900 Kampala schools are operating illegally – KCCA

The deputy director of Education and Social Services Department at Kampala Capital City Authority, Mr Charles Maginot. PHOTO | JANE NAFULE

What you need to know:

  • The schools had failed to meet the basic minimum standards as set out in Section 30 and 31 of the Education Act, 2008.  

At least 928 of 1,986 schools operating in Kampala are illegal, the deputy director of Education at Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA) has said.

Mr Charles Maginot, who oversees both the Education and Social Services in the city, yesterday told the Monitor that the schools in question have not been registered by KCCA. 

He said the schools had failed to meet the basic minimum standards as set out in Section 30 and 31 of the Education Act, 2008. 

Mr Maginot said a school gets a licence and registration certificate when they have adequate classrooms, qualified staff, board of governors, school management committees, spacious play fields, adequate sanitation and hygiene facilities, and spacious dormitories, among other key requirements.  

Mr Maginot said KCCA uncovered the illegal schools during an on-spot inspection in   the 2022/2023 financial year. The Auditor General’s Report for the same period showed there were more than 900 schools operating illegally in the city.

 “They were found lacking in the most critical areas, ranging from inadequate classrooms and play facilities for children, poor hygiene and sanitation, unqualified staff with no contracts,” he said.

Mr Maginot said 15 schools were served with notice to close since they did not meet almost all the basic requirements, while another 700 schools were served with notices to put in place the basic requirements.

“Those served with warnings did not fully meet the requirements, but their strengths outweighed their weaknesses. Some of them had good infrastructure, had qualified teachers, but the challenge could be that they didn’t have school management committee, board of governors and adequate play facilities. As soon as they work on them, we shall proceed to licence and register them,” he said.

 “Each school knows their status. We have already communicated and given them room to improve. It is our hope that they have made efforts to address the gaps. We will go back at the end of this term to re-inspect them, and if they don’t meet the requirements, then, we shall enforce closure, “he added.

The KCCA’s inspection progress report for 2022/2023 names schools that were served with notices to close as Kiti Muslim Primary School, Kiti Muslim Nursery School in Central Division, Amiira Kindergarten, Prime Education Centre in Kawempe, Prime Care Primary School, Prime Care Kindergarten, Luzira Army Primary School, and Kulambiro Nursery in Nakawa Division.

 Others are Dembe Nursery School, Dembe Primary School, Ntinda View Nursery, Favour Parents Primary School, Naguru High School in Nakawa Division, and Prosper and King Vad in Rubaga Division.                    

Mr Maginot also said at least of 195 of the 928 schools had voluntarily closed, following a reminder by KCC executive director Dorothy Kisaka. Among those that heeded Sections 30 and 31 of the Education Act 2008 to close included St Martin’s College Lubaga, Omega College Nakawa, Bukesa High School in Central Division and Bukoto Development Primary School in Nakawa Division.

Mr Maginot said KCCA last month held several meetings with school heads and managers to discuss the illegal school operations in the city. 

Maginot also said although the Primary Leaving Examinations (PLE) pass rate in the city had increased from 94.8 percent 2022 to 95.5 percent in 2023, the number of learners in First Grade declined from 34 percent in 2022 to 28.6 percent last year.

Mr Hasadu Kirabira, the Chairperson of the National Private Educational Institutions Association (NPEIA), said, “We are seeing masqueraders in this sector opening up schools in shops, rentals, garages, and swamps. We have worked with KCCA to identify quack schools,” Mr Kirabira said.  

 He asked the government to relax some of the stringent requirements, to ease the process of acquiring licences and registration certificates by schools.

What it requires to set up private school

The Education Act states that any person, community or organisation that intends to establish a private education institution shall apply to the Permanent Secretary, the chief administrative officer, or town clerk, to be approved as a suitable person, community or organisation.

The applicant is required to be of good repute with the necessary funds to manage the type of institution proposed to be established and should seek advice and approval of the Ministry responsible for education, district or urban council.

The application should be supported by at least three persons of high integrity and good standing in the area of the applicant where the education institution is to be established.

 Before the application is approved, the prospective school owner is required to provide building plans, lease offers, agreements and land titles for the proposed new school or for extension or alterations to some existing building, as the case may be, approved by the district education committees.

The schools are required to engage a head teacher who, in the opinion of the Permanent Secretary, chief administrative officer or town clerk, is suitable for the type of School he intends to establish.

The schools should also ensure that the teachers to be engaged in the education institution are eligible to teach in the type of school he or she intends to establish and the facilities are adequate for the school it purports to set up.

Besides, the physical, health and moral welfare of the pupils should be adequately provided for. Similarly, the school environment must be conducive for all learners, including those with special needs. 

  If, after a two school years, the Permanent Secretary, chief administrative officer or town clerk, is satisfied that the school provisionally licensed is properly run and organised, he or she shall issue a certificate of registration and classification. Likewise, if all or any of the conditions set under this Act have not been fulfilled, he or she may extend the provisional licence for a further period not exceeding one school year or order the school to be closed.

School managers respond

Mr Francis Buyondo, the head teacher of Sir Apollo Kaggwa Primary School in Nakasero, said they didn’t receive any notice from KCCA.

“What I remember is that they came and complained that we did not have ramps for the disabled but [at the time the school was constructed], it was not a requirement.  Those things of inclusion came into existence around 2010. Our building was set up in 2005 and we started the school in 2006. There was no way a law that was set in 2010 would catch us,” he said.

Mr Godfrey Kimbugwe, the head teacher of Hormisdallen Primary School Kamwokya, said: “I am surprised to hear that. We have never got an implementation notice from KCCA. It could have been an oversight. As far as we are concerned, we have everything in place.”

 Ms Rebecca Kagoya, a director at Mutungo Islamic Nursery and Primary School, said the management rectified the issues raised by KCCA about the school.

Mr Radjab Mpabuka, the head teacher of Daffodils School, said the school had improvised ramps and installed fire extinguishers as directed by KCCA.

An administrator at Lohana Primary School, who preferred anonymity, said that they were asked to work on the sewerage system.