Owners put 600 schools up for sale over Covid-19

 Brain Bridge High School on Fort Portal-Kasese Road is one of the education institutions on sale. PHOTO/ FELIX BASIIME

What you need to know:

Thousands of teachers and their supervisors at the Ministry of Education have been at loggerheads over delayed access to Shs20 billion that Mr Museveni promised

At total of 600 private schools across the country are at the verge of being sold over unpaid loans and accumulated interest.

 Last Sunday, President Museveni directed all schools countrywide to close as one of the measures to minimise spread of Covid-19 among learners, teachers and parents.

Addressing journalists at their offices in Namuwongo, Kampala, yesterday, the Secretary General of National Private Education Institutions Association Uganda, Dr Wako Muzinge, said banks have started deducting money from their accounts.

 He, however, revealed that with the second closure of schools, they will not be able to pay off the loans amounting to about Shs5 trillion.

 Mr Muzinge appealed to government to intervene and save schools from being auctioned by the banks.

 “It is only the government that can save us through buying off these loans because we have also tried to improve literacy rate in this country,” he said.

Unfulfilled pledges

 The chairperson of the association, Mr Kirabira Hasadu, said the government in January pledged Shs2.4 trillion stimulus package to help private schools struggling with loans.

 “We met President Museveni in January and he agreed to give us a stimulus package. We hope this has been included in the national budget he said.

 Mr Hasadu also reminded the government to release the Shs20b relief the President promised teachers in private schools after they went months without pay last year.

 Dr Sarah Nkonge Muwonge, a director of several schools and the vice chairperson of central region, said some private schools will not be able to pay their teachers following the second lockdown.

 “Teachers who are going to be affected most are the ones in private schools because all the school fees parents have been paying have been deducted by the banks. This means we do not have money to pay staff,” Ms Muwonge said.

  Thousands of teachers and their supervisors at the Ministry of Education have been at loggerheads over delayed access to Shs20 billion that Mr Museveni promised.

At the height of the lockdown last year, Mr Museveni directed that the money be released to relieve the financial distress of teachers in private institutions arguing then that unlike their counterparts in government-aided schools, salaries for privately contracted teachers were terminated almost immediately following the sudden closure of institutions of learning.

Meanwhile, the private schools owners have asked the government to avoid abrupt closure of schools without working on modalities on how learners would be transported home.

Ms Muwonge said the number of learners sent home recently surpassed   the available means of transport.

While reading the 2021/2022 Financial Year Budget allocation, government was not clear on how they are going to help private schools recover from Covid-19 shock.  However, the Minister of State for Finance, Planning and Economic Development (planning) designate, Mr Amos Lugoloobi, yesterday said the government allocated extra Shs103b to Uganda Development Bank as a stimulus package.

“Access to affordable medium-to-long term capital is key to boosting business. Uganda Development Bank will be further capitalized with an additional Shs103b in financial year 2021/2022, in addition to the Shs555b disbursed this Financial Year 2020/2021 for lending to Small and Medium Enterprises affected by the Covid-19 pandemic, among others,” Mr Lugoloobi said.