Govt urged to raise education budget

Pupils of Kibinjwa Primary School in Hoima District have a lesson under a tree last year. Unicef says it was unfair for government to continue slashing the education budget. PHOTO/FILE.

What you need to know:

  • Unicef says it was unfair for government to continue slashing the education budget, especially after teaching and learning was interrupted for close to two years during the two Covid-19 lockdowns. 

The United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (Unicef) has asked the government to increase budget allocation to the education sector to ensure stakeholders cope with the lost time during the Covid-19 lockdowns.

According to a 2022 Unicef report on the state of children in Uganda, the international body notes that it was unfair for government to continue slashing the education budget, especially after teaching and learning was interrupted for close to two years during the two Covid-19 lockdowns.

Presenting the findings before ministers, Members of Parliament and other stakeholders in the education sector during the recovery and resilience dialogue for children in Kampala yesterday, the social policy manager at Unicef, Mr Chinembiri Tawanda, said although the education sector is among the key sectors with the largest share of the national budget, it is still below the 20 percent requirement for African Union states.

“The education sector’s budget is estimated to be at 8.6 percent of the total budget for FY2022/2023, but still, it is on a declining trend and still below the 20 percent minimum requirement for the African Union countries under the Dakar Commitment on Education for All,” Mr Tawada said.

“There is a need for the government to increase the budget allocation to the education sector to improve access and quality of education in the country, especially aimed at recovering gains lost due to Covid-19,” he added.

Last financial year, the government allocated Shs3.6 trillion to the education sector. 
Unicef also noted that at least 2.2 million children are enrolled in schools, out of whom less than 120,00 complete higher education school level.

Only 32 percent complete primary school in seven years and 69 percent transit to secondary education level, while an increase in the deaths of newborns has been recorded at 10 percent 2021/2022 compared to 2020/2021.

Addressing the media during the dialogue, Unicef country representative Munir Safieldin urged the government to implement laws which protect the rights of children, as well as ensure at least 20 percent of the National Budget is allocated to the education sector.

“Uganda has wonderful laws for the protection of children but due to lack of funding and trained personnel, most of these laws have not been enforced in an effective way. As a result, we find that many children are sexually abused, others drop out of school and we have started registering cases of suicide among children as a result of child abuse,” Mr Safieldin said.

The Minister for General Duties in the Office of the Prime Minister, Ms Justine Kasule Lumumba, commended Unicef for the elaborative report and urged parents and guardians to take up immediate responsibility in the nurturing of children before blaming the government.

“Before we blame the government, where are the parents and guardians of the children? The parents and the community must play an important role in the upbringing of a child, but many of them, including government top officials, have neglected their roles,” Ms Lumumba said.

School closures

With the Covid-19 pandemic and the resulting lockdowns that rippled through the world, 90 percent of children had their education interrupted, according to a White paper, Averting an Education Catastrophe for the World’s Children.

Globally, according to the paper, the pandemic hit an education system that was already struggling.

The two school closures in Uganda, which lasted 83 weeks, affected at least 10 million primary and secondary learners, according to the UN’s education and cultural body, Unesco.

Welcome!

You're all set to enjoy unlimited Prime content.