Schools hike fees over high market prices

Parents assist their children with luggage at Kyebambe Girls SS on June 7 last year after government closed schools to contain the spread of Covid-19. PHOTO / ALEX ASHABA

What you need to know:

  • Mr Julius Opaso, the head teacher of  Teso College Aloet in Soroti District, told this newspaper that the board of governors did not authorise any fees increment irrespective of the increasing cost of operation and cost of living.

A section of schools across the country have slightly increased school fees structures to match the daily operation costs following the rising market prices.

Ngora High School in Ngora District has increased its fees by Shs70,000 on top of Shs566,000 the students have been paying for both O and A level.

The head teacher, Mr Eliphaz Ewalu Opolot, said the board of governors made the decision following the escalating food prices due to prolonged drought and increasing cost of living.

“The board agreed to have a fees increment of Shs70,000 to all classes for next term. All classes will pay Shs636,000,” Mr Ewalu said.

The school is also asking for a ream of paper for S1 and S2 students, while S3-S6 learners are required to bring printing paper, besides Shs10,000 as medical fee for each student.

Mr Julius Opaso, the head teacher of  Teso College Aloet in Soroti District, told this newspaper that the board of governors did not authorise any fees increment irrespective of the increasing cost of operation and cost of living.

He said for the fees structure for continuing O-Level students stands at Shs740,000, while for A-Level is at Shs830,000.

Mr David Omali, the head teacher of  Olila High School, Soroti town, said they have maintained the structure at Shs423,000 for borders, while day scholars part with Shs193,000.

Mr Samuel Ediau, the head teacher of Light Secondary School, said they maintained the old structure because many students failed to clear fees for first term.

O-Level students pay Shs203,000, while boarders pay Shs503,000. A-Level day scholars pay Shs213, 000, while boarders Shs553,000.

In western region, Uganda Martyrs Primary School in Mbarara increased fees from Shs83,000 to Shs116,000.

Three Stars Junior School in Mbarara slightly hiked fees from Shs125,000 to Shs135,000, Mbarara Municipal School from Shs80,000 to Shs120, 000, and Dreamland High School from Shs450,000 to Shs465,000.

“You are aware of the Covid-19 effects, the rising commodity prices. We cannot operate without increasing prices, we still have loans we have been servicing that have attracted higher interests,” Mr Asumpta Ainebyoona, the director of Three Stars Junior School,  said.

Mr Laban Kanywa, the chairperson of Federation of Non State Institutions in Western Uganda, said:  “There is no way schools can stop increasing fees when the prices of goods and services remain high.”

Some schools that claim not to have increased fees seem to be channelling to indirect costs such as church fees, building funds, remedial lessons, and buying utilities such as reams of papers and  brooms.

The head teacher of Fort Portal SS, Mr Regan Katerrega, said the decision to increase fees will be made by the school board and parents.

“Government prevented us from increasing schools but the challenge is that the prices have gone high,” he said.

His  Kyebambe Girls SS counterpart, Ms Esther Gidudu, said they will hold an annual general meeting with parents  on April 30 to deliberate on the matter.

“The prices of commodities have gone high and we want our parents to understand us, and we are going to the same market yet the school fees have remained the same,” she said.

Ms Gidudu said the school closed when some of the suppliers were still demanding money from them.

In districts that constitute Buganda region such as Butambala, many schools have hiked fees as result of skyrocketing prices of items.

According to Hajji Abdallah Kiwuli Kibuuka, the deputy head teacher of Gombe SS, it will be difficult for schools to reopen for a second term if they don’t slightly increase fees.

Gombe SS has increased fees from Shs970,000 to Shs1,110,000.

Mr Joseph Kirwana, the deputy head teacher of Nabyewanga Primary School, Mpigi District , said management resolved to increase fees by Shs50,000 effective next term.  “We are in a very difficult situation and to keep afloat, we have to increase the fees,”  Mr Kirwana said.

He said a teacher, who has been earning Shs200,000, can longer survive on it,  and they have also asked for an increment so that they can be able to meet their basic needs.

In Arua City, Ms Mildred Maneno, said:  “The school where my children are has added Shs30,000 which I think is fair. The schools are also facing challenges of running these [institutions] because of the effects of Covid-19 lockdown.”

 Mr George Adaku, a another parent, said: “The problem is the schools ambushed some of us with increment. But some schools also faced the Covid-19 lockdown and they have not added fees. I think this is exploitation because parents need protection from these kinds of things.”

Fr Gerald Mabirizi, the head teacher of St Francis De Sales Secondary Schools in Tororo District, said they have increased fees by Shs50,000 to cater for rising costs of foodstuff.

The students have been paying Shs450, 000, but they will now pay Shs500,000 this coming term, according to the issued notices.

At Mbale Progressive Secondary School in Mbale City, the school has increased fees for A Level students from Shs225,000 to Shs275,000.

 Mr Musa Wanambwa, a teacher at Oxford High School in Mbale City, said day students pay Shs150,000, while boarders Shs450,000.

“They understand that parents don’t have money and they are struggling to meet the high costs of living,” he said.

Tororo Girls School has increased fees to Shs846,000 from Shs726, 000.

At Mbale SS, fees has not changed with  Shs252,500being charged for O-Level and A-Level Shs282500.

Bukedi College, Kachonga in Butaleja District has also maintained fees at Shs500,000 as well as St Paul’s College, Mbale at Shs650,000.

In Namutumba District, Mr Nicodemus Isabirye, the director Victory Nursery and Primary School in Nabinyonyi Village, Kiwanyi Sub-county, said he increased the fees from Shs50,000 to Shs70, 000 for day scholars to cater for “development” and to buy solar panels.

“We have been using generators as our source of power, but the high fuel prices have made us add extra money to install solar systems as our permanent source of power,” he told this newspaper on Monday.

In Kamuli District, the director of Eagles Nest Primary School, Mr Herbert Ntende, said due to food scarcity and high utility costs, each boarder will pay Shs50,000 more, up from Shs250,000 to Shs300,000, while day scholars will each come with 10kgs of maize and 5kgs of beans and an additional Shs5,000 for the cooks.

The director of Oxford Secondary School in Kavule, Namasagali, Mr Mike Makubo, said they added Shs45,000 to the previous fees, 3kgs of sugar and a ream of photocopy paper due to expenses and expected scarcity of food.

“The parents can bring real items or their equivalent,” he added.

The head teacher of Lango College, Mr Sammy Bob Okino, said they have not yet increased the fees, but are most likely to after calling the PTA annual general meeting.

Mr Okino said the current fees structure of Shs490,000, which is charged for both O and A- Level was made in 2014.

“Unless we increase the school fees, we shall not be in position to look after our students next term, so we shall request parents to pay some top up,” he added.

Lira Town College, which has the highest student enrollment of 3,400, however maintained that they will not make any fees increment next term.

The head teacher, Ms Sophie Acen, said their fees will remain at Shs350,000.

“This is a government school for poor parents, which gives them an opportunity to educate their children,” she said.

Mr Levi Abongo, the deputy head teacher in charge of administration of St Katherine Secondary School, Lira, said their fees remain the same with Senior One paying Shs551,600, S2 (Shs480,800), S3 (Shs486,800), S5 (Shs567,900) and S6 (Shs575,800).

The head teacher of Seseme Girls School in Kisoro District, Ms Peace Ruzaza, said fees remained at Shs299,000 because majority of the students failed to pay it while others dropped out, claiming that it was too high.

The head teacher of Kigezi High School in Kabale District, Mr Abraham Akampurira, said fees remained at Shs800,000.

At Bubare Secondary School in Rubanda District, management said their fees has been at Shs330,000 for boarders, while Shs150,000 for day scholars for  fear of causing a possible high rate of dropouts .

The director for Kabale Brainstorm High School, Mr Erasmus Habasa, said fees remained at Shs680,000.

St Joseph’s College Ombaci, one of the traditional schools in West Nile Sub-region, has hiked fees to Shs700,000 from Shs680,000. Moyo Secondary School has also increased its fees from Shs240,000 to Shs280,000.

Compiled by: Simon Peter Emwamu, George Muron, Rajab Mukombozi, Alex Ashaba, Al-Mahdi Ssenkabirwa, Brian Adams Kesiime , Felix Warom, Fred Wambede , Joseph Omollo , Philip Wafula, Sam Opio Caleb & Ronald Seebe , Rashul Adidi and Scovin Iceta, Robert Muhereza, Emmanuel Arineitwe, Patrick Ebong, Karim Muyobo, Precious Delilah,Priscila Maloba