UPE Schools Struggle to Operate Amidst Delayed Funding

3053 Views Masaka, Uganda

In short
However, three weeks into the second term, schools are now struggling to survive following governments delay in remitting the funds. Our reporter in Masaka reports that many of the schools in the area now operate on debts.

Schools under universal primary and Universal Secondary education programmes are protesting the delayed release of funding from the central government. They argue that the delay has crippled school activities.

The two programs are some of Government’s main policy tools for achieving poverty reduction and human development. They were designed to make education equitable in order to eliminate disparities and inequalities and ensure that education is affordable by the majority of Ugandans.

As part of the implementation, the ministry of education provides both Capitation and school facility grants to government aided schools implementing the programs. The grants are paid on the basis of the number of students enrolled in a school and the level of education. 
However, three weeks into the second term, schools are now struggling to survive following governments delay in remitting the funds. Our reporter in Masaka reports that many of the schools in the area now operate on debts. Some of the affected schools are Kijabweemi primary school, Nyendo Public school Binyonyi, Kimanya primary school, Bwala Muslim and St. Bruno primary school among others.
The development comes at the backdrop of reports indicating that government intends to reduce the UPE capitation grant from the current rate of Ugx 7,569 per pupil to Ugx 6,800 per pupil per year.  The reports were based on the National Budget Framework Paper for the financial years 2014/15 to 2018/19 published in March 2014 by the ministry of Education and Sports.

Moses Nsereko Ssebuliba, the UNATU coordinator in Greater Masaka Region says some schools have missed the beginning of term examinations due to lack of funds. He explains that many of the affected schools cannot afford to print examinations papers and have stretched beyond the limit to keep the schools running.

David Ssigenda, the Head teacher of Kijabweemi primary school says the schools would survive on the Ugx 30,000 that each pupil pays at school. However about 80% of the pupils have not yet cleared the cost. Ssigenda adds that the school has also failed to clear its utility bills leading to a disconnection of services.

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Erinah Nakimbugwe, a primary seven pupil at Kijabweemi Primary school says the delay in the release of funds has also increased teacher absenteeism. She says although pupils especially those in candidate classes would cover up for lost time through reading, they have been incapacitated further by the power disconnection.
Some head teachers say when they inquired from the Ministry of Finance, they were told government is shifting from the quarterly release of funds to another system.

Henry Busulwa, the Masaka Municipality Deputy Mayor says it is high time for parents to stop counting on government to pay their fees. He says parents must start meeting all tuition fees for their children.

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However, Jim Mugunga, the Finance Ministry Spokesperson says he is not aware of the delayed release of funds. Mugunga, who spoke to URN on phone, said he would verify the reports.


About the author

Edward Bindhe
Bindhe prides himself on being a part of the society he writes about. He believes there is no way a journalist can understand his society unless it considers him a part of it. This is why he is dedicated to investigating the challenges of the "little person."

Bindhe says, "My work reflects the Uganda Radio Network unique approach to news." Not many Ugandan journalists would consider or even notice the re-emergence of Water Hyacinth on a lake. Bindhe does.

Truant children will attract Bindhe's attention until he gets to the bottom of their truancy: poverty and the need to work to earn bread for their families. These are the kinds of stories Bindhe is often after.

Edward Bindhe is the Masaka URN bureau chief. Rakai, Lwengo, Lyantonde, Kalangala, Mpigi, Kalungu, Bukomansimbi and Sembabule districts fall under his docket. He has been a URN staff member since 2009.

A Mass Communication graduate from Uganda Christian University, Bindhe started practising journalism in 2008 as a reporter for Radio Buddu in Masaka district.