Alliance Modern Nursery and Primary School in Mityana District is no more. The school premises now host an unnamed guest house. The former school signpost has since been repainted only living a single word “Alliance”.
Below the signpost is a small board showing the services offered at the facility. Our reporter visited the former school premises and found the classrooms subdivide into small guest rooms. While the former main hall is now a conference hall.
The move follows the COVID-19 induced closure of schools for almost two years as part of the containment measure for the pandemic. Prior to its closure, Alliance Modern Nursery and Primary School, which is found in Thurban Road LC1 in Central Ward Parish, Central Division, Mityana Municipality had an enrollment of more than 1000 pupils both in nursery and primary levels.
Saul Lukoda, the proprietor of Alliance Modern Nursery and Primary School could not speak about the matter in a telephone interview, saying that he was not ready to speak to the media. A waitress who declined to be named said that they started working two weeks back offering different services including accommodation, restaurant, meetings and rentals.
She, however, said that there are yet to officially open. Bashir Ssemuyaba, the Chairperson of Thurban Road LC 1, says the change of the schools to a guest house weakens the education industry. He says that Alliance Modern Nursery and Primary School has been one of the best performing primary schools in Mityana Municipality for the last 10 years.
“Schools were closed for two years. The government has failed to clearly come up with a solution on how to pay the loans since schools were closed. Banks went demanding repayment of the loans including the interest yet schools were shut,” he said.
James Muwanga Kironde, the Inspector of Schools in Mityana Municipality, says school proprietors have a right to change business since they have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Having lost hope where the school system is going, people have lost hope because of the prolonged closure. Yet many of these schools have long term loans in banks and when they things of banks taking their properties, they decided to divert to other businesses,” Kironde said in an interview.
He, however, said this hurts the sector. Adding that “We wouldn’t wish at any moment to lose any of the schools that were granted a license to operate. Some of the schools have disadvantaged children they have been helping may lose a chance to study.”
According to Kironde, the closure will affect learners negatively but their hands are tied. “It is not only Alliance Modern Nursery and Primary School that has closed to turn into other businesses but also Mityana Destiny Junior school at Buswabulongo Village, Busimbi Division Mityana District with other 450 pupils closed and changed business,” said Kironde.
He, however, says that the school proprietors have not officially communicated the change of business and only learnt of it through inspection.
Faustin Mukambwe Lukonge, the Mayor of Mityana Municipality, says converting schools into bars and lodges is unfortunate, adding that this would cost the education sector since government schools are poorly funded.
He says that the school proprietors ought to have contacted the authorities the same way they did while opening the schools before changing business.
He said that, unlike the education sector, an investment in a bar is not essential and may worsen one’s financial challenges. Mityana District Chairperson, Patrick Mugisha Nshimye, said that many schools have closed and turned into other business entities.