NPA asks govt to increase capitation grant for schools

The manager of Policy, Research and Innovation at National Planning Authority (NPA), Mr Hamis Mugendawala (left), addresses officials from the Education Policy Review Commission in Nakawa, Kampala on January 31, 2023. PHOTO/FRANK BAGUMA

The National Planning Authority (NPA) has asked the government to increase the capitation grant allocated to each learner per year under the Universal Primary/Secondary Education (UPE/USE) to improve the quality of learning.

While meeting members of the Education Policy Review Commission in Kampala yesterday, the manager of Policy, Research and Innovation at NPA, Dr Hamis Mugendawala, said, the capitation grant for each child in UPE schools per year should be increased from Shs14,000 to Shs63,546.

He added that the capitation grant per student per year at lower secondary should be increased from Shs170,000 to Shs532,720 and from Shs255,000 to Shs885,440 for those in upper secondary. 

“Government must commit more resources to UPE and USE. Capitation grants should be increased for the smooth running of schools,” Dr Mugendawala said.  

Released by the government on a quarterly basis, a capitation grant is used to finance the purchase of textbooks and other teaching and learning materials.  It also caters for school maintenance, administration costs and payment for utilities including water and electricity.

The team also suggested that the total education financing should be increased from the current 2.5 percent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) to at least 4.8 percent.

Mr Mugendawala noted that over time, financing and investments in the education sector have not kept pace with the increasing expansion in enrollment and unit costs.

He said at primary and secondary levels, funding for public schools should be majorly driven by enrolment, inflation, the school’s wealth, performance, completion, and attendance ratios.

On the issue of school feeding, the team from the NPA recommended that the government introduces a school feeding programme in primary schools at a unit daily cost of Shs1,220, saying this will contribute to increased enrollment and retention of learners. 

Dr Mugendawala revealed that a recent study done by the NPA in partnership with United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (Unicef) in Karamoja indicated that 94 percent of learners in schools with a feeding programme are able to stay in school and complete their studies and that 84 percent of the learners are able to attain higher grades in gateway subjects like mathematics and literacy. 

 The government has always encouraged parents to pack food for their school-going children, urging that the responsibility of educating children has to be shared between the government and parents, with the latter ensuring that children are well fed both at home and at school. 

“It is wrong impression that the government was supposed to fulfil all the roles of educating children, with parents playing no role. These children are the future of our country. What is so sad is that sometimes they even get to school on an empty stomach. Let alone going without lunch but starting the day without any feeding until in the evening when they return home,” Education Minister Janet Museveni said in one of her addresses.

At the tertiary level of education, the executive director of NPA, Dr Joseph Muvawala, said student loan scheme should be exclusively for students from secondary schools belonging to Q1 and Q2 poverty quintiles who face double jeopardy of not being able to access merit scholarship.

“The poor students should not start life with loans that they are unable to pay back. Government sponsorship should go to the poor and leave the loans for children from rich families since their parents are able to pay back loans,” Dr Muvawala said.

Other recommendations 
• Make it criminal for parents who refuse to take children to school  
• Promotion from Primary Seven to Senior One should be automatic by the year 2027, grading students is currently a roadblock for enrollment in secondary schools. 
• Adopt a formative form of assessment for learners from Primary Three to Six where a teacher assesses and evaluates students’ level of comprehension, learning needs, and academic progress during a lesson, unit, or course as opposed to summative assessment that subjects students to end of term examinations.
• Revise the National Teacher Policy of 2019 to ensure that initial teacher training, professionalisation and certification are delineated and performed by different institutions.
• In addition, the National Institute for Teacher Education should provide training to teachers who have chosen a special pathway including those inclined and with interest to work in curriculum development, inspection, guidance and counselling, special needs education, among others.