UPE pupils quit school over 100% fees hike

The Ministry of Education and Sports spokesperson, Mr Dennis Mugimba. Photo | File

A Universal Primary Education school (UPE) in Wakiso District, which was relocated to pave the way for construction of the proposed Museum Tower, has lost half of its learners aft er it hiked fees by 100 percent.

This publication understands that Namugongo Mixed Primary School, a government-aided and Church of Uganda-founded school, increased its fees from Shs100,000 to Shs200,000 per term.

Ms Debora Kimeze, the head teacher of the school, said the hike in fees followed the school’s relocation from the Anglican shrine in Namugongo to a two-acre piece of land in the neighbourhood. She revealed that the population of the school had dropped from 500 to 300 following the fee increment.

“When we were on the other side, we had about 500 pupils, but the number dropped to about 300 as per last term.  We thank God for the new place but already, we are facing fi nancial challenges. We lack enough funds to maintain the school. That is why we had to increase fees by 100 percent yet most of our parents do petty trade and cannot afford it,” she said.

Ms Kimeze said the new school is tiled, has modern waterborne toilets, electricity, glass doors and windows, security cameras and fi re extinguishers and that maintaining such facilities calls for financial support. She also said the management was considering hiring three security personnel.

Ms Kimeze further noted that although the school receives capitation grant of Shs2.7m per quarter attached to different votes, the funds were like a drop in the ocean, given the high cost of maintaining facilities at the new site.

She revealed that last term, the school spent about Shs1.2m on water bills alone.

“The government can come in to assist. We cannot manage to foot all the bills,” she said. Dr Dennis Mugimba, the spokesperson of the Ministry of Education and Sports, however said for any school to be supported, they must express their need. “They must forward their need to the ministry so that it can be analysed before a decision is taken,”Dr Mujimba said.

Ms Hadijah Nanyombi, a former parent and a mother of three, who sells cassava chips at Nakiyanja Trading Centre in Namugongo, said the new fees policy forced her to take her daughter to a village school.

“I took her to a cheaper UPE school in Katikanyonyi Village in Kayunga District where I only pay Shs50,000 per term,” Ms Nanyombi said.

Rev Esau Bbosa, the chairperson of the school’s Management Committee, said they engaged parents before reaching a decision to increase the fees.