No report yet as UPE probe uses Shs7 billion
By RICHARD WANAMBWA
Posted Friday, January 6 2012 at 00:00
The commission set up to investigate alleged mismanagement of universal primary and secondary education has spent at least Shs7 billion and is yet to make public its findings, 25 months after its inception.
President Museveni constituted the five-member commission in November 2009 headed by Justice Ezekiel Muhanguzi and gave it a six-month deadline to produce a report. The tenure was, however, twice extended on request of the commission with the last extension having expired in June 2011.
The other members of the commission are Dr Ruth Nassali, the deputy chairperson, Mr Lawrence Mukiibi, Mr Patrick Batumya and Ms Keturah Katunguuka. A source within the Ministry of Education, who sought anonymity because he is not authorised to speak to the media, yesterday said the inquiry has so far spent Shs7b.
“Note that commissioners and the secretary earn a monthly pay (honoraria) of Shs6.5 million. For the public officers on the commission, this is on top of their regular salaries,” said the source.
This newspaper has learnt that the commissioners also earn sitting allowances paid from the education vote from Bank of Uganda. Since inception, the committee chairperson has reportedly earned Shs150m in allowances and honoraria while his deputy has earned Shs146m and the committee secretary has earned Shs132m.
The government also bought each commissioner a new Pajero at Shs200m and an administrator received a pick-up truck at Shs100m to ease their transport. The State Minister for Primary Education, Mr Kamanda Bataringaya, yesterday admitted that the commission had consumed said money, adding that the ministry is “also concerned about the long time the inquiry has taken”.
He said the ministry could not do much since the commission was instituted by the head of state, whom it reports to. “Talk to the secretary of the inquiry because the commission is independent and they can answer for themselves,” Dr Bataringaya said.
However, Ms Katunguuka refused to divulge details instead inviting this paper for an interview next week. “That is not true. But who gave you that information about our allowances? Call me next week and get time to look for me. I have just given our position to New Vision,” Ms Katunguuka said, referring to the state-owned daily.
Mr Museveni instituted the probe after receiving reports that government was losing billions of shillings to corrupt officials since the Universal Primary Education programme started in 1997.
In his New Year message this week, the President noted that the education sector is still marred by ghost schools, teachers and pupils/students. He attributed the challenges to weak inspection, supervision and monitoring.
Justice Muhanguzi recently told Daily Monitor that the commission still has more work to do, including public hearings which have not started. He, however, did not specify when they are expected to commence.