It would be a miracle in the NRM corruption ridden country of Uganda malnourishment not to be real. People are busy stealing and scheming on how to get more resources to buy land and accumulate wealth. Surely such beasts can least be concerned about the plight of our children. However, the future of the country is whether we can get sense to denounce this robbery and get things normal. Some of the thieves are so arrogant as if the are the alpha and omega of Uganda. We surely have to be determined to stop them.
William Kituuka Kiwanuka
TWO MILLION UGANDA CHILDREN MALNOURISHED
The Uganda government was last evening left searching for alternative sources of funding following the withdrawal of support to the education sector by one of its key donors.
The Dutch government announced it was withdrawing funding to a tune of nearly Shs50b (14 million Euro), citing concerns over persistent corruption, poor public financial management and poor standards.
Dutch Ambassador to Uganda Jeroen Verheul said it was “time to ask ourselves some uncomfortable questions,” on the issue of what quality learners were getting adding that the “seriousness of this problem cannot be overstated.”
He was speaking on behalf of other development partners at the start of the annual Education Sector review in Kampala yesterday. He described the quality of basic education (literacy and numeracy skills), the major concerns under UPE as “disappointing.”
The Dutch withdrawal follows that of the Irish government which earlier withdrew from budget support to concentrate on project support.
The reaction of other donors in the European Union was not immediately clear but Communications Officer at the EU delegation in Kampala Simon Kasyate said the individual member countries were taking action on their own. “This marks the exit of Netherlands as a supporter of basic education. The results we have been achieving since the introduction of UPE have been disappointing and we decided to shift our focus to productive areas like agriculture,” Ambassador Verheul said.
According to Amb.Verheul, they have been spending 14 million Euros (about Shs49 billion) annually since the start of UPE in 1997 to support basic education. “About a year and a half ago, we warned that there were issues with regard to public financial management, corruption, fiscal policy in terms of the choices that we make and we warned that that might have an impact on us being able to provide budget support. So this is not a surprise for the authority,” he explained.
Education Minister Jessica Alupo admitted that government had been alerted to the impending aid cuts and had increased the Education sector budget to Shs1.3trillion in response.
Speaking in some of the most candid language a diplomat has used on the thorny issues of corruption and poor standards, Ambassador Verheul said, “literacy is the basis for the acquisition of all but the basic life skills. Right now more than 40 per cent of the ever growing number at P3 level is illiterate.
They—and their fellows who dropped out of school—stand very little chance of ever making it to any form of secondary education.” He said targets set between them as donors and government had not been met.
Ambassador Verheul was equally livid about the lip service fight against corruption announcing a major drawback of his government’s supports to Justice Law and Order Sector from the current annual Euro18m to only Euro 6million.
“There have been issues in regard to procurement of text books where there are allegations of corruption,” he said. He added that they will continue to support a number of project activities in primary education with an estimated 3 to 4 million euros this year.
She admitted that there have been instances of “shoddy work in schools, suppliers of instructional materials not following procurement procedures, loss of funds and students losing on training because of our mistakes as technical people in the ministry.” But she hoped with the launch of the ministry’s client charter, it will empower the public to demand what is not being implemented in future.