Tuesday July 22 2014

Get to the bottom of Capitation Grant problem

By Editorial

News that public schools have not received Capitation Grants from government for the Second Term that opened late May and ends in two weeks’ time is troubling. This means public schools have run the Second Term, without the meagrely funds. This non-remittance has frustrated operations and forced some schools in Kotido District to shut down while others in Masindi plan to close before end of term. In some instances, head teachers have earned poor reputation as bad debtors because they had to borrow to make ends meet for pupils in Arua and elsewhere.

But how did the ministries of Finance and Education allow this risky situation to go on for three months, yet capitation grants are required to be released at least 15 days to the start of every school term?
This state of affairs is unacceptable for public schools where the majority of poor taxpayers’ children go to prepare for their future and that of Uganda. Worse, both ministries of Finance and Education know only too well that public schools survive on meagre Capitation Grants to meet basic operational costs, buy scholastic materials, and organise co-curricular activities, including sports.

Certainly, this financial shortfall jeopardises academic performance of pupils in government’s free universal primary, secondary, and post-Advanced Level education and other training programmes. So how did the technocrats expect these schools and humble teachers to operate, let alone deliver any lessons and the pupils learn and produce any good grades?

Surely, this negligence must be stopped because it rings the bell to announce the death of our public education. Indeed, Members of Parliament should go hard on the relevant ministries over their conspicuous and outrageous failure to remit capitation grants to public educational institutions. And this is why those who will have been found to have slept on the job on the whereabouts of more than Shs42 billion capitation grants for Second Term should be penalised. It is inconceivable how Finance fails to explain why the Shs42 billion appropriated in the 2013/14 Financial Year has not been released to public schools. For how long did Finance sit on the information without raising the red flag that funds under the 2013/14 annual provision had been exhausted and their crucial request for supplementary budget of the financial year 2013/14 was not approved by Parliament?

The MPs must drill to the bottom of this issue and pressure state minister of Finance Matia Kasaija to explain how the Shs42 billion was used and why government is asking for more. It must be now that government accorded the education sector the due respect it deserves.