EDUCATION

Parliament directs Education Ministry to stop school fees increment ahead of term three reopening

Members of the committee will carry out oversight visits to schools in a bid to comprehensively investigate the continued hike in fees

Members of the committee will carry out oversight visits to schools in a bid to comprehensively investigate the continued hike in fees

KAMPALA – Members of Parliament on the Committee on Education and Sports want the line ministry to develop a tuition policy for all schools to ease the pressure of school fees rates on parents.

The MPs have also voiced strong concern about the increase of school fees in government-aided and private schools, especially during a running school year.

Their concerns were raised following a submission by Kole North County MP, Samuel Opio, on the school fees hike in schools across Uganda, presented on Wednesday, 31 August 2022 during interaction with the committee.

Opio cited the Uganda Bureau of Statistics (UBOS) household survey of 2019/2020 where net enrollment in secondary schools stood at 27.3 percent compared to primary school enrollment at 80 percent.

He called on the government to offer bursary schemes in each district to support secondary and vocational training for the best performers as a mechanism to strengthen enrollment.

Opio noted that fees currently charged by government-aided schools are discriminatory and deny an equal opportunity to every citizen to attain the highest educational standards possible.

He also observed that secondary education in several instances is more costly than university or tertiary education.

“Section 3 (b) of the Education Act empowers the Minister from time to time, to make regulations for purposes of regulating the fees payable by any school,” said Opio.

“My prayer to this committee is that the Ministry of Education suspends any increase in school fees for the third term. It is important for the committee to delve into the school fees structure of various schools because some are highly inflated,” he added.

Opio observed that school boards of governors which are the main determinants of school fees defied directives from the Ministry of Education as of 11 January 2022, and have continued to increase fees unabated.

He noted that much as the rise in food costs is evident, any increase in school fees must be balanced with the constitutional obligation for every citizen to attain the highest standard of education possible.

“The Ministry [of Education] or District Education Officers should take action including but not limited to the suspension of the board of governors of schools that decided against the ministry directive halting the further increase in school fees,” Opio prayed to the Committee.

Hon. Opio also called on the ministry to expedite the enactment of statutory regulations to regulate fees payable by various schools, preferably before the beginning of the next schooling year in 2023.

He said that it will be prudent for a fees structure for schools to be standardized with additional categories approved by the Minister for Education and Sports.

He added that government should offer nursery schemes in each district to support secondary and vocational training for the best performers as a mechanism to strengthen enrollment.

Hon. Nathan Itungo (Indep., Kashari South County) observed that a number of schools include many items on the school fees structure that are not related to tuition, and added that discussions with the education minister can go a long way in checking this.

Hon. Geoffrey Ekanya (FDC, Tororo North County) said it would be unfair to reduce fees of private schools because they suffered during the COVID-19 period, but advised that the quality of government schools should be improved.

Jonam County MP, Hon. Emmanuel Ongiertho observed that Parent Teacher Associations (PTAs) in schools participate in driving many of the decisions of the boards of governors, and tasked parents to make decisions in favour of other parents.

AUDIO: Maj. Jennifer Alanyo

Maj. Jennifer Alanyo (UPDF Representative) called for an amendment to how boards of governors in schools are appointed and managed, and also called for school fees increments to be spread across the school year rather than termly.

Hon. Agnes Acibu (NRM, Nebbi district) and Hon. Jane Awich (NRM, Kaberamaido district) asked the government to develop a proper strategy to regulate high school fees structures in every region.

Committee chairperson, Hon. John Twesigye (NRM, Bunyaruguru County), said the members will make field visits to schools and carry out a comprehensive investigation into the matter of the hike in fees.

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