Items filtered by date: Wednesday, 24 June 2020

COVID-19: Luxurious Speke Resort, Kabira Country Club Among Hotels To Quarantine Ugandan Returnees

Speke Group of Hotels' establishments Speke Apartments (80 rooms), Speke Resort Munyonyo (150 rooms) and Kabila Country Resort (80 rooms) all in Kampala, lead a pack of 14 high-end private hotels that will be used by the government as quarantine centres for repatriated Ugandans.

Other such hotels include Protea Hotel (100 rooms), Lake Victoria Hotel (100 rooms), Mowicribs Apartment (30 rooms), Imperial Botanical (80 rooms) and St. Stevens Suites (18 rooms) while Hilton Garden Inn (80 rooms), Mackinnon Suites (120 rooms), Ssanga Courts (60 rooms), Golden Tullip Hotel (60 rooms), Apartments Hotel (20 rooms) and Eureka Place Ntinda (60 rooms) are in Kampala.

Government has however revealed that the cost for quarantining in these private hotels will be met by the returnees.

Government has also provided three public facilities – Mulago Paramedical in Kampala (140 rooms), Fisheries Institute in Entebbe (50 rooms) and Lands and Survey in Entebbe (60 rooms) – for those who cannot afford private hotels. The cost of these three public facilities will be met by the government. Call Dr Richard on +256772563113 for reservation.  

Following cabinet recent approval to allow Ugandans who are stranded abroad due to the closure of Entebbe Airport and of the borders following the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic to start returning home in a safe and orderly manner, the ministry of health released a list of hotels DESIGNATED as QUARANTINE CENTRES.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs said through working with the relevant Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) developed standard procedures that will guide in arranging for the return of Ugandans stranded abroad.

  1. A citizen of Uganda or a legal resident intending to travel back to Uganda under the arrangement of returning stranded nationals (returnee) must register with the nearest Embassy /High Commission of Uganda, hereinafter referred to as the responsible Embassy/High Commission and provide the following information; 

a.) Ugandan Passport number, National ID or Residence/Work permit;

b.) Circumstances under which they got stranded abroad;

c.) Contact information of the next of kin in Uganda i.e. Telephone Number & LC 1 location;

d.) Evidence of hospitalization for those who are returning from medical treatment abroad. 

  1. The returnee must sign and deposit at the responsible Embassy/High Commission an undertaking to undergo a PCR test for COVID-19 done at his/her current area of residence and again on arrival in Uganda. A copy of the undertaking can be got from the responsible Embassy/High Commission; 
  1. The returnee should indicate to the responsible Embassy/High Commission their choice of quarantine facility in Uganda. The available choices include both public centres and private hotels. A list of the approved quarantine centres (public and private) is herewith attached. NB: Clients going to hotels are strongly advised to make reservations prior to travelling. Hotel check-in will only be permitted after making payments. 
  1. The returnee will sign and deposit with the responsible Embassy/High Commission, a commitment to undergo a minimum of 14 days quarantine in the facility which they will have chosen from the list provided and to fully comply with the National Guidelines for Quarantine in the Context of COVID-19 that are issued by the Ministry of Health of Uganda; 
  1. The returnees who opt to be quarantined in a private hotel will meet the cost of their own quarantine. 
  1. The returnees will be responsible for making their own reservations with the airlines.The Embassy may only assist with overall coordination of the exercise and will from time to time provide the necessary guidance on this matter. 
  1. The returnee will be required to present to the airline, proof of a negative PCR test result for COVID-19 as part of the requirements for confirmation of their flight booking. The test must have been taken at least 10 days prior to the date of the planned flight to Uganda. The PCR test for COVID-19 must have been done by a health facility that is accredited by the host Governments. 
  1. While in transit, the returnee will be required to adhere to the host country Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for safe travel and the SOPs provided by the airline while on the plane. This may include wearing of a face mask and sanitizing as may be required. 
  1. Every individual traveler is advised to carry a spare mask(s) in case they need to replace the original one that they have. Used masks will only be disposed in a facility provided for that purpose;
  1. The returnee will pay for the entire cost of their own travel up to arrival at a designated point of entry into Uganda i.e. Entebbe airport or a designated border point of entry; 
  1. On arrival in Uganda, the returnee will observe the social distancing standards established by the Government of Uganda at the airport or border point of entry and will comply fully with all port of entry safety requirements; 
  1. No relatives or friends will be allowed to meet or pick a returnee from the airport on arrival in Uganda. 
  1. The returnee will deposit their passport with the Immigration officers on arrival in Uganda. The passport will only be given back to the returnee after the end of the mandatory quarantine period& upon presentation to the immigration office of a certificate of release from quarantine issued by the Ministry of Health. The said certificate must additionally indicate a negative test result. 
  1. The Ministry of Health may continue to follow up on the health of the returnee after she/he has been released from quarantine. 
  1. Additional procedures to those listed above may be issued by the Government of Uganda from time to time.

 

 

 

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Institutional Focus On Family Could Be Solution To Global Problems

By Fred Kasirye

The family is a seemingly an easy to understand concept, it is however an overstated term by both lay people and professionals in day to day life. It could basically be referred to as a group of individuals who share a legal or genetic bond, but for many people, family means much more, and even the simple idea of genetic bonds can be more complicated than it seems.

In this unit of society, the husband and wife are bound legally together in a relationship often time born out of love compassion and commitment. Such a relationship is often time registered and known by the state. It is also true that the nature of families in a given society by any measure and standard dictate the nature /state of society - calm, rowdy, disorganised or civil.

Family is the first source of hope when the future is unknown and yet also is the last safety net when all hope is gone. COVID 19 presents the latest proof to this. International Agencies, and Governments have made the vital call to families to stay home and results show that where this call has been heeded to the infections have been low and are being better managed. Social distancing in homes has been followed to the later. Further evidence that family is a solution to many global challenges.

For probably most couples in this generation, except for the very elderly (over 90+ years), this season of the pandemic marks the longest period they have had to spend mandatorily together considering the stay home directives given by governments across the world.

The family principals (Husband and Wife) have therefore been put to the longest test of each other's patience and tolerance. But better still accountability and basic governance matters relating to a home from resource planning, identification, and allocation. Many are failing at this test and realise they just cannot subsist.

Media during this COVID 19 period is awash with stories of increasing domestic violence. The scuffles often shown are life threatening, like probably never before. This is not to suggest that there has not been domestic violence in homes before the pandemic, but rather the rate this time round is very alarming. The clergy have noted this trend of events and have often directed their summons during this period to this end. It is not yet clear why domestic violence is on a drastic rise.

Sociology as a field of study teaches us to appreciate family in reflecting on the nature, character and growth of society. These unfolding realities not only show that sociologists have a greater role to play past this pandemic to reconstruct the family as is expected to be through offering services such as counselling and guidance but also seeks the increase in relevant research relating to the challenges, influencing factors and better still what the future of the family is envisaged to look like.

Further to this, religion shall actively take up its role to strengthen the fibre that makes family by ensuring anti social undertones are minimised through preaching good social practices as embedded in the teachings. It is only then that Science and Business initiatives and programs for society will thrive from generation to generation.

Away from that, policy makers have a role in this, owing to the fact that the current answer to the pandemic is stay home. Therefore, the home should be a safe and enabling place and a family has a role to play in this.

We therefore shouldn’t take any of the unfolding events relating to the family during this COVID 19 period lightly as we could be seeing the smallest and yet most crucial unit of society being put to irrecoverable test and trial.

Healthcare, Education and Gender responsive policy, studies as well as family level initiatives and innovations should be promoted by governments all over the world. Any effort in the opposite direction is in vain and counterproductive.

Fred Kasirye, the writer, is the Dean Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences- Victoria University, Kampala

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Understanding The Cost Of Higher Education On Stakeholder Needs During COVID-19 Times

By Fred Kasirye & Bill Nkeeto

According to Encyclopaedia Britannica, Higher education is any postsecondary education form of learning that normally results into degrees, diplomas or certificates. Higher educational institutions include not only universities and colleges but also various professional schools that provide preparation in fields as law, theology, medicine, business, music, accountancy and art.

Higher education also includes teacher-training schools, junior colleges, and institutes of technology. Normally the basic entrance requirement for most higher-educational institutions is the completion of secondary education. Stakeholders in this sector are individuals or groups who have interest or concern for the institutions offering higher education.

These include administrators, lecturers, students, parents, families, community members, local business leaders, and elected officials such as school board members, council members while on the other side is the regulatory bodies like; NCHE, BTVET, Allied Health Council, to mention but a few. These bodies perform their roles on behalf of the Government of Uganda, to ensure that quality education, that will eventually nurture professionals fit to take the country to the next level is delivered.

However, the circumstances under which these regulatory bodies and all other stakeholders have been operating, have changed as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. These changes by any standards, have come at a huge cost for all the players involved, something which requires to be discussed now, during the pandemic, than any other time; since no such an occurrence was envisaged previously to mitigate the current situation, which the entire education industry finds itself in.

Discussing the cost of higher education on stakeholder needs during Covid-19 times - specifically identifying how this is expected to affect learning Post Covid-19, has a bearing on all the above stated stakeholders alike.

Available facts show that as of March 25th 2020, over 184 countries closed doors to schools globally. According to the African Population and Health Research Centre; 1.576 billion learners world-wide at all levels of education, could nolonger access their learning institutions due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Of all the learners affected, 297 million were from Africa, a number so significant for any country to ignore taking any action. Until this current Covid-19 pandemic, institutions have been running structured annual academic calendars in the form of terms and semesters.

Institutions now have to cope with huge losses owing to the lockdown. At the beginning of every term/ semester institutions of higher learning normally make adequate preparations as they await the term/ semester opening. These include but are not limited to: - purchasing of supplies to go through the period, -paid or on credit, which is another discussion. Contracts for staff have already been signed off to guarantee effective teaching and learning.

Lecturers in public Institutions will most likely still be paid despite closures, implying that these expenses, for the most part, do not translate into learning or other Institution related services, however long a period the institutions may be closed.

If for instance the 2020 exam cycle cannot be completed, then the full year’s spending will be impacted yet cash flows are grossly affected. The effect on private Institutions is even more drastic, since for them to stay afloat, they have to cut expenses largely baiting on essentials and none essentials.

Cancelling contracts, renegotiating repayment of Institutional bank loans, laying off staff and counting losses from students who left mid semester without completing their fees/ tuition along with the fear of semester / term overlaps becoming evident every day that passes. For as long as the vaccine to curb the COVID-19 pandemic is not discovered, the risks related causing all forms of the losses in all sectors will keep mounting globally.

Away from disrupting the teaching and learning calendar, is the need to manage the costs of mitigating the consequences of Institutions closing. A prominent model has been the jump to distance learning alternative. The costs of which differ based on the available infrastructure.

There are enormous lessons to pick from this none the less. Just all of a sudden, the need to ensure that learning continues, has seen institutions invest in unprecedented online study options thus making many mistakes as is the case with learning on the job since at this point in time there is need to walk as well as run at the same time.

Staff are largely not well tooled with the skills to manage online studies and have to learn at the same speed or even slower than their millennial students. A glaring large oversight in 21st century learning, when digitisation has swept through other sectors like a wild fire, education largely stayed conservative in defence of a need to maintain quality and efficiency.

 However, the need to address the problem before hand, to ensure business continuity, invites additional costs that could be marginal in one end of the world and very high in another.

It is these business continuity dynamics that require to be properly assessed and analysed at country level to inform a business continuity plan if inequalities are to be avoided, but at such short notice multiple huddles for all sector players tend to unfold with regards to accessibility,  affordability and in some cases competence ability with regards to the staff expected to roll out the learning on these new platforms.

These present as short term costs, yet the long term presents more costs relating to stakeholder losses ranging from a dip in government revenues, failure of parents to pay for the immediate semesters/ terms as many have their incomes greatly dented, and even the service industry affected due to low demand given the challenged balance sheet of many of the Higher Education Institutions threatening collapse of some, and others settling for acquisition or mergers for others.

Even with dipping revenue governments are squarely focused on containing the spread as other sectors wait, which in itself is a wise approach Health First. Economy next but surely not education for now with limited resources.

This national formula will not in any way spare the nationals/citizens who will have a trickledown effect of the severity caused by the pandemic. In homes across countries families will bare the unfortunate pain of cancelling school for the year, to concentrate on soliciting for resources to enable them start with the next year. The trickledown effect will without doubt affect all stakeholders in ways rather drastic post Covid 19. This will have a sustained effect on each of the various stakeholders. Ultimately the quality and quantity of education especially in Low developed countries is at a risk.

In conclusion, looking at the unforeseeable future, Institutions of higher learning have an early opportunity to find their feet towards survival and continue to serve, the already negatively affected stakeholders as a result of Covid-19.

The Covid-19 uncertainty could be the door to greater success for institutions of higher learning, if among many things; distance learning is embraced through usage of online technology (webinars), creating parameters required for making quality module packs for learners, and mechanisms for online assessment, module packs moderated and qualified for academic delivery, facilitators empowered, and state of the art infrastructure put in place to support the new status quo.

This way the cost of education will not only become more affordable but also, institutions will have the capacity to ensure mass enrolment and make more people ready to receive it through the various Distance learning channels especially on the various online platforms. This will also require the government and where possible the private sector to massively invest in high speed internet and making it cheaply accessible to almost everyone in every corner of the country.

However, this decision is not limited to private Institutions, it requires the blessing of the regulators and Government by providing enabling environment as well as guidelines to ensure there is no compromise to quality, a concern that can have far reaching implications.

The telecoms should leverage on this to build partnerships that will ensure data is available to the vulnerable and the internet can be across geographies. Countries that shall be able to take advantage of this will prepare themselves well for the future of education in the 21st century, suffer a short impact and reap a long-term reward in the provision of education services.

While a lot seems to be washed away, this is the time to redesign the mode of education delivery to fit the current needs, especially those brought to light by the current global pandemic.

About the authors:

Fred Kasirye is development management specialist &Dean Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences at Victoria University

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Bill Nkeeto is Business Management expert & Dean Faculty of Business and Management at Victoria University

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