The National Council for Higher Education (NCHE) has released guidelines that all universities and other tertiary institutions should adhere to as they prepare to reopen next month.
President Museveni who closed all education institutions in June cleared universities and other tertiary institutions to reopen on November 1.
NCHE guidelines indicate that freshman students will be given priority when the institutions reopen.
The executive director of NCHE, Prof Mary Okwakol, said such priority is intended to “create room for new entrants, with focus on study programmes that have heavy hands-on-content.”
Students who wrote their 2020 Uganda Advanced Certificate of Education (UACE) exams are also slated to join universities and other tertiary institutions. This, though, will not be possible until the current students in First Year progress to Second Year.
Institutions cannot handle double classes, especially in light of the pandemic restrictions such as physical distancing. They have also been asked to reopen in a phased manner and are required to submit their programmes to the NCHE for approval.
“Every institution should prepare and submit to the NCHE a customised programme that will ensure reopening of its facilities in a staggered manner. The staggering should enable the institutions to conform to standard operating procedures (SOPS),” Prof Okwakol said at the weekend.
She added: “Institutions that have had approval by the NCHE to implement Open Distance E-learning system should continue with virtual teaching and learning of students not on campus. Those which have not yet applied for approval are encouraged to apply.”
Institutions should also submit progress updates to the NCHE, providing the status on staff and students vaccination. The updates should capture details of resumption, including how progressive learning has been managed.
The government has also warned institutions against additional fees for completion of a semester. Prior to the closure of institutions in June, students in universities had studied for only one month with the majority having paid their tuition. This means when they return, they shouldn’t pay tuition.
Institutions have also been asked to put in place the SOPs as outlined by the Ministry of Health.
“The National Council in conjunction with the district Covid-19 taskforces will continue monitoring the institutions to ensure compliance of the SOPs,” Prof Okwakol said.
The NCHE guidelines come at a time when most institutions have already formulated their programmes for reopening.
Makerere University has for instance revealed that only students offering sciences courses will report to campus when institutions reopen.
Students offering arts courses will continue studying online and only report on campus to write exams. Makerere University Vice Chancellor Prof Barnabas Nawangwe said the new plan aims at adherence to social distance.
Elsewhere, the Vice Chancellor of Kyambogo University, Prof Eli Katunguka, said the first year students will spend the whole semester studying on campus because they had studied for a few weeks before they closured. Prof Katunguka also said students with heavy practical work and special needs will study physically on campus as the rest study remotely.
“We plan to complete our first semester in December, break off and resume our second semester next year up to April. We shall then plan to bring on board the current senior six leavers who sat for the 2020 UACE,” he said.
• All Institutions should ensure that the designated teaching and accommodation facilities conform to the Mninitry of Health requirements for social distancing.
• Staff who work in congested offices where social distancing is not possible should work on scheduled duty rosters.
• All students, staff and other persons entering the Institutions’ premises must wear facemasks.
• Entry for other persons will be restricted.
• All students and staff must go through designated points of screening, including temperature measurement.
• Anyone with a temperature of 37.60C and above will be required to stay at the screening point for two more assessments. Such a person will not be allowed to proceed inside the Institution until he or she cleared by the screening team.
• All buildings, including students’ halls of residence/hostels, will have a hand washing unit.
• Institutions to draw clear institutional medical and related waste management plans.
• No hand shaking or hugging until the Ministry of Health guides otherwise.
• Anyone with a cough or cold should stay at home.