Parliament rejects committee report on school fees
What you need to know:
- The Deputy Speaker of Parliament, Mr Thomas Tayebwa, said the report fell short of the expectations of the House and ordered the committee to work on a new comprehensive and better report
- Nabisunsa Girls Secondary School charged Shs1.9 million, Kawempe Muslim Secondary School charged Shs1.5 million, and King’s College Budo charged up to Shs2.3 million.
The Deputy Speaker of Parliament, Mr Thomas Tayebwa, yesterday rejected a report by the Education Committee on the exorbitant fees charged by schools.
Mr Tayebwa said the report fell short of the expectations of the House and ordered the committee to work on a new comprehensive and better report.
“I am going to use my prerogative and direct the committee to go back, study the report again, update it, you consider members’ issues and report back after one month,” Mr Tayebwa said.
This followed criticism from some of the legislators who said the report, which was written by Brenda Nabukenya (Luwero District Woman), was substandard.
However, a section of legislators asked that the minority report, which pointed out anomalies in the way schools charge fees and offered practical recommendations, be adopted instead of sending the team back.
Ms Cecilia Ogwal (Dokolo Woman) said: “It is high time Parliament began considering the substance of the minority report with a bit of seriousness. We have the views of the majority of the Committee in one document and the disagreements in another report.”
She added: “…why don’t we approve the minority report and show that the people of the minority report work very hard, are patriotic and produce the real substance?”
Mr Joseph Ssewungu Gonzaga (Kalungu West) wondered why the report cannot be concluded since it had already been debated.
“In a matter of fairness whenever members discuss a committee report, the committee chairperson has to come back and dispute some wrong information that is given on the floor. I beg for your indulgence that your ruling could allow the chairperson to come and dispute the wrong information on record,” Mr Ssewungu said.
However, Mr Tayebwa shot down both suggestions, saying if he allowed Parliament to consider the minority report alone, the issues in the main report, which the House had agreed with, would all be null and void.
He added that he was giving a lease of life for the committee to go back and do a better job.
While addressing Parliament on February 9, 2022, Ms Sarah Achieng Opendi (Tororo District Woman) urged the government to address the issue of the exorbitant tuition and non-tuition fees charged by government-aided schools.
Ms Opendi asked the government to streamline the tuition and non-tuition fees charged by government-aided schools.
She also asked the government to justify why it continues to give statutory grants to government-aided schools that charge exorbitant tuition and non-tuition fees.
On August 16, 2022, Mr Samuel Opio Acuti (Kole County North) raised a matter of national importance in Parliament over the planned increase of school fees by the National Private Education Institutions Association during the third term of the year 2022 premised on the rising commodity prices. Subsequently, the Speaker referred the matter to the Education Committee.
Upon scrutiny of the matter, the committee observed that the matter closely relates to the motion previously referred to the committee and, therefore, resolved to handle them together.
The committee in its findings noted that while the government is mandated to shoulder the biggest financial burden in the running and operations of government-aided schools by providing both recurrent and development funding which are essential for the smooth running of schools, some government grant-aided schools allege that the charging of such tuition and non-tuition fees is inevitable because the government pays salaries and wages of only a small percentage of the teaching and non-teaching staff.
They said there are many other expenses involved in running the schools including utilities and the infrastructure needed for students and staff which the government hardly provides for.
According to Schedule 3 paragraph 10 (d) of the Education (Pre-primary, Primary and Post-Primary) Act, 2008, the boards of governors of schools are mandated to fix fees and other charges with the approval of the Minister of Education. This is augmented by Section 57 (g) which obligates the Minister to regulate fees payable at any school. In addition, in order to ensure compliance by the government-aided schools, section 7 of the Education (Pre-primary, Primary and Post-Primary) Act, 2008 grants the Ministry of Education and Sports powers to determine which schools should continue being aided by the government.
The Committee in its report found out that a number of government-aided schools including Kibuli Secondary School, Nabisunsa Girls Secondary School, Kawempe Muslim Secondary School, St Mary’s College Kisubi, Gayaza High School and King’s College Budo were charging exorbitant school fees.
The report noted that Kibuli Secondary School charged Shs1.9 million for Senior One, Two, Three and Five while Senior Four paid Shs2 million and Senior Six paid Shs2.2 million. St Mary’s College Kisubi charged Shs2.4 million, while Gayaza High charged up to Shs1.8 million at the highest end.
Nabisunsa Girls Secondary School charged Shs1.9 million, Kawempe Muslim Secondary School charged Shs1.5 million, and King’s College Budo charged up to Shs2.3 million.
The committee said during the interactions, it was informed that out of the six selected schools that applied for the approval of the school fees increment, only Kibuli Secondary School obtained the ministry’s approval as required under the law because it had taken over 10 years without revising its school fees. All the other schools had revised their school fees without clearance from the Ministry.
However, the rest of the schools informed the committee that their budgets, which were based on the increased fees, were approved by the ministry.
The committee also discovered that several schools wrote to the ministry seeking approval to review their school fees.
“… there is need for the government to fully meet its obligations by funding government grant-aided schools as envisaged under the aforementioned Act, as this would deter from unnecessary increment of school fees,” the report reads in part.