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Parliament starts probe into exorbitant fees in Gov’t schools

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | The Education and Sports committee of Parliament has started hearing a petition challenging the exorbitant fees charged in government schools.

In February 2017, the Initiative for Social and Economic Rights (ISER), a Civil Society Organisation – CSO petitioned Speaker of Parliament Rebecca Kadaga protesting the high fees in schools.

Appearing before the Education Committee on Thursday, ISER officials led by the Executive Director Salima Namusobya appealed to MPs to expedite the inquiry before next year when schools open for the first term.

The CSO presented to the committee the general fees structure for various government aided schools which charge 800,000 to 1.8 million shillings.

The officials availed MPs a photocopy of the third term fees circular from St. Henry’s College Kitovu for Senior Two students totaling to1 million shillings. The circular highlights a breakdown of fees the pupils are supposed to pay for. They include maintenance 391,600, feeding at 300,000, Centenary Project Fund 100,000, pastoral car 35,000, school fees insurance 35,000, staff project 40,000 and among others.

They also presented a 2017 Primary Two admission circular from Budo Junior School indicating payments totaling to 1.7 million shillings. The payments include development and maintenance of 400,000 shillings, school fees of 998,500 Shillings, school uniform at 66,000 Shillings among others.

Namusobya noted that due to high tuition fees, government schools are now a preserve of a few who she said are mainly children from wealthy families.

Namusobya cited several grounds including Article 30 of the Constitution which provides a right to education and other government measures to extend education to the citizens.

Koboko Woman MP, Margaret Baba Diri said that it is in the interest of government to make education as cheaper as possible.

“It’s true that some schools charge very high but there are parents who have accepted to pay higher and it’s a choice if you can afford to take your child to an expensive school take them there but if you can’t don’t go there,” said Baba Diri.

She said that parliament may not succeed in regulating the school fees structure since parents are in agreement with the set fees.

Kanyum County MP Ismail Orot defended the schools saying that sometimes it becomes expensive to maintain operations of the schools which are required to pay utility bills.

Geoffrey Macho, the Busia Municipality MP said that there seems to be connivance between some officials from the Education Ministry and some head teachers from big prominent schools.

Education Committee acting Chairperson Sheila Mwine said that they will invite school head teachers and officials from the Education Ministry and other stakeholders before writing a report to Parliament.

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