On January 10th, 2022, Uganda’s schools reopened after what may be the world’s longest pandemic-related closure. Since the closure of schools in March 2020, there have been limited opportunities for in-person education and schools had not been fully reopened until this month. An estimated one-third of students will not return to school in Uganda this month. Given the length of the shutdown, many students were pressured to find work and help their families financially. Without school to attend, many secondary school students got married and began families of their own. Additionally, a significant number of teachers have left their teaching positions to find alternative employment and other schools have had to close their doors due to financial constraints. According to a recent article in the New York Times, an estimated 3,507 elementary and 832 high schools in Uganda will remain permanently closed.
PCAU is working to ensure the Road to Hope children have the resources they need to return to school and be successful this month. The PCAU team shared that “All of our children have been eagerly and anxiously waiting to go back to school. They were tired of staying home!” For students whose schools did not reopen, PCAU is seeking alternative school placements that provide a high-quality education and strong social support for the RTH children.
Current estimates suggest that 4% of Uganda’s population is fully vaccinated and 22.8% have received at least one dose. To reopen schools safely, teachers are one of the Ministry of Health’s priority groups. In an article from Bloomberg earlier this month, it was reported by Uganda’s Ministry of Education that 73% of teachers have had their first dose. While vaccination rates rise daily, low vaccine accessibility, shortages of cold chain storage equipment and myths surrounding the vaccine remain hurdles to Uganda’s COVID-19 vaccination efforts.