It disturbs to hear time and again the President threatening Head teachers under UPE and USE over fees levies. This reflects how disorganized the NRM leadership can be. It is not news that in some instances even the peanuts of UPE funds supposed to be sent to schools are not received as expected. The parents who are paying this money are well aware of the needs in these schools. Secondly, the President should know that Government as of now cannot afford to fund education freely as he wants many to believe. The parents have to make a contribution and what he ought to know is that even the contribution the parents make as of now does not help very much the limping state in which most of the UPE and USE schools are in.
Museveni orders on UPE, USE fees Sunday, 4th July, 2010
By Vision Reporter
PRESIDENT Yoweri Museveni has directed chief administrative officers (CAOs) to supervise the universal primary and secondary education programmes and ensure that no illegal fees are levied on pupils and students in government schools.
He warned that CAOs, as heads of public servants within their respective districts, must stop the illegal practice or face the law if the directive is not implemented.
The President was yesterday addressing a rally at Karugutu Secondary School in Karugutu sub-county in the newly-created Ntoroko district.
He is in the western Rwenzori sub-region to promote and popularise the Prosperity-for All-programme.
The programme, implemented under National Agricultural Advisory Services (NAADS), is aimed at fighting household poverty through modern agricultural production and commercialisation to improve people’s incomes.
The President said the Government spends sh700b every year on UPE and USE programmes, but if schools continue to collect fees from parents, they render the programme meaningless.
“If you teachers think the programmes are not necessary and all parents in Uganda can afford fees, then write to the Government to stop the programme and use the USE and UPE funds on other government programmes,” he said.
Museveni promised to give a hotline to the public to report those involved in the illegal practice.
The Government initiated UPE to increase access to quality primary education for all children.
It committed itself to pay fees, provide textbooks and other instructional materials for pupils and teachers.
The introduction of UPE in 1997 led to a 132% increase in gross enrollment from 3.1 million to 7.2 million in 2006.
Meanwhile, the President has instructed his office to provide health manuals to secondary school students on how to protect themselves from contracting HIV.
He cautioned the youth against irresponsible behaviour, adding that their health is irreplaceable if misshandled.
On the Prosperity-for-All programme, Museveni urged the public to focus on improving household income, saying it is more important than public goods such as roads, power and piped water.
He said while the Government has provided basic infrastructure across the country, the facilities are not utilised by most Ugandans because they are poor and cannot pay for them.
He appealed to Ugandans to work hard and fight poverty by engaging in modern agriculture and to diversify and engage in various agricultural activities.
He also urged them to exploit the NAADS programme to gain skills to boost agricultural production and commercialisation.
Earlier, the President visited David Masereka, a model farmer in Karugutu, who grows fruits such as mangoes, pineapples and oranges.
He asked the NAADS officials to support him to engage in projects such as dairy farming and poultry.
Museveni said the Government had so far sent sh2b to Bundibugyo district from which Ntoroko district was curved for NAADS, adding that more money would be sent every year to support more farmers.
He commended the residents of Ntoroko and the entire Rwenzori region for their support to the NRM.
He added that the Government had delivered on its promises, including bringing peace and stability to the region, extending electricity from Fort Portal to Bundibugyo, introducing the NAADS programme and had tarmacked the road from Fort Portal to Bundibugyo, which he commissioned.
Uganda: UPE Schools Still Charging Illegal Fees
23 February 2010
Kampala — MANY primary schools implementing the UPE programme continue to charge unauthorised fees for textbooks or other real and imaginary services.
According to a study by Transparency International, a quarter of parents interviewed confirmed paying such extra fees, while 18% reported that bribes had been demanded from them in the past year.
The report released yesterday also says achieving education-for-all in Uganda is threatened by high drop-out rates and poor quality, despite the Government's commitment.
Education takes up the largest share of the national budget and Uganda has made significant progress in expanding access to primary education, the report says. The number of pupils rose from 2.1 million in 1997 to 7.7 million in 2005.
"However, increased funding of primary education has not always led to better outcomes due to system leakages, wastage and misuse of resources."
It points out that of the 2.1 million who enrolled in 1997, less than a quarter were still in school in 2003.
Petty corruption permeates the day-to-day transactions at the classroom, school and district level, the report notes. Besides illegal charges and bribery, it cites erratic release of grants to schools, poor record keeping and weak monitoring and accountability structures.
The report found a direct correlation between low teacher salaries and incidences of bribery and corruption. “Teachers resort to securing their survival by missing classes to work in their gardens, soliciting unpaid labour from pupils and doing other things that point to corrupt tendencies."
It also established that extortion occurred more in schools without management committees and parents-teachers associations.
Parents paid illegal fees in 44% of schools where there was a management committee as opposed to 72% where there was none.
The survey, conducted between 2007 and 2008 in 17 districts in the four regions of Uganda, found that teacher absenteeism was a big cause of concern for parents.
"Teacher absenteeism is an endemic challenge to the realisation of quality universal primary education in Uganda. Such problems have not yet been sufficiently addressed by the Government."
It also notes that schools' inspection is weak. "Some schools are never inspected, not even once in the entire school year. School inspectors attribute this to increased workload and insufficient resources."
It further found that financial record keeping in most schools was poor and that many head teachers lacked accounting skills.
In its recommendations, it calls for the recruitment of more teachers, better pay and more training.
It also calls for the construction of more classrooms, improving school inspection, and streamlining coordination among government departments to ensure timely release of funds to schools.
On accountability, it recommends that ethical behaviour and anti-corruption measures be incorporated in the school curriculum. It also calls for sensitising parents and communities to get involved in school budgeting and demand transparency in the use of the resources.