Following President Yoweri Museveni’s speech yesterday, where he announced the opening of the international airport and land borders for tourists coming in and going out provided they tested negative for COVID 19 72hours before arrival in Uganda, Rwanda Air has announced that it will resume its operations in and out of Entebbe International Airport on October 1st.
The Rwanda Government-owned airline, with a vision of becoming the airline of obvious choice in the markets they serve and a mission of providing unsurpassed, safe and reliable services in air transportation including strategically linking Rwanda with the outside world, while ensuring a fair return on investment has said that passengers/tourists bound in and out of Entebbe International Airport can start booking.
“Rwanda Air flights to Entebbe are now open for booking effective immediately,” said the Kigali based airline.
President Museveni, while opening the Airport and land borders said “The International Airport and Land borders will now be opened for tourists, coming in and going out, provided they tested negative 72 hours before arrival in Uganda and provided the tour operators ensure that the tourists do not mix with the Ugandans.
“How will this be done? The tourists will be driven straight from the Airport to their destinations or to designated transit hotels that are set aside for that purpose. Business delegations should also be handled in the same way by the Local Partners.
“The returning Ugandans, who have negative PCR results, will be allowed to go home. The Ministry of Health will only get their addresses for follow up.”
President Museveni in his address said they decided to re-open schools for the candidate classes of P-7, S-4, S-6, finalists in tertiary colleges and finalists in Universities.
“Why? Number one, we think that it is safe because the finalists in each learning institution are a much smaller number compared to the total enrollment in these Centres.
“Indeed, the total number of finalists is 1.2million learners out of the total of 15million, less than 10%. Therefore, each group of finalists will have a bigger space for social distancing – whether they are in day schools or boarding schools.
“If they follow the SOPs, they will be safe. Moreover, the cost of waiting any further is quite high. Why? It is because of the jam that will be created in terms of the usual transition from the Primary School, Lower Secondary schools, Higher Secondary Schools, tertiary colleges and universities, respectively.
“If the batch of 2020 do not move on, what will happen to the batch of 2021? Can we afford to have two batches in 2021? The answer is a clear: “no”. Fortunately, it can be done safely if people follow SOPs. A solution for the non-finalist learners will be found by January 2021.
“International schools that have got less numbers, can engage the Ministry of Health on the way forward. The Schools will open for finalists on the 15th of October, 2020. We are aware of the dilemma of the Private Schools that were operating on money from Banks etc.
“We have tried to help the teachers in Private schools by giving them a Ushs. 20BN (twenty billion shillings) grant for their SACCO. We shall continue to study and see how the Government can affordably, further, support these Ugandans – the teachers.
“The schools will now open in the limited way pointed out above. If for some reasons, there are private schools that cannot re-open on account of the obvious disruption of the business of the Private Schools, the Ministry of Education is already directed to expand the number of secondary schools.
“We were assuming a secondary school enrollment of 2 million learners (the current number is 1.6 million learners). If we take one classroom and one teacher to cater for 50 learners, we need 40,000 classrooms and 40,000 classroom teachers.
“If you assume a school of two streams per class up to S.4 and then a science and an Arts class for S.5 and S.6, each will be having 12 classroom units. This will, therefore, mean about 3,340 schools to accommodate the 2 million secondary school learners.
“The Government already has 1,267 Secondary Schools and we are planning to build 374 new ones. I direct the Ministry of Education to study the number of community schools that the Government can take over in the areas that do not have Government Secondary Schools.
“If the worst came to the worst, the Government should have the capacity to absorb into Government schools all the learners and even teachers that are shed off by Private Schools on account of the financial difficulties facing private schools, precipitated by the Covid-19 crisis.
“The Minister of Finance should also meet the owners of the Private Schools and see how the Government could come to their aid. The Government should not only think of rescuing the learners and the teachers and remain oblivious of the plight of those Ugandan entrepreneurs that invested in private schools because they did not know that a terrible disease would come from bats in distant China and cause so much chaos.
“ Can UDB help? What is the magnitude? The Government plan for distance learning, through the provision of 9 million radio-sets, is on course. The money is available. That route of alternative learning will continue to be consolidated, not only for dealing with the present crisis but also for the future. That strategy may have some advantages such as democratizing access by all to good teachers etc,” said Museveni.