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Coronavirus

As Schools Reopen in Africa, Relief Is Matched by Anxiety

November 16, 2020

KAMPALA, Uganda — Many parents in African countries, unable to pay in cash or kind, say their children will have to miss the new term as classes resume after months of delay caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Mike Ssekaggo, headmaster of Wampeewo Ntakke Secondary School on the outskirts of Uganda’s capital, Kampala, has fielded complaints from parents scrambling to have their children enrolled for the first time since March.

One cash-strapped parent asked to pay her child’s school tuition fees with bags of the rice she grows. Ssekaggo requested a sample before he would agree but eventually did.

Relief over the gradual reopening of schools is matched by anxiety over the financial strain caused by the pandemic and over how to protect students in often crowded classrooms from the coronavirus. Only about half of 430 students had reported the day after he began admitting students for the new term, Ssekaggo told The Associated Press.

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