GENERAL Education Minister David Mabumba says suspected cases of COVID-19 have been reported in some schools but the Ministry of Health is yet to confirm whether or not they are positive.

And Mabumba says his ministry is in talks with private schools to come up with a reasonable user fee for e-learning classes.

In an interview, Mabumba said he was still waiting for the Ministry of Health to confirm whether or not the suspected cases of COVID-19 reported in schools were positive.

“There are situations that have been brought to my attention but I can’t confirm. We handed them over to the Ministry of Health and we are waiting for them to tell us. So, I can’t give you anything, otherwise, I will be misleading you. So, when there are cases in our schools, our protocol is that we report them to the Ministry of Health, and the Ministry of Health will take them up. Whether they want to swab everybody, pupils, and the teachers, they have to make that decision, and then they have to get back to us. So my team and I are still waiting until further notice. We have certain schools where similar cases have been reported but we are still waiting for the Ministry of Health to tell us whether yes it is COVID-19 or not. So, until we get information from the Ministry of Health,” Mabumba said.

Mabumba, however, said reopening of schools for exam classes had been a success story because teachers had done their best to protect the pupils.

“But the reopening of schools in this country has been a very successful story. I have checked across the world and most of the countries, even those who have too much money, are struggling. Others have taken one another to court but here, I am very grateful. I don’t even have a reward to give my teachers for their dedication and commitment. They have dedicated their energies and efforts to just ensure that our pupils continue to remain safe,” he said.

“But where we have got cases that are reported for sure, we will report them to our colleagues in the Ministry of Health. But this far, they are all doing very well. Once the report is out, we will definitely talk to the public because we can’t hide anyway.”

And Mabumba said a committee had been established to discuss with the private schools the need for a reasonable fee for e-learning.

“That one, I am aware and we have set up a committee. In fact, it’s largely in the private schools. We have set up a committee that is looking at two fundamental issues. We want a reasonable fee for e-learning. And number two, I understand the private schools have got teachers and they have to pay them salaries and they have to meet the operational cost. What is it that we can do to encourage parents? So, there are two key things that my team and the private schools association are looking at. My opinion is very clear in terms of user fees for e-learning but I don’t want to express it until when the Ministry and Private School associations conclude their consultations with their members,” Mabumba said.

Meanwhile, Mabumba said he was aware of some private schools that had been asking parents to pay school fees despite their children not being in examination classes.

“Then, there are some schools which were asking parents to pay claiming that the second term had started. I challenge them that who gave them the authority to claim that the second term has started for example for non-exam classes? The only person who has the authority [to declare that] is the President because we are in a pandemic. I know why they were claiming that the second term has started because they wanted to use it as an opportunity to charge. That was very unfortunate and very regrettable,” said Mabumba.