Uganda: parents protest fees as gov’t schools turns into boarding house
Parents with school children in government-aided schools in Katakwi District have protested the new fees structure after head teachers turned the institutions into boarding facilities to contain the spread of Covid-19.
Previously, all schools under the Universal Primary Education (UPE) programme were operating as day institutions.Mr James Ikabat, a parent with six children at Apuuton Primary School, said he cannot afford to pay fees for all of them in boarding section.
“Since learning for Primary Four, Five and Six pupils resumed, I can’t afford Shs200,000 per child for a term as demanded by the school management,” he said on Wednesday. Ms Jennifer Akello, another parent, expressed similar reservations.
“We don’t intend to have pupils in UPE schools, but it is because we can’t afford private schools. Some children are still home because of the current fees in these UPE schools, ” Ms Akello said.
However, Mr Moses Ekunyu, the head teacher of Apuuton Primary School, told Daily Monitor that when the President lifted the lockdown for Primary Seven pupils, the Education ministry instructed schools to operate as boarding.Move to Canada as a skilled worker.
He added that when Primary Four, Five and Six also reported, they were still told to operate as boarding.
Mr Ekunyu said a meeting with the Parents’ Teachers Association, the school management committee and parents agreed that the pupils be accommodated in schools.
He said a fees structure of Shs200,000 was agreed upon to buy food for the pupils as per the recommendation from the Ministry of Education.Ms Jacinta Okiror Ikima, the head teacher of Township Primary school, said government should have communicated to the parents as well to avoid any misunderstandings.
“Perhaps if the circulars from the Ministry of Education had been circulated to all parents, we would be safe from these attacks, they think we are the people behind the decision,” she added. Ms Janet Abele, the head teacher of Okokorio Primary School, said they opted to operate both day and boarding sections.
She said they charge Shs150,000 for the bording pupils.”Even amid this situation, we don’t have enough furniture for the bording section,” Ms Abele said.
What district leaders sayMr Stephen Ekoom, the resident district commissioner, said he has communicated to the ministries of Education and Health over the matter.
Mr Ekoom added that they will hold meetings with parents starting next week.Mr Walter Elakas, the district chairperson, said the matter is being reviewed and an amicable solution will be found soon.Ms Angella Emudong, the district education officer, said she is not aware of the schools charging fees.
Mr Seraphine Alia, the chief administrative officer, said he needed to be briefed by the RDC and district chairperson first.
“They are the ones who convened a meeting on the matter,” Mr Emudong said.Govt warningRecently, Mr Ismail Mulindwa, the Ministry of Education director of basic education, warned schools defying government guidelines on reopening, saying those who will be implicated in their impromptu inspections risk losing licences.
“We are going to put those schools in order. Any school we find open to classes which we have not yet allowed will be tasked to explain why it defied the ministry regulations,” Mr Mulindwa said