Members of Parliament in the Education and Sports Committee want the line ministry to develop a tuition policy for all schools to ease the pressure of school fees on parents.
Parliamentarians have also expressed great concern about the increase in school fees in private and government-subsidized schools, especially during an ongoing school year.
Their concerns arose after a presentation by Kole North County Deputy, the Hon. Samuel Opio, on the increase in school fees in Ugandan schools, presented on Wednesday, August 31, 2022 during the interaction with the committee.
Opium cited the 2019/2020 Uganda Bureau of Statistics (UBOS) household survey, where net enrollment in secondary schools was 27.3% compared to primary school enrollment of 80%.
He called on the government to offer scholarship schemes in each district to support secondary and vocational training for the best workers as a mechanism to strengthen enrollment.
Opio pointed out that the fees currently charged by government-subsidized schools are discriminatory and deny equal opportunities to all citizens to attain the highest educational levels possible.
He also noted that secondary education is in many cases more expensive than university or tertiary education.
“Section 3(b) of the Education Act empowers the Minister, from time to time, to make regulations for the purpose of regulating the fees payable by any school,” Opio said.
“My prayer to this committee is that the Ministry of Education will suspend any increase in school fees for the third period.
It is important for the committee to dig into the fee structure of various schools because some are very inflated,” he added.
Opio noted that school boards, which are the main determinants of school fees, defied the directives of the Ministry of Education as of January 11, 2022 and have continued to increase fees unabated.
He noted that as much as rising food costs are apparent, any increase in school fees must be balanced against the constitutional obligation that all citizens attain the highest level of education possible.
AUDIO: Br. Samuel Opio “Ministry or district education officials should take action including, but not limited to, suspending the board of governors of schools that decided against the ministry directive halting further increase in school fees,” Opio prayed to the Committee.
Honorable Opio also called on the ministry to expedite the enactment of legal regulations to regulate the fees to be paid by various schools, preferably before the start of the next school year in 2023.
He said it would be prudent for a fee structure for schools to be standardized with categories additional approved by the Minister of Education and Sports.
He added that the government should offer nursery plans in each district to support the secondary and vocational training of the best as a mechanism to strengthen enrollment.
Honorable Nathan Itungo (Indep., Kashari South County) noted that many schools include many elements in the school fee structure that are not related to tuition, adding that discussions with the education minister can be helpful in verifying this.
The Honorable Geoffrey Ekanya (FDC, Tororo North County) said it would be unfair to reduce private school fees because they suffered during the COVID-19 period, but advised that the quality of public schools must be improved.
Jonam County Deputy Hon. Emmanuel Ongiertho noted that PTAs in schools are involved in driving many of the board decisions and charged parents make decisions in favor of other parents.
AUDIO: Major Jennifer Alanyo Major Jennifer Alanyo (UPDF Representative) called for an amendment to the way school boards are appointed and managed, and also called for school fee increases to be spread across of the school year instead of quarterly.
Hon. Agnes Acibu (NRM, Nebbi District) and the Hon. Jane Awich (NRM, Kaberamaido District) called on the government to develop a proper strategy to regulate secondary school enrollment structures in each region.
Chairman of the committee, Bro. John Twesigye (NRM, Bunyaruguru County), said members will make field visits to schools and conduct a thorough investigation into the matter of the fee increase.
AUDIO: Br. John Twesigye