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Support to deliver quality and equitable education in Uganda

The COVID-19 pandemic has led to a world-wide closure of learning institutions affecting over 1.5 billion learners and 63 million teachers globally. This has led countries to look for alternative forms of delivering education so that that learning continues. The option of distance education using traditional mass media platforms like radio and TV and online teaching and learning platforms to reach the large number of learners compelled to stay at home, are being used in varying degrees.

In Uganda, the closure of educational institutions on 18 March 2020 has disrupted learning for over 15 million students and 548,000 teachers. The Ministry of Education and Sports consequently developed a COVID-19 Education response plan which among others, supports continuity of learning through multiple solutions – eLearning, printed self-study packs, radio and TV broadcasts and social media platforms. As schools are unlikely to open soon, there is need to discuss widely how the COVID-19 Education response plan can better be supported and implemented.

In order to support countries in the continuity of learning both during and post-COVID-19 periods, UNESCO had mobilised UN agencies, technology partners, continental/regional organizations, NGOs/CSO to accompany countries which have now moved to country level engagement with government, UN Resident Coordinator and other education stakeholders.  In Uganda, the country-level engagement meeting took place on 6th May 2020, bringing together participants from government, UN System, Local Education Group, technology partners and other Development Partners. Ms. Ann Therese Ndong Jatta, Director of UNESCO Regional Office for Eastern Africa, Nairobi, under-scored the promise of the development community to “Leave No One Behind” in the 2030 development agenda. She commended the partners for ensuring that learning must not stop.

The lockdowns should not mean the minds are also locked.
Ms. Ann Therese Ndong Jatta, Director of UNESCO Regional Office for Eastern Africa

Other stakeholders that participated included the UN Resident Coordinator, Rosa Malango; UNICEF Country Representative, Doreen Mulenga; Secretary-General Uganda National Commission for UNESCO (UNATCOM), Rosie Agoi; Director Basic and Secondary Education; Zhan Tao, Director of UNESCO IITE; Alexander Brecx, Belgian Embassy & Chair of Education Development Partners in Uganda. The UN Resident Coordinator, Rosa Malango, appreciated UNESCO, and reaffirmed commitment of her office to support the regional Initiative to drive the agenda for Continued Learning during COVID-19 situation. She highlighted the open space offered by the government of Uganda that has enabled a coordinated response and support during COVID-19 pandemic period. She informed the meeting of the UN flash appeal in Uganda which provides for inclusion of the most vulnerable people to access services, including learning. She thanked UNESCO for the coordination and leadership in guiding the new way of learning and working. Ms. Rosie Agoi, the Secretary-General of UNATCOM, appreciated the Ministry and the Education partners for supporting COVID-19 National Response plan. She highlighted the need to improve on the education data for planning and decision making. She further re-echoed the need to ensure that the response plan covers all sub-sectors of education.

Some of the partners expressed interest in providing support while others shared information on solutions that are available to support the country using digital tools, online content and free online courses, among others. The meeting agreed to strengthen and work through the already existing structures to support Ministry of Education and Sports Task Force.

Video of the meeting preceedings