Analysis

ANALYSIS: Govt-aided schools hike fees than private schools, details show

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Education Minister Janet Museveni (PHOTO /File)

KAMPALA — The Ministry of Education has broken silence on the frosty simmering relations with school managers—threatening regulatory sanctions especially against private schools for hiking fees ahead of school reopening next week but details show that government aided schools are actually charging highly than the private schools.

Tension is already simmering between Ministry of Education and school owners, with education authorities accusing the latter of profiteering from the struggling parents—only details to show that the regulator is either biased or not on ground.

Meanwhile, there’s is also deepening row between school operators and parents on the recovery of school fees paid during the term that prematurely ended in June this year, at the start of the second COVID-19 lockdown.

Several parents had just paid school fees for their children when the government announced the lockdown just a day to the scheduled reopening for children in lower primary, and less than a month into school for a few other classes.

But on closure, not a single penny was returned to them yet students never received the service.

With the discussion going on, some schools have already communicated to their parents highlighting that if one had paid fees, he will not be charged again. For instance, we has seen a memo from Kabojja Junior School informing parents that all those who had paid fees in June, will not be charged again for the upcoming term.

“…this is to reaffirm that those students who had paid school fees for the term that was meant to start on June 6, 2021, will have those sums credited to the first term of next year (2022). Please disregard the banking slips. Confirmation of payment may be collected from accounts offices,” the memo read in part.

Parents expect that the government should this time do something to ensure that schools don’t cheat them.

However, the Ministry of Education and Sports has over the years failed to regulate or have a say about school fees in  schools leaving parents at mercy of schools.

Govt schools hike tuition fees

Government-aided schools have defied the Ministry of Education order barring schools from hiking fees, and are charging much more than several private schools in the country.

We sampled some of the best performing secondary schools in the country, and these are charging exponentially higher fees than most private schools.

For instance, at St Mary’s College Kisubi in Wakiso district, a government-aided school, Senior One students will pay UGX2.8m in fees.

According to the fees structure for the academic year 2022, which starts on January 10, students will pay more fees in form of Parents, Teachers Association (PTA) contributions (UGX.1.47m), than the actual tuition fees (UGX. 55,000).

In addition, learners will pay UGX15,000 for PTA general meetings and a separate academic guidance fee of UGX. 82,000.

Students will also pay for computer separately from internet, charged at UGX23,000 and UGX. 16,000, respectively.

The students will also pay for swimming pool and sports and games at UGX. 22,000 and UGX. 43,000, respectively.

Another charge is payment for acua toilet, water system and sanitary at UGX 38,000, UGX72,500 and UGX 20,000, respectively.

Kisubi students will also pay for renovation, as well as development fees, charged at UGX. 80,000 and UGX. 160,000, respectively.

New students will pay UGX. 15,500 as church dues, separate from Provincial Education Secretariat charged at UGX. 70,000.

The Provincial Education Secretariat is under Kampala Archdiocese (Catholic).

The archdiocese runs over 273 academic institutions at primary, secondary, tertiary and university levels.

The students will also pay for headteachers’ activities under their umbrella body, the Association of Secondary School Headteachers Uganda (ASSHU).

Nabisunsa Girls’ School, on the other hand, is also charging UGX. 2.8m for new entrants, according the fees structure obtained from one of the parents.

The charges at Kisubi and Nabisunsa are much higher compared what is charged at Seeta High School, St Mary’s Secondary School Kitende and St Joseph SS Naggalama, all private schools.

The trio are ranked alongside the top government-aided schools, but new entrants will pay UGX2.59m at Kitende and UGX. 2.4m at Seeta.

At St Joseph’s SS Naggalama, new entrants will pay UGX. 2.3m, according to the fees structure.

According to the school fees structure we have obtained from parents, the situation is similar in several top government-aided schools, such as Kibuli, Makerere College and Mengo.

The Senior One charges are not any different from that paid by Senior Five students.

At Kibuli, students will be required to pay UGX. 2.4m, including school uniforms for Senior One.

At Makerere College School, on the other hand, Senior One students will pay UGX 1.9m.

Mengo, a government-aided, purely day school, is charging UGX. 1m in fees.

Gayaza High school, a government-aided, is charging UGX. 2374,300 from UGX 1,646,750, UGX. 2,182,300 from 1,609,750, UGX2196,250 from 1,350,700 and UGX. 2,233,250 from 1,387,700 for S.2, S.3, S. 4 and S.6 respectively in fees.

“Having considered that the new term will be 14 weeks as compared to the 10 weeks that had been planned for previously and that the school has also incurred fixed costs on maintenance, security, electricity bills, loan repayment and the current hiking fuel costs; the finance committee of the Board approved that all students pay a top up fee for the new term as follows,” the school wrote in a memo to parents.

However, the fees structure for upcountry top government-aided secondary schools are much lower than those in Kampala.

Ntare School and Maryhill High School, both in Mbarara, are charging UGX 1.4m and UGX1.5m in fees for new entrants, respectively.

These charges cover admission fees, as well as other charges, such as school uniform.

Schools are scheduled to open on Monday, January 10, 2022.

Headteachers of government-aided schools declined to comment on the subject.

On Tuesday, State Minister for Higher Education John Chrysostom Muyingo said no private institution will be allowed to make any school fees adjustments without requesting the Ministry of Education.

“No Institution will be allowed to make any school fees adjustments without requesting the ministry of education because even parents have been greatly affected by the Covid-19 pandemic,” he said.

A source at the ministry, quoted by New Vision in December 2021, said the First Lady and Minister for Education and Sports, Mrs Janet Museveni, had instructed the technical team to develop a statutory instrument on schools fees charges.

It is not immediately clear whether the statutory instrument has been developed or not.

“The First Lady wanted the instrument ready as soon as possible, but it is like the responsible people have dragged for long,” a source quoted by New Vision said at the time.

Mrs. Museveni reportedly wanted to regulate the fees charged by both private and government-aided schools.

As part of the recommendations for the proposed National Policy on Private Provision of Education in Uganda, Government seeks to regulate fees in private schools.

If it goes according to plan, no private school will increase school fees or any other charges without the consent of the education ministry.

In addition, all entities intending to increase tuition or fees will have to obtain express permission from the ministry.

The express permission, which serves as permit to increase fees, will only be issued by the ministry permanent secretary.

However, Dr Denis Mugimba, the education ministry spokesperson, said that Government pays salaries for 31 teachers at each of the schools.

In addition, he said government allocates capital development to each of these schools whenever there is need.

Additional reporting by New Vision

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