Private schools reject government directive on fees defaulters

Tuesday November 19 2019

Students of Iganga Top Care Sec

Students of Iganga Top Care Secondary School in Iganga District who were barred from sitting their Uganda Advanced Certificate of Education examinations at the school premises on November 11. Photo by Yazid Yolisigira 

By PATIENCE AHIMBISIBWE

Private schools have objected to government’s directive that they should not stop students who have not cleared tuition fees from sitting national examinations.

The chairperson of National Private Education Institutions Association, Mr Hasadu Kirabira, accused government of double standards, saying the Ministry of Education has not given similar directives to public institutions not to stop tuition fees defaulting candidate/students from sitting examinations.

He said government cannot give directives where it has not invested.
Mr Kirabira said the directive will encourage parents to default on fees which makes it difficult for schools to recover money they have already invested in keeping students.

“There is unfairness in the way government is handling the issue. We are equally concerned but government never consulted us. They have imposed more than 14 taxes on us. We pay teachers, construct classrooms and teachers’ houses. We have fed the children and paid utilities. How will private schools recover the money they have invested in this child with such directives that we stop blocking them from sitting exams?” Mr Kirabira asked.

“The ministry is not there to manage fees in schools. It is there for policy, curriculum, legalisation and compliance issues. Government liberalised the economy. You cannot regulate where you have not invested. The ministry should be non-discriminative. We need harmony.”

Mr Kirabira cited the recent Makerere University strike where students demonstrated against increasing fees but government supported the university to maintain the contested fees rates.

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Last week, the Education minister, Ms Janet Museveni, directed schools not to block students who had not paid tuition fees from sitting the Uganda National Examinations Board (Uneb). The directive followed a story published by Daily Monitor about 15 students from Top Care Secondary School in Iganga District who had been denied to sit their Senior Six final examinations because they had not paid the tuition fees balance.

“No school administrator is allowed to stop any Uneb registered candidate from sitting his/her final exams because of unpaid school fees balances. Exam results, however, of the candidate can be withheld by the school administrators until he/she has cleared all outstanding fees,” Ms Museveni, also First Lady directed.

The ministry’s Permanent Secretary, Mr Alex Kakooza, yesterday asked the schools with fees defaulters to liaise with Uneb officials so that once results are out, those particular individuals are not able to access theirs.
According to Mr Kakooza, education should not be treated as a business but a service.

“You cannot have students prepare and at the last minute tell them you will not sit because of fees balance. We will not allow that. We have taken a measure to see that the schools recover their money. Even when Uneb releases results electronically, they will ensure those students’ results are not released once schools communicate,” Mr Kakooza said.

pahimbisibwe@ug.nationmedia.com

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