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Students in Uganda stay away from schools following an epidemic of Ebola

Neelam Rahim | neelam@radioislam.co.za

4 min read | 13:45 pm CAT

The Madudu Church of Uganda elementary school is eerily quiet following a pestilence of Ebola, which is keeping children away.

The sub-county in Mubende District is the epicentre of a recently announced disease outbreak.

There have already been several deaths, and parents are keeping their children at home rather than taking risks.

Robert Kasirye is the deputy headteacher at Mubende Church of Uganda School and says the impact on student numbers has been tremendous.

“The school enrolment is 692 pupils, now we have only 16. It’s due to Ebola. Parents fear their pupils to be stricken by this, we are able to say it’s a pandemic disease.”

Even some teachers are opting to remain home in fear of catching the virus, which appears to be spreading. That’s despite government advice for schools to stay open.

David Ssali is a teacher at Madudu CoU elementary school and says: “We have sensitised them and showed them a number of the materials, which were available to us but still they have that fear due to seeing the way children and other old people are dying.”

But there are concerns students in Madudu are at a disadvantage compared to other parts of the country as they miss classes and even exams.

The Uganda National Examinations Board, the body mandated to line exams for all schools within the country, recently released its examination roadmap for 2022.

Rosemary Byabashaija, head of Mubende District Ebola Task Force, is keen to ensure children don’t miss out on their education.

“The curriculum within the entire country is one; the other schools are going on,” she says. “This is the last term in the year. They’re going to all sit for their exams, and they will not say Mubende will sit over again. They are going to sit at the same time.

“So, i would propose and appeal to our teachers and leaders to see that we just must improve the measures of, seeing that individuals aren’t entering into direct contact with one another, but the classes and schools should continue.”

Authorities are encouraging schools to place extra measures in place to reassure parents.

The latest outbreak of Ebola was announced on 20 September. Since then, there have been over 35 positive cases, with many unaccounted for deaths.

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