders to achieve these.
This Mentorship activity seeks to look into roles and explore appropriate strategies that can be adopted by Guild Leaders to enable them manage Guild Institutions and play their roles better for effective learning to take place while ensuring that these institutions remain safe and free of covid 19.
To be part of this Discussion Please register using the link below:
You are invited to a Zoom meeting.
When: Apr 9, 2021 10:30 AM
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