The Education official at the UEC said that parents in the country had, however, welcomed the reopening of schools with excitement.
“This is welcome news in all parts of the country. The schools’ closure in Uganda has been the longest in the world and everyone was frustrated,” Fr. Okello who has served at the Education department for four years said, and added, “As a department, we are a big stakeholder in the country’s education matters and we were constantly being pestered to push for the reopening of schools.”
Aljazeera reports that child rights groups had criticized Uganda’s decision to keep schools fully or partially closed for 83 weeks, longer than anywhere else in the world.
As schools remained closed in Uganda, the Education department at the UEC carried out various activities to keep in touch with learners, including organizing talk shows in collaboration with the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF).
The Education department of the Catholic Bishops in Uganda also organized sessions with parents on key family care practices, Fr. Okello told ACI Africa during the January 12 interview.
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In Uganda, the Catholic Education department links the country’s ministry of Education and Sports in terms of policy formulation and guidance.
The department also oversees the teaching of religious education in schools in the country, Fr. Okello told ACI Africa.
He explained, “We see to it that religious education is appreciated in our schools. At the moment, we are having a discussion about the new curriculum that has made the teaching of religious education optional at a certain level. We want the subject to be made mandatory to all learners at the basic level.”
Additionally, the education department oversees quality assurance in Uganda’s tertiary institutions and also runs the Catholic Schools Youth ministry as part of an international evangelization ministry in learning institutions.
The department is also in charge of the Integrated Early Childhood Development where it runs various projects for children from infant stage to primary level in partnership with UNICEF.
Among activities lined up in the department as schools in Uganda reopen is the plan to be “more close to learners and schools,” Fr. Okello told ACI Africa January 12.
“We want to reconstruct the Catholic image in our schools. We realize that we have lost a lot in terms of membership in Catholic movements in schools. Some of these movements have died and we have plans to revive them,” the member of the Clergy of Uganda’s Gulu Archdiocese said.