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Seed secondary schools illegally operating boarding sections: Education ministry

Ministry of Education spokesperson Dr Denis Mugimba.

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Several seed secondary schools across the country are operating boarding sections without permission from the ministry of education and sports, Uganda Radio Network has learnt.

For years, the government has been constructing seed schools as one of the means of extending secondary education across the country with the recent effort seeing the government establishing more than 117 such schools across the country.

Although these schools are designed to be day schools, many headteachers and school management committees have opened up boarding among other reasons to have more time with the learners. One such school is Kinyogoga seed school found in Kinyogoga sub-county, Nakaseke district.

Swaibu Musisi Nkemba, the school headteacher says that many learners are coming from far given the nature of their sub county and therefore they cannot bare moving on foot daily thus the establishment of a boarding section.

Nkemba says that parents have since contributed to the construction of dormitories to accommodate learners.

Unfortunately, the school which established dormitories lacks staff quarters for the teachers with several of them trekking journeys to come and teach. Besides Kinyogoga, there are reports that many others even the newly constructed are rushing to establish boarding sections without permission.

Dr Denis Mugimba, the Ministry of Education spokesperson confirms that the government has received complaints of similar nature. Dr Mugimba says that schools whose names are withheld have changed the purpose of their building to set up dormitories to accommodate learners. For instance, he points out that some schools are changing the multipurpose hall and laboratories into dormitories.

Stella Nambozo, the second chairperson for the association of secondary school headteachers in Uganda-ASSHU, says many headteachers are opening up boarding sections for selfish reasons of getting money given the fact that under this arrangement, parents pay extra costs which are also illegal.

She also adds that others open boarding sections to put up the unnecessary competition with private schools that attract learners beyond their catchment area.

Nambozo notes that some have genuine reasons. Among other reasons, she points out that some schools are located in areas where the movement of some learners – more so those from far areas-is insecure, and the only way of having them in school is erecting boarding sections.

Having looked at the justification, she warns fellow headteachers to desist from the practise given the fact that if something bad happens to students while in an illegal boarding section, they would be personally be held accountable.

According to the government policy, all seed schools must be day apart from those built-in hard-to-reach areas like Karamoja, Sebei, and the island of Kalangala. Regardless of the reason, Mugimba says schools in other regions that want boarding facilities must be having express permission from the president.

He adds that if this permission is not given, the school can formally write to the permanent secretary Ministry of Education and Sports justifying why they want a boarding section on their school.

In absence of the said permission, Mugimba warns the headteacher or even school management committees to desist from setting up illegal boarding sections saying that the classrooms and other facilities in seeds schools were not designed to be dormitories and changing their purpose creates a gap in service.

The spokesperson further wonders how learners will carry out practical lessons in instances where a laboratory is converted into a dormitory. It should also be noted that there is a section of schools that were allowed to have boarding sections from day one with their structural designs including supporting facilities.

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