When President Museveni instituted the first lockdown on March18, 2020 to curb the spread of Covid-19, schools were the first to be affected.
This meant that children were now in the hands of their parents for long.
Experts in Mbarara District say parents’ ability to nurture their children was exposed as many failed to keep them at home.
Mr Gabriel Ahimbisibwe, the district education officer, said when schools were opened for the candidate classes, few learners turned up.
“In our 2020 Primary Leaving Examinations (PLE), out of 6,131 pupils that registered to sit for PLE in the district, 313 did not sit for their examinations. Reports indicate that some got married or got jobs,” Mr Ahimbisibwe said.
Dr Alice Mwesigwa, a lecturer and the president of Mothers Union Ankole Diocese, said Covid-19 came with so many challenges in families.
“A parent’s primary responsibility is taking care of a child but they started crying barely a month into the lockdown. Most parents have entrusted their roles with schools and government to the extent that some want their children to go back to school when safety has not been guaranteed,” Dr Mwesigwa said.
“Some of the primary roles of a parent include providing an environment that is safe, teaching morals and values, getting to know your child and ensuring discipline but what is being witnessed in our communities exposes weakness in parenting roles,” she added.
Former Mbarara Woman MP Emma Boona said the closure of schools was a wake up call for parents.
“Parenting roles have been left in the hands of schools, caretakers even during holidays. Children get out of their parents’ direct care as early as two years to start daycare. What has happened during this lockdown is a wakeup call. We should go back to our cultures and take responsibility for our children, not schools, TVs and caretakers,” Ms Boona said.
Ms Kellen Ayebazibwe, the district inspector of schools, said some parents pushing for the reopening of schools are not interested in education.
“Most of the parents I interact with want schools opened to keep children away because they have become a burden. This shows some level of parents’ irresponsibility,” she said.
Ms Hamida Nalubega , a parent in Kakoba, Mbarara City, said she had to rescue her son from the streets in August last year.
“He started coming home late after playing with friends. The day I tried to discipline him, he never came back. We traced him for a week until a neighbour sighted him with fellow street children and informed us,” she said.