Schools teach without SOPs as districts block govt funds

Monday October 26 2020
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Students report at Kisubi Mapeera Senior Secondary School, Entebbe, on October 12. PHOTO/DAVID LUBOWA

By Damali Mukhaye

Some government-aided schools are operating without standard operating procedures (SOPs) after chief administrative officers (CAOs) withheld their capitation grants that were recently released by the Ministry of Finance following the reopening of academic institutions, Daily Monitor has learnt.

One of the affected head teachers in Wakiso, who did not want to be named, said more than 100 schools in the district do not have money to buy the SOPs since their capitation grants have been blocked.

The head teacher said their money is being withheld because they did not refund the capitation grants, which government gave to schools for the second term while schools were still closed over Covid-19.

In July, the ministry of Finance asked all accounting officers (CAOs) in the districts to refund the capitation grant the government had sent to schools on ground they did not use the money since they were still closed at that time.

“We received the capitation grant in June and we used that money to pay private teachers working in government schools, slashing the compound of the schools that had become bushy during the lockdown, and paid the security officers who were looking after the building. We called the government auditors and they approved and cleared our budgets,” the source said.

Spent funds deducted
“When the government released the money that was supposed to be for the third term, for buying SOPs, we were shocked to learn that they had deducted what we had in the previous quota when schools were still closed. Most of us have not bought SOPs and some heads of schools got the SOPs on credit and they are being put under pressure to repay the debt. We do not know what to do,” the source added.

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The secretary general of the Uganda National Teachers Union (Unatu), Mr Filbert Baguma, said the problem of withheld funds cuts across the country where a number of schools in northern, eastern and south-western Uganda are operating without SOPs because the accounting officers are withholding their capitation grant.

“As I talk right now, there are some schools that opened but they do not have the money to buy SOPs. This puts people’s children at risk of contracting Covid-19. It is an unfortunate situation and accounting officers need to know that they will be held accountable if anything comes thereafter. They are the ones causing this confusion,” Mr Baguma said.

An October 13 letter from the Wakiso CAO, Mr Godfrey Kuruhiira, which Daily Monitor has seen, instructs all managers of various banks to only release funds to schools that do not owe government.

Yesterday, Mr Kuruhiira said they received instructions from the ministry of Finance to recover the capitation funds that were released for the fourth  quarter, and some schools had not refunded it or given accountability.

He said they are not holding anyone’s money but just following government orders.
 “We received instructions to recover money from all schools for the fourth quarter, so I gave instructions to the banks not to allow the schools to draw money beyond the balance of the fourth quarter fund. Although the schools claim they used the money, there is no evidence of accountability of the money they used...,” Mr Kuruhira explained.

The director of Basic and Secondary School Education at the Ministry of Education, Mr Ismail Mulindwa who has been heading the inspection of schools, declined to comment on the matter, saying he was attending a meeting yesterday. The ministry of Education permanent secretary, Mr Alex Kakooza, could not be reached for a comment yesterday as his known telephone numbers were switched off.

Looking back
 In July, the permanent secretary in the Ministry of Finance, Mr Keith Muhakanizi, wrote to all CAOs, indicating that the funds that said since schools were still closed by government following the outbreak of Covid-19 and students did not study the second term, all the capitation grants must be refunded.

Some schools refunded the money but others did not. They argued that they had spent the money on maintaining the schools during the lockdown.

dmukhaye@ug.nationmedia.com

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