What you need to know:
- The Minister of ICT and National Guidance, Dr Chris Baryomunsi, said all public schools that have increased fees are doing so illegally.
The Equal Opportunities Commission (EOC) has asked the government to save parents from being exploited by schools that hiked fees in the current economic hardship thus undermining efforts to access to education.
Addressing journalists in Kampala yesterday, Mr Habiibu Sseruwagi, an EOC board member, said the commission’s findings show that at least 35 percent of the parents have pending school fees balances for the last academic year.
He expressed concern over schools which have increased fees amid the economic hardship caused by the Covid-19 pandemic and other social challenges occasioned by the Russia-Ukraine conflict.
“In order to cope with the rising operational cost caused by Covid-19, many schools increased fees at the beginning to the last academic year. However, these increments were still unfair since the parents’ incomes had not changed,” Mr Sseruwagi said.
He added: “The commission has also learnt that many schools, including the government-aided ones increased the fees for the coming academic year and many of them cannot account for the increment.
According to the commission, if government does not intervene, many children will be denied access to education.
“Government, especially the Ministry of Education should say no [to this situation] because it seems schools have been left to increase the dues at any time they wish yet schools are experiencing almost the same challenges as parents,” Mr Habiibu said.
“The commission’s position is that schools, especially public ones and institutions should not increase fees because they receive capitation grants. If the grants are not enough, schools should make a review so that government can increase the grants,” he added.
The chairperson of EOC, Ms Safia Nalule Juuko, urged the government to increase funding for people with disabilities to ensure that they can have equal opportunities in access to education. “Many government schools lack facilities for people with special needs, the money allocated to cater for the education of PWDs through the Ministry of Education is also insufficient because we have various categories of special groups which need access to education,” Ms Nalule said.
Uganda Bureau of Statistics in 2016 reported that about 2.5 million Ugandan children live with a disability and 14 percent of these can access proper education.
The Minister of ICT and National Guidance, Dr Chris Baryomunsi, said all public schools that have increased fees are doing so illegally.
“The policy of government is that Ugandans should freely access primary and secondary education. Therefore, school administrators should not be using fees to deny the children opportunities to study,” Dr Baryomunsi said. “Due to Covid-19, government guided that schools should not increase fees to enable children remain in [class]. Those schools that have remained adamant, government will be pursuing them accordingly,” he added. Dr Baryomunsi also urged private schools to levy favourable fares to parents, adding that the government will soon introduce a new law to guide on fees both in government and private institutions.