By Ritah Kemigisa
Experts have warned that keeping pre primary school going children aged between three and six out of school will not only affect their brain development but will also hurt the economy.
On Friday, the education minister Janet Museveni nursery schools handling children of this age bracket would remain closed throughout the covid-19 season citing among other issues; the fact that they can not wear masks and yet are at high risk of contracting respiratory infections like coronavirus.
Dr Mary Goretti Nakabugo, the Executive Director of Uwezo Uganda says its is perturbing since it is uncertain when the pandemic will be over and yet this education level is a strong foundation in improving literacy, learning outcomes and drop out levels.
“Our own learning assessment research shows that children who are exposed to at least two years of pre primary education, catch up easily with literacy and numeracy, hardly repeat class or even drop out of school,” says Dr Nakabugo
Manuela Mulondo, an early childhood stakeholder and also founder, The cradle, says failure to attend early childhood education, ECD will cost government its ambition to become a middle income country since it will hinder human capital and future labor force productivity.
“ Government says they do not want ECD, because there was a time we never had it, that’s why moreover we are a third world country. First world countries invest in ECD because they know it will build its human capital development which is key in economic growth,” says Ms Mulondo adding that with children staying at home, many mothers are now going to be forced out of employment and cases of Domestic gender based violence are likely to increase.
Child rights activists, Early childhood educators, care providers and business owners among others have started a campaign to petition the education minister so that they devise means of ensuring there continuous learning for pre primary children.
“ We understand where government is coming from but we are just saying there are certain cases they did not consider, the people who came with this policy did not look deeper, we see what you are saying but there is an angle that we want to present to the first lady,” says Ms Mulondo who is leading this campaign.
A study carried out by professors from the University of Melbourne on the impact of covid19 on pre schools kids showed that the pandemic has affected children’s development while many have been traumatized and stressed.