Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Universal Primary and Secondary Education Schools have asked the government not to abolish the PTA fees paid by learners.
On Monday, the Minister in charge of ICT and National Guidance, Dr. Chris Baryomunsi, said that the Cabinet had resolved that all Universal Primary (UPE) and Secondary Education Schools (USE) stop charging learners any fees as schools reopen in January next year.
According to Baryomunsi, Cabinet noted that public schools have been charging learners various charges even though it is supposed to be free for all.
Most schools argue that the limited funding from the government has them introduce different charges like development fees, PTA fees, lunch fees among others.
However, some headteachers note that the decision was rushed without carrying out consultations.
David Ssengendo, the headteacher of Buganda Road Primary School, says that although it is a good step taken by the government especially at a time when parents are struggling to earn due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the government only considered the plight of the parents and not the schools.
He says that public schools receive inadequate funds from the government, therefore the other fees help to sustain the operations of the schools, given the rising cost of living.
Another headteacher who preferred anonymity says that the fees should not have been abolished at a time when the government is emphasizing standard operating procedures in schools.
The headteacher says that the amount provided by the government for the utilities per term is inadequate to keep the school running while effectively observing the SOPs like hand washing and improving sanitation.
Martin Obore, the headteacher of Soroti Secondary School who is also the National Chairperson of the Association of Secondary School Headteachers in Uganda (ASSHU), says the government should move slowly on the initiative because it will compromise the quality of education due to the inadequate funds.
Obore explains that although some schools mismanaged the PTA fees, it has facilitated hiring more teachers, paying support staff.
Filbert Baguma, the General Secretary of Uganda National Teachers Union (UNATU) says that the 10,400 shillings paid per child each term for the utilities is inadequate.
The charges for both public primary and secondary schools vary depending on the agreement between the school and parents. In Kampala, the charges for primary schools range between 80,000 to 100,000 Shillings, and for secondary it does not exceed 200,000 Shillings.
The capitation grant provided by the government in UPE schools is 14,000 Shillings per learner annually and for the USE, the government provides 40,000 Shillings for O’level students per term, and 80,000 Shillings for the A’ level students.
Dr. Denis Mugimba, the Ministry of Education Spokesperson says that the ministry with support from the Norwegian Government has commissioned a study that will help the government to understand how schools have been utilizing the PTA fees.