The act of a Iganga Top Care, a private secondary school in Iganga Municipality, to refuse S6 students from writing their final year exams was not only inhumane, but also cruel and unacceptable.
While private schools are profit-making entities and do not primarily provide free services, still the administrators of the school should have acted differently.
No school, be it public or private, has the right to deny students sitting their exams for which they paid examination dues.
The narration that some of the poor students owed the school balances to the tune of Shs50,000 makes the matter worse. Any school administrator would opt to use other options, including withholding the students’ pass slips and certificates to compel them to pay the fees balances after examinations.
Some schools have over time made arrangements with the parents of students who are not able to complete paying school fees. In such cases, the affected students would be asked to do some manual work at the school to compensate for the balances they owe. This should not be seen as a punishment, but as a way of allowing the students to work, earn and pay-up what they owe the school.
The Ministry of Education and Sports should by now have already designed a policy and regulations on the subject of how to manage situations where students are unable to complete school dues, yet they paid the examination fees.
If we cared about the future of our children, it is time we put up strong policies to regulate private education institutions. Of course, some people are not bothered since they send their children to study in international schools.
Incidentally, if the school in Iganga was to be scrutinised, we would find that it is not 100 per cent compliant to requirements for running such an institution but was allowed to proceed to operate as it works on completing all the requirements.
It would be poetic justice if the Ministry of Education were to look into this and give the school administrators and proprietors a dose of its own medicine.
Lastly, the position of the school administrators seem to suggest some level of indifference. I would have expected them to at least listen to the advice of the district authorities and allowed the students to write their papers. But this is Uganda!