Last week, H.E the President of the Republic of Uganda made yet another address to guide Ugandans on how to conduct themselves in this lockdown. In this highly anticipated address, where the greater portion of the population expected the President to lift the lockdown, Ugandans were slapped with another package of 14 days in order to allow the government distribute free face masks to them before Pharaoh could finally let God’s people go.
The President however hinted on the possibility of having schools and universities opened on June 4th. In that instant, the only possible question that could run in the minds of many, including the President himself was how they could ensure social distancing in these educational institutions once they are opened.
To that end, the President directed that only students who are in the final lap of any level of education shall resume studies, excluding top class nursery pupils of course. This could only mean that students in P.7, S.4, S.6 and University students who are in their final semesters were the only ones that were soon to be given the green light.
Whereas this might work for P.7, S.4 and S.6 students, it is deficient of even the slightest consideration of a University student in his/her final semester and here is why;
Much as these university students might be called finalists, this might not be a direct reflection of their academic records. Some university “finalists” have retakes/re-dos in course units from previous years. For those who may not know, having a retake means that one was below the pass mark (50, for Makerere University) in a given course unit, hence, calling for a correction.
This means the student has to re-sit that specific paper so as to be on normal progress again. Before we go any further, it should be made clear to everyone that having a retake in a certain course unit does not render the student dense, as some dense elements would prefer to term it. It simply means the student did not fully understand and/or grasp some concepts and this is something very normal.
In this semester, which was put on a forced, but necessary halt, a good number of “finalists” were still doing their retakes and expecting to sit for those retaken examinations in order to fully complete their university education. In an event that only finalists report back to university, as per the Presidential directive, it is only logical to conclude that lectures which will be conducted at the universities will be and only be those covering course units of the final semesters.
Where does this leave a “finalist” who had a retake in the previous year? It should be noted that the fee charged per retake of any course unit is 20,000/= if one is still a student at the university (call it having a university ID which is still valid/not expired). However, anyone who has to sit for a course unit when they are no longer valid students could incur a cost that is as high as 400,000/= (estimated value), depending on the credit units a course unit carries.
So, besides missing graduation in January 2021, these “finalists” are also going to face financial constraints. With their graduation hanging in balance, one could even wonder whether such students are indeed “finalists” or just students who are studying their final semesters at the university.
That said, there is need for government to have these affected students put into consideration. The Universities and Ministry of Education & Sports therefore have an obligation to guide the President on the next course of action.
We can’t lie. A survey made shows that students who are bound to be affected are many. When some of them raised concerns, some elements of the public said they were sad that they might not see their girlfriends who are in lower years again and just like that, they were silenced.