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Statement by Minister Janet Museveni on safety against Ebola during PLE

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Statement by Minister Janet Museveni on safety against Ebola during PLE

Good afternoon to you my listeners!

I want to begin by thanking God who has brought us this far in this year and in this Examinations season in our sector of Education. We know that we have over 1.28 million children sitting these exams in this season. 

As you all know, these exams began earlier on in the month of October on the 17th with the lower secondary – S.4. But I thought that this time round, as we enter a new week, when P.L.E is beginning, I would come to you to clarify some issues so that all of us and all our stakeholders in the education sector, especially in the primary sub-sector now, do agree with us and also the parents as we walk together on this journey as we start P.L.E next week.   

As you are aware, the country is facing a different but not a new enemy in the form of the Ebola Virus and the outbreak has been on now for some time. As a sector, we recognize and appreciate UNIECF for the support extended to our Education Institutions of learning in the highly affected districts of Mubende and Kasanda.

Therefore, together with the Ministry of Health, we have agreed on the following measures to be observed during this phase of P.L.E. to ensure enhanced safety for the candidates, the invigilators, the UNEB scouts, the UNEB leadership, all those supervising the P.L.E, parents, and other staff during this time of examination.

  1. Now, first and foremost, as a Ministry responsible for Education, we want to reiterate the importance of consistently observing the basic SOPs for the prevention of the spread of the Ebola Virus Disease. I, therefore, urge those listening to me today that please remember that these SOPs are good not just for you alone but even for those around you and the country in general.
  2. I call upon our UNEB monitoring team, invigilators, supervisors, and scouts to be vigilant during this season of P.L.E., U.C.E., and U.A.C.E. Please listen to what the Ministry of Health has prescribed as SOPs for prevention of the spread of Ebola Virus Disease in our country. This is very important. Sometimes the Ministry sends out instructions but some head teachers in some schools decide to defy those instructions. But these instructions are always for the good and safety of everybody especially you who are in schools and supervising this work and the children themselves.
  3. So, I want to reassure the public that as a Ministry, we are working with sister government Ministries, Agencies, and Departments to ensure that we have successful P.L.E. conducted within the broad framework of Ebola SOPs as announced by His

Excellency the President recently.

  • I would like to inform all the school administrators and the public that primary school pupils who are day scholars shall stay away from school during the time when P.7 candidates are sitting P.L.E. This is changing nothing and should not be a problem because day schools normally have children come to school every day and go home every evening. In this season, just to allow the schools to have space for P.L.E, we are saying that the day scholars from P.1 to P.6 should stay home so that P.7 can have all the classrooms to spread out and do their exams. So, all these other day scholars shall stay away from the school during that time when P.7 candidates are sitting P.L.E. Surely this is changing nothing and should not be a problem.     
  • All pupils who are boarding at school but are not in P.7 shall remain at their respective schools during the time when P.L.E. is taking place. I think the parents agree with us this time that it is not necessary to send these children home when they are going to have to come back to school. So we have agreed with the Ministry of Health and now we are clarifying it for the teachers and schools that these boarding primary schools will just stay at school; the children will stay out of class but they will stay in school. I want that to be clear when P.L.E is taking place. Therefore, head teachers must not send away boarding pupils back home during the time of P.L.E. I want that understood clearly. The Ministry has already sent out a circular to this effect. So this is clarifying everything for the public to know how this is going to be done so that there will not be any misunderstandings. 
  • Arrangements have been made together with the Ministry of Health to ensure that P.7 candidates who have been isolated because they are contacts for the Ebola Virus Disease will sit their exams too in a safer manner than we discussed with the Ministry of Health and UNEB. Therefore, no Ebola contact or case that is willing and able to sit their end-of-cycle exams should be denied the opportunity to sit their exams. I want that clarified for everybody to understand. We have decided that these children will sit their exams, but we have agreed with UNEB to make this safe for them and also safe for others. So there will be no movement and no changes, these children will have their exams from where they are.
  • In addition, we have guided UNEB to ensure that as much as possible, learners affected by the Ebola Virus Disease, either as cases or identified contacts, sit their Exams from the very school they have been studying from. So please understand there will be no moving around these children, they will stay right where they are, but they will be empowered to do their exams. 
  • However, if affected pupils are from schools that are close to one another, the Ministry of Health and UNEB shall work to see how such candidates can be transported safely to sit their exams from the same Centre together.
  • The Ministry of Education together with the Ministry of Health are already engaged on how to ensure that once candidates complete their exams in the districts that are currently under lockdown; that is Mubende and Kasanda,  the learners are able to return home in a safer manner that is consistent with preventing the spread of the Ebola Virus Disease. We have discussed this with the Ministry of Health also and agreed on

how this will be done. So, please just stay safe and trust that the system that we have put in place will work for all the children whatever the current problems.

Lastly, I want to assure our learners, parents, and institutions of learning that as a Ministry, we continue to work closely with the Ministry of Health in monitoring the situation. As of now, it is important to consistently adhere to the guidance communicated through Circulars from the Ministry of Education but also the Ministry of Health, and the SOPs that we all know from the Ministry of Health to prevent Ebola from spreading any further than it has done so that we can complete the School Calendar as planned. 

So please help us, every one of you where they are strategically placed, do your work as we pray and cover you in prayers and you pray with us also that God may really help us to see these exams through as we come to the end of the year. 

I thank you for listening to me and I pray that everybody will do their part because all the schools have the circulars from the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Education and now I have tried to do this clarification so that all of us are together and understand how to go about this. I pray that this is some help to everybody and I pray that God will see us through this safely.

I thank you and God Bless you.

Sarah Biryomumaisho is a multitalented freelance journalist with 10 years of experience in broadcast and publishing. She has worked with several radio stations and online publications. Twitter; https://twitter.com/BiryomumaishoB

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