Monday February 24 2014

Government to cut ties with private USE schools


Kampala- The Ministry of Education is considering scrapping free education in all private secondary schools partnering with government to enable it raise funds to set up enough public schools in the country side, the Daily Monitor has learnt.

The proposal that is awaiting Cabinet approval was among the many resolutions passed at the recent NRM retreat in Kyankwanzi, according to the source.

When contacted at the weekend, Education minister Jessica Alupo confirmed the plan, saying their target is to ensure that every sub-county has a public secondary school.
“It is something we discussed but resolved to set up a committee to look at the implications of this and report back to the caucus in six months before a final decision is taken,” she said in an interview.

According to Ms Alupo, if free education in private schools is scrapped, the ministry will be able to save at least Shs53 billion annually.

The government pays private schools Shs47, 000 for each student under USE per term while government-aided schools and BTVET institutions receive Shs41,000 and Shs150, 000 per student respectively. Parents, though, have to provide the students’ uniform, stationery and meals but very few meet their obligation.

Only students who score between four and 28 aggregate in the Primary leaving Examinations are eligible for USE bursaries.

Currently, a total of 863 private secondary schools are in partnership with government out of 1,785 schools implementing the free education in the country.
Of the 806,992 beneficiaries under the Universal Secondary Education programme, a total of 300,000 are estimated to be in private schools.

While the free education programme is credited for improving school attendance, it has been hampered by delayed release of funds, congestion, high dropout rates, high student-to- teacher ratio and unclear feeding programme.