Owners sell off schools to repay loans

Monday March 01 2021
me01pix

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

By Our Reporters

            

A number of private schools continue to face the resultant effects of Covid-19 as some proprietors sell off their schools following pressure from unserviced loans and utilities.

Lucrative private schools, which thrived on fees, are now in a financial meltdown, and have had their teachers go without salaries since the Covid-19 induced lockdown was slapped on schools to control the spread of Covid-19 pandemic.

Based on a survey executed by Daily Monitor into the effects of Covid-19, across the country, primary, nursery and secondary schools have all had a bitter pinch as they struggle to stave off the financial woes orchestrated by the pandemic while others have been advertised off by banks.

In Namutumba District, the Covid-19 induced financial distress has forced the director for Rise and Shine Nursery and Primary School, Mr Paul Kaluya, out of business.

Mr Kaluya told this newspaper in a recent interview that he sold off his school at Shs12m due to loan pressure from a moneylender, which had hit the Shs20m mark, including interest.

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He says his decision was arrived at after making a loss of Shs15m. 

“Had it not been for Covid-19 pandemic, I would not have lost my school, or if I had land elsewhere, I would have instead sold the land and left the school,” he says.

Mr Kaluya said before the pandemic, he used to pay his loans from school fees collections. In Soroti District, the suffocation brought about by Covid-19 has not spared government schools’ smooth operations. 

Mr Julius Opaaso, the head teacher of Teso College Aloet, with scores of teachers paid by Parents and Teachers Association (PTA) funds, says they have recently had to put on hold development projects to balance academic priorities.

“There are construction projects we have put to rest [such as] renovation of teachers houses and school fence because we are financially constrained,” he says. 

Mr Opaaso says they have more than 20 teachers on PTA, whose salary requirements and other privileges are hard to meet freely.  

Mr Andrew Omiat, one among many teachers who have hired Alliance High school in Soroti for business from the proprietors, says private schools are limping.

 “We are operating the hired vast school for two candidate classes, we have to pay utilities and teachers. Unfortunately, a month to final examinations, many students have not cleared outstanding fees,” he says.

Mr Omiat says if some incentives are not provided for by the government, proprietors of private schools will have no option but to sell their schools.

In Gulu City, Moonlight Nursery and Primary School in Bungatira has been sold off, following difficulty to pay a loan from a microfinance company.

Proprietors of Brain Bridge High School in Bunyangabu District have  also lost it as result of a non-serviced bank loan.
The bank, through its lawyers, advertised the school for sale. 

Stuck
Mr Muhammad Byaruhanga, the director, says due to the closure of the schools for almost one year, he was unable to continue servicing the loan since the school was earning nothing.

“The bank advertised the school and it is on sale. I have nowhere to get the money to clear the loan because the biggest source is closed,” he says.

Mr Swaibu Kasadha, the director of Savanna Nursery and Primary School in Kigalama Village, Namutumba Sub- county, says enrolment of pupils reduced due to the pandemic.

In Jinja City, a director is set to sell belongings to reopen his school. 

Mr Muzamil Musembya of Bugwenge Blue Day and Boarding Primary School, says he will sell part of his property to get money to reorganise the school as more pupils in semi –candidate classes return this month.

He says there was a lot of theft and vandalism of school property during the lockdown.

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