By Faith Nyasuguta
Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni has said that schools will reopen next year despite the low uptake of Covid-19 vaccines.
As a Covid-19 measure, Ugandan schools have been shut for nearly two years, since March 2020.
“Be informed that the schools will be opened in January and the rest of the economy will be opened in the same month,” Museveni said.
“Vaccination is key to the reopening of the economy,” he said, despite less than three million jabs having been rolled out for a population of about 45 million.
For months now, residents have shown reluctance to get jabbed despite Museveni indicating that “right now 4.7 million vaccines” are available with a further 23 million doses expected by the end of 2021.
“By the end of December 2021, 12 million people should have been vaccinated,” forecast Museveni, including vulnerable people and health and education workers.
Museveni, who do has been in power since 1986, called on Ugandans to “walk to the health centres or be carried there … go by motorcycle taxi, go by bicycle or go by vehicle and be immunised”.
“Even if you don’t come out for vaccination, we will open the schools and the economy,” he said.
“If anything goes wrong, the moral responsibility is yours.”
In September, Museveni lifted the bulk of COVID-19-related restrictions in the nation that has seen over 3,000 deaths from the virus, but he left schools still shut down.
A number of learners have already taken up menial jobs to boost their families during he pandemic.
“Sometimes you get little money like … 10,000 shillings ($2.80),” 17-year-old Mathias Okwako, who works at a gold mine in eastern Uganda, said.
A number of teachers have already changed their career lines to help provide for them and their families.
Some already vowed never to return to the classrooms amid claims that they would never be able to make a living with many schools heavily indebted. Several institutions have also converted to hotels or restaurants.