By Stephen Kafeero
The preliminary report on the Tracking and Utilization of UPE funds shows that there is gross abuse in the use of UPE funds in Northern Uganda and the Karamoja region.
The major aim of the study was to develop a monitoring tool and train school management committees, community based organizations, district councilors and civil servants to be able to create a reduction of 15% of resource leakages in the targeted districts.
It is also aimed at promoting transparent, accountable, effective and efficient use of public funds to improve the education in Uganda.
The study was conducted in 11 districts in Northern Uganda which included Apach, Oyam, Kitugum, Amuru and Lira among others and the results were validated with findings in Lira, Gulu and Kampala.
Transparency International also trained Voluntary Accountability Committees (VACs) who then traversed the districts in the compilation of the information. 210 schools were tracked.
The role of the VACS was to sensitize communities on public expenditure and tracking roles as stipulated in the constitution, monitor UPE/SFG utilization, compile weekly and monthly reports and hold meetings with the sub county and district leadership .
Among the problems that the VACs identified was the absenteeism practiced by teachers, teachers coming to schools and not teaching, low pay for which the teachers cannot afford to meet their needs.
They also found head teachers to be culprits of absenteeism in the disguise of visiting the DEO’S office, lack of updates on the students register, reluctance of PTA’S and SMC’S in the supervision of critical stages of construction works and monitoring of UPE funds
According to the report all the schools visited lacked acknowledgement receipts of the UPE releases from the district account and were not properly managing UPE expenditures by vote percentage. The primary schools were reluctant to maintain cashbooks to record receipts and payments monthly.
There was also lack of knowledge in finance and accounting among the head teachers in the primary schools that the researchers visited.
On the display of the UPE releases, only amounts credited and withdrawn from the school accounts were displayed but the summary expenditures were not displayed yet the parents never hold the head teachers accountable
Many of the schools were understaffed in both the lower and upper primary according to the report. Land disputes arising from neighboring communities and other schools impeded the developments at the schools.
The report recommends vigorous monitoring and supervision of construction works under SFG and other donor grants. It also recommends that the schools should have gardens where they can plant things like cassava which will help to solve the problem of food.
It recommended monitoring and supervising expenditures and accountabilities of UPE funds in primary schools by sub county chiefs.
Reacting to the report the Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) of APAC said the school management committees have to be supported in order to operate as expected because they don’t have any funding.
The report also indicated that the lack of midday meals was partly contributing to the drop out of school children as they prefer to stay at home or take merchandise to markets where they get something to eat.
On the operation of the school management committees the CAO of APAC says that they need to be supported in order to perform as expected because they don’t have any funding. “A policy should be initiated to create a vote for them because they know what to do but they are constrained by funding,” he said.
The teachers feel that they are rejected and they need to be motivated to appreciate what they are doing. There is need to bring confidence in the teachers to accept the job
Francis Ekadu the programs coordinator of Transparency International Uganda called upon government to look in to the issues that the report raises such as improving on the morale of the teachers.
Farouk Kayondo from the public relations department of the Inspectorate of Government (IGG) called upon the stakeholders from the districts to report corruption cases to the inspectorate in order for the culprits to be reprimanded.