Govt should tame schools on fees

Pupils share food during lunchtime at school. Private schools are set to increase fees. Photo / Joseph Kiggundu

What you need to know:

  • The issue: Fees hikes.
  • Our view: It is high time government puts its foot down and implements this statutory instrument. Parents have for long been exploited by school entrepreneurs.

Last week, the Law Development Centre (LDC) became the latest in a growing number of institutions that are increasing tuition fees against an outcry from the public.

In the same week that news of the increment at the Bar Course emerged – Shs5m to Shs6m for Ugandan and East African students – Members of Parliament summoned the minister of Education to explain the high school fees, among other issues affecting the education sector. A recent article by this newspaper reported that most schools countrywide had increased tuition fees from between Shs30,000 to Shs100,000 as learners report for third term.

But the current inflationary pressures are just among the challenges that have rocked the education sector in the recent past.

Schools only reopened at the beginning of this year after close to two years of closure after the President ordered 15 million learners to go back home as a measure to curb the spread of Covid-19 that was ravaging the world.

The current increase in global prices have been attributed to the aftermath of the Covid-19 lockdowns and the Russian invasion of Ukraine, and its effects have not spared the education sector. School proprietors and managers say their operational costs have more than doubled. 

Uganda Bureau of Statistics’ latest consumer price index, for instance, reports that there has been a significant increase in the prices of posho and beans that most schools feed learners on.

Whereas school managers have a valid reason to increase tuition fees to match today’s inflationary pressures, the outcry by parents and guardians stems from the usual hikes they are subjected to. Many parents are subjected to charges and requirements such as provision of scholastic materials, contribution towards the purchase of a school bus and development of the schools, among other charges, usually without being consulted.

In May, Education minister Janet Museveni said her ministry had drafted a statutory instrument intended to regulate school fees and other charges in institutions of learning.

The Education Act empowers the minister from time to time to make regulations for purposes of regulating the fees payable by any school.

Ms Museveni said at the time that they were going to embark on the consultation phase with the different stakeholders, but four months later, parents still seem to be at the mercy of school administrators.

It is high time government puts its foot down and implements this statutory instrument. Parents have for long been exploited by school entrepreneurs, some of whom prioritise profit over the education of their learners.