Cabinet rejects dead year, opts to buy 10m radio sets - National | NTV

Cabinet rejects dead year, opts to buy 10m radio sets

By Yasiin Mugerwa

Tuesday June 16, 2020

 

Plans are underway for government to provide at least 10 million radio sets to every household and 137,466 solar-powered television sets to villages in Uganda as the country awaits guidelines for holding the 2021 General Election.

An emergency Cabinet meeting that sat on the eve of budget reading last week weighed options before re-opening schools as they discussed a report of the Education committee on virtual learning.

The meeting resolved to keep all schools shut but virtual learning must continue as government monitors the Covid-19 curve.

In the meeting, Foreign Affairs minister Sam Kutesa asked President Museveni to announce a dead year for all educational institutions as a drastic measure to keep learners safe.

Other ministers, however, rejected Mr Kutesa’s suggestion and asked Mr Matia Kasaija of Finance to look for funds in the 2020/21 budget for buying radios and TV sets for the 15 million learners.


While the planned distribution of free radios and TV sets was never intended to assist virtual political campaigns but ease access to distance learning and teaching across Uganda, sources in Cabinet talked of “killing two birds with one stone”.

The reference to “two birds” embodies the debate on the anticipated virtual political campaigns ahead of the February polls.


Other ministers, however, rejected Mr Kutesa’s suggestion and asked Mr Matia Kasaija of Finance to look for funds in the 2020/21 budget for buying radios and TV sets for the 15 million learners.

While the planned distribution of free radios and TV sets was never intended to assist virtual political campaigns but ease access to distance learning and teaching across Uganda, sources in Cabinet talked of “killing two birds with one stone”.


The reference to “two birds” embodies the debate on the anticipated virtual political campaigns ahead of the February polls.


Rules out election involvement


Information minister Judith Nabakooba confirmed the meeting at the weekend, and the planned procurement of radio sets and TV sets.


She, however, said the distribution of radio sets and TV had nothing to do with the anticipated virtual political campaigns.


“The focus is on virtual learning not 2021 campaigns. The two issues are different. Campaigns are managed by Electoral Commission (EC) and they have not come to Cabinet. It is only the Ministry of Education which came to Cabinet and we took a decision to buy radios to ensure children continue with learning while at home,” Ms Nabakooba said.


“We had agreed to buy nine million radio sets and TVs because seeing is believing. The good thing ICT is at its peak and 95 per cent have access to radio. But access doesn’t mean ownership and we want to ensure every child is not left behind. This is why government decided to come in and ensure that every household has a radio set for education purposes,” she added.


And on whether radios and TV should be used for campaigns, the minister said: “We have to go by the new normal according to the scientists’ guidance. We have to exercise our rights while being mindful of the deadly virus.

Insiders say as consultations continue, the scientists have called for a hybrid methods - the use of virtual and other means.