November 15, 2021

Day

First Lady advocates for parenting seminars

By Ivan Tsebeni
Uganda’s First Lady Janet K. Museveni has asked parents to be responsible and nurture their children to love God, arguing that such a move will reduce crimes in the country.

Mrs. Museveni, also Minister of Education and Sports, said many parents do not want to take responsibility for their children. She has called for more parenting seminars “so that we can let them know that educating their children is a shared responsibility.” 

During a recent virtual public lecture held at Uganda Christian University (UCU)’s Principal’s Hall, Mrs. Museveni urged listeners to make God’s word the foundation of their lives when it comes to issues of the family.   

Parenting in Uganda has faced challenges, especially during the Covid-19 pandemic, where many schools have been shut since March 2020, with the exception of the months of March to May 2021 (when upper primary, secondary and tertiary institutions were open). 

According to Mrs. Museveni, because of deficient parental support during the lockdown, some children have been exploited by “wrong people” and now parents are blaming the government. Different studies during the lockdown in Uganda have revealed an increase in the number of children who have been sexually abused during the lockdown.

During a televised address in September 2021, President Museveni announced that primary and secondary schools would reopen in January 2022 for in-person learning. Already, universities and tertiary schools were opened for in-person learning on November 1, 2021.  

In March 2020, Uganda closed schools for in-person learning to reduce the rate of the spread of the coronavirus. The shutdown on schools for in-person learning was lifted in March 2021, but reinstated three months later, after a spike in the number of infections had increased by 137%. 

Guest Speaker Lady Justice Catherine Bamugemereire gives her keynote address.
Guest Speaker Lady Justice Catherine Bamugemereire gives her keynote address.

During the virtual lecture held under the theme “Christian family in the postmodern era,” Justice Catherine Bamugemereire of Uganda’s Court of Appeal noted that the process of nurturing good children is under threat because marriages are increasingly becoming unsustainable in Uganda.

Bamugemereire said when she joined the Family Division of the High Court in 2013, before moving to the Court of Appeal, she found 50 divorce cases that had been filed. She noted, however, that the number of divorce cases being reported has almost tripled now.

Bamugemereire, who was the guest speaker, noted that one of the adverse effects of social media is people constantly looking up to celebrities for marriage advice, which has put many families on a slippery path because some of the celebrities also have challenges in their marriages.

UCU Vice Chancellor Assoc. Prof. Aaron Mushengyezi advised Christians to stick to one wife

Vice Chancellor Aaron Mushengyezi speaks during the public lecture at UCU Principal’s Hall.
Vice Chancellor Aaron Mushengyezi speaks during the public lecture at UCU Principal’s Hall.

and husband for better and strong families as stated in Genesis 2:24. 

The Dean of the UCU School of Dentistry,

Dr. James Magara re-echoed Justice Bamugemereire’s view on raising children.

 “In homes today, both parents are now working,” he said. Regardless of how busy you are… raise your children deliberately, find out what they are up to, it may be a difficult time but you will overcome it.” 

Magara asked parents not to let schools and the Government take over the responsibility of raising up their children. 

“Education is more about the family’s role than the state,” he said.

UCU welcomes students for in-person studies

By Joseph Lagen
For the first time in five months, Uganda Christian University (UCU) welcomed students on its campuses for in-person learning. The development follows a September directive by Uganda President Yoweri Museveni, allowing universities to commence physical teaching after education institutions were shut in June 2021, after a second wave of Covid-19.

According to an October 28 letter to all students and staff of UCU, Vice-Chancellor Assoc. Prof. Aaron Mushengyezi said freshly admitted first-year students who joined in September would report on November 1 for additional orientation sessions. Mushengyezi said the first-year students would then migrate to blended learning – online and in-person – starting December 4 before they sit for their exams from January 3 to 17, 2022.

Two freshman girls drag suitcases through the main gate to check into university halls of residence. Courtesy photo.
Two freshman girls drag suitcases through the main gate to check into university halls of residence. Courtesy photo.

“Continuing students who have been studying virtually will report on November 8, 2021, for face-to-face classes in a phased manner,” Mushengyezi wrote, noting that they will then take their examinations from December 4 to 17, 2021. 

UCU Communications Manager Frank Obonyo said the institution is not allowing all the continuing students at once because of “escorting potential health risk.” 

“We prioritized first years – the rest will have blended studies,” he said.

Museveni directed all education institutions to close, starting June 7, to reduce concentration centers that the government argued were increasing infection rates of the pandemic. At the time, the Covid-19 cases in the country had gone up by 137%. It was the second time that education institutions were closed in Uganda as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. 

In March 2020, Uganda closed all schools to reduce the chances of Covid-19 infection on learners. In October 2020, final-year students were allowed back to school for in-person learning as they prepared to take examinations. The rest of the classes, with the exception of lower primary, were allowed back to school for in-person learning starting March 2021. However, that excitement was cut short by a surge in the Covid-19 infection rate, necessitating the closing of schools in Uganda, again after only three months of opening. 

On June 18, 2021, the Ugandan government imposed a total lockdown on movement, with the Covid-19 positivity rate at 17% at the time. However, the lockdown was lifted at the end of July 2021, with many of the sectors of the economy being opened for operations. For the sectors that are still closed, such as the entertainment industry and bars, Museveni said in a televised address on October 28 that they will be opened fully in January 2022, whether people go for Covid-19 vaccinations or not.

According to the President, by the end of December 2021, the country will have received 23 million doses of Covid-19 vaccines of two per person for more than 12 million people, including 4.8 million frontline workers.

As UCU welcomes its staff and students for in-person learning, the institution has set up its university health facility, the Allan Galpin Health Centre, for vaccinations. The condition for in-person learning, according to Government, is that all institution staff and students above 18 years should be vaccinated. 

Despite the two lockdowns – of 2020 and 2021 – on education institutions, UCU continued with online learning. At UCU’s 22nd graduation ceremony held on October 22, Uganda’s First Lady and Education Minister Janet Museveni congratulated the institution for its “robust online education programme” and encouraged the university to share best practices with other institutions. 

At a recent virtual dialogue to discuss the impact of Covid-19 on academic institutions, Mushengyezi said UCU had invested in infrastructure of electronic learning and, therefore, “has something to share with other institutions.” 

Due to the robust online operations infrastructure, Obonyo said UCU was able to conduct online semesters, plus other virtual activities, such as virtual guild elections, conferences, and pre-entry exams for students for courses in law, medicine, and dentistry. 

The university has locally developed two online applications to supplement the use of tutoring e-services in its operations. These are the Alpha MIS for student registration and the E-Chagua, which the university uses during virtual elections. 

Among some of its other virtual activities, from October 14-16, the UCU Faculty of Journalism, Media and Communication (FJMC) hosted the 10th Annual East African Communication Association Conference. 

++++++++++++++++++++++