Saturday September 15 2018

Private schools’ student numbers drop

Students line up to register at Kabale

Students line up to register at Kabale Secondary School. FILE PHOTO 

By PATIENCE AHIMBISIBWE

KAMPALA. Private school proprietors have said their enrolment has dropped by 44per cent after government withdrew funding to some of their institutions under the public-private partnership programme (PPP).
The proprietors under their umbrella body, Federation of Non State Education Institutions (FENEI) told State Minister for Finance David Bahati that there is need for government to reconsider its earlier position and continue paying tuition to students enroled in private schools which were implementing government’s free education in secondary schools programme.
Mr Charles Mushangye, the Katera Comprehensive High School director, for instance, said his school has been admitting on average 320 students to Senior One since the introduction of the programme at his school in 2012 until this year when they dropped to 160.
This was not any different in Iganga District at Busoga College Kigulu where Mr Apollo Balyeidhusa reported a decline of 35 students in Senior One enrolment this year.

Stranded
Their concern is that the students’ who should have continued with their studies in secondary schools had government continued funding them are now stranded in their respective communities with many resorting to betting, theft, alcohol and drug abuse.
“They have become a social problem in our communities because they cannot afford staying in school. You hear many cases of theft but who are stealing our bananas in our plantations, taking our chicken? The youth are many in trading centres going for betting and playing pool. But where do they get the money from?” Mr Mushangye asked.
The government this year withdrew its partnership with private schools but said the withdrawal would be conducted in phases.
Initially, close to 200,000 student would be enroled on the Universal Secondary Schools programme in Senior One annually and government would support them with fees of Shs47,000 each per term.
However, proprietors fear that this number could have dropped to 100,000 and is likely to worsen.
The school proprietors also appealed to government to reduce the number of taxes they pay arguing that they are offering a service to the community but Mr Bahati reminded them that their contribution was to assist government in meeting its obligation such as immunising children so that they remain healthy and stay in school.

Appeal
“You are in there (education) not because of charity. You have to know that if you go there and make some money, at the end of the year, you must pay a tax,” Mr Bahati said.
He requested the school owners to work with his office as they start budget consultations with various stakeholders ahead of next financial year so that their views can be factored in, especially, the request to create an education fund to facilitate the proprietors with loans to run their schools at a lower interest rate.

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