Members of Parliament on Wednesday, 24 November 2021 will meet to express their concerns about the reopening of schools.
The outcome of the consultative meeting, convened by the First Lady and Minister for Education and Sports, Janet Kataha Museveni, will inform government’s position on the reopening.
Legislators were invited to the meeting to be held at the Kololo Ceremonial Grounds by the Deputy Speaker of Parliament, Anita Among, while chairing the plenary sitting on Thursday, 18 November 2021.
“The meeting is for you to give guidance to the ministry since you are the leaders who are on ground,” said Among.
Schools in the country have remained closed since March 2020 as part of a presidential measure to curb the spread of the COVID-19 is enforced.
The State Minister for Education and Sports (Sports), Hamson Obua, reiterated that the ministry has been consulting different stakeholders on reopening of schools.
“Since the President read the announcement that schools would open in January 2022, the Ministry of Education and Sports has been consulting widely and we thought we should widen the scope and generate more ideas, the ministry identified MPs as representatives of the people,” Obua said.
However, a section of MPs were perturbed by the invitation, saying it breached the Rules and Procedure of Parliament as a minister was causing a meeting of Parliament outside the precincts of Parliament.
“I fear that if we allow ministers to begin summoning Parliament, there is nothing that will stop the Government Chief Whip, Hon Thomas Tayebwa, from summoning Parliament to his home. The minister, under the rules, is supposed to come to Parliament and make a statement on any matter. So under which rule does this minister summon MPs to Kololo?” asked Hon Ssemujju Ibrahim Nganda (FDC, Kiira municipality).
He proposed that the education minister should instead come to Parliament and make a statement which members would thereafter debate.
The Leader of the Opposition, Mathias Mpuuga, expressed fear over holding a parliamentary meeting in Kololo, saying some Members may not freely express their views.
“On this side we have demanded for space to explain our concerns about education but it has been flopping. Now that the First Lady is ready to make that statement, the space where MPs are best housed to speak without contradiction is here at Parliament,” Mpuuga stated.
Among clarified that the meeting will purely be consultative and that it does not qualify as a sitting of Parliament. She further explained that the meeting could not be convened at Parliament owing to space constraints.