Parents In Kabarole Disagree With UPE Schools On Pupils' Lunch

3271 Views Fort Portal, Uganda

In short
Some parents in Kabarole district have refused to send their children to school until they are provided with lunch at school.

Some parents in Kabarole district have refused to send their children to school until they are provided with lunch at school.

Under the Universal Primary Education (UPE) programme, parents still think government must provide free lunch in addition to the free education. However the government insists that parents whose children attend the UPE schools must pack lunch for them.

Since the beginning of the second term three weeks ago, four schools under the UPE programme have registered a low turn up of pupils. The schools include Nyamugasi and Kyenzige primary schools in Katebwa Sub County, and Bulemba and Kagezi schools in Kichwamba Sub County.

At Nyamugasi Primary School with a population of 900 pupils, some of the classrooms were empty while in others, there were few pupils.

Francis Kajura, the headmaster says more than 300 pupils haven’t reported to school since the beginning of the second term. Kajura says that during the Parents and Teachers Association (PTA) meeting, some parents vowed not to take their children until the school provides lunch.

Kajura says the school doesn’t have adequate funds to provide meals for the pupils and teachers. He says parents were told to contribute some funds to purchase food, but they rejected the idea.

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Steven Masereka, a father of three says that he can only afford to provide supper for his family.

He also says there is no time to prepare lunch for the children.  Masereka says the government should provide lunch for pupils, since they are also studying free of charge.

Masereka whose two children go to Nyamugasi Primary School says that they would rather remain at home, instead of going to school and starve.

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Grace Mukonyezi, a parent says that she and other parents are subsistence farmers with no money to provide lunch for their children. Mukonyezi says the whole of last term her children didn’t have lunch. 

Patrick Rwakaikara, the Kabarole district education officer says failure to provide lunch shouldn’t be a justification for parents not to take their children to school. He says the district will enforce the bylaw passed last year, if the parents don’t take their children to school.

Last year, the education minister, Jessica Alupo, said cabinet had revised its policy on school feeding in UPE schools. According to Alupo, the school management committees will be allowed to collect and manage money for lunch as long as the parents accept to pay it.

According to a World Bank report published in 2011, the misconception of universal primary education being totally free by parents leaves close to 50 % of the pupils attending classes on empty stomachs.

The report states that 90% of the pupils are enrolled to study in UPE schools most of them in rural parts of Uganda.

 

About the author

Emmanuel Kajubu
Emmanuel Kajubu is proud to have been the first Ugandan journalist to write in depth pieces about the Tooro Kingdom institution. His knowledge of the inner workings of the Tooro Kingdom is what made him privy to the splits in the royal family. These splits almost challenged Tooro Omukama Oyo Nyimba Iguru's reign.

Culture, agriculture and the environment are just two areas of many of interest to Kajubu. As long as he has held a pen, Kajubu has also written about public policy, health and crime.

Kajubu is keen on impacting his society not just as a writer but also a trainer and mentor. Bundibugyo and Ntoroko districts fall under his docket. Kajubu has been a URN staff member since 2008.