May 29, 2013

Ugandan Primary Education Schools in Financial Crisis

African Education News - Ugandan Primary Education Schools in Financial Crisis

Credit to John Semakula at the New Vision (Uganda)

A classroom at Kyamatende Primary School, located in Namasagali.
The new term begins began on Monday, but Stanley Shambusha, the head teacher of Kanyangusi Primary School in Kanungu district, is in a dilemma.

Shambusha said that last term ended by God’s grace because the school’s account was in ‘red’.

“I secured loans to buy chalk and other requirements. I cannot go back this time,” Shambusha said.

He hoped that the money for the fourth quarter would be released at the beginning of the second term, but this was still a dream.

“I could ask parents to contribute money to kickstart the term, but that is illegal. Besides, our parents are poor,” he added.

There are 324 pupils at Kanyangusi who receive a capitation grant of sh650,000 ($250 USD) from the Government, every quarter. That is about sh2,000 ($0.77 USD) per pupil.

But, according to the education ministry, each pupil receives sh7,000 ($2.69 USD) per term.

Shambusha said the money is very little and the situation is made worse by the delays.

Mukonyezi to forego some needs

Mary Mukonyezi, the head teacher of Katasenywa Primary School in Masindi district, said next term, she would run the school with funds left over from last term.

“We have been told schools will not receive funds for the last quarter. We have to do whatever it takes to survive. The school will forego certain needs, such as desk repairs, until we get funds,” Mukonyezi said.

Hoima district education officer Godfrey Serwanja said the district education department only received the inspection grant for the quarter.

“We have been asked to send details of the last quarter to the finance ministry and we hope to get feedback soon,” Serwanja added.

There are 412 students at Katasenywa Primary School, whom Mukonyezi will have to take care of with or without Government funds.

She said the funds allocated to pupils per term had reduced over time, to less than sh3,000 ($1.15 USD).

“I will need a loan to run the school if the Government does not release the funds,” she said.

Ministry speaks out

The commissioner in charge of budget and evaluation in the finance ministry, Kenneth Mugambe, said schools received UPE (Universal Primary Education) funds in the previous quarter.

“They get UPE funds on a termly basis and not quarterly,” Mugambe said.

Gloomy picture

Whereas a pupil in a private school pays a minimum of sh100,000 ($38.46 USD) per term, his counterpart in UPE (Universal Primary Education) is facilitated on sh7,000 ($2.69 USD).

There are about nine million pupils under the UPE programme, whose second term studies may be jeopardised by the delayed dispatch of the funds.

A 2012 report by a commission of inquiry into the mismanagement of UPE funds set up in 2005 recommended an increase in funds for pupils under the programme, from sh8,000 ($3.08 USD) to sh15,000 ($5.77 USD) to cater for the high inflation rate.

It also recommended that funds be sent directly to the school accounts to avoid delays.

Education ministry spokesperson Patrick Muinda said a proposal had been tabled before Cabinet to increase the capitation grant per pupil.

“The ministry is waiting for a response from the Cabinet. If the proposal is endorsed, the funds will be increased to sh15,000 ($5.77 USD) as the commission recommended,” Muinda said.

There are concerns, however, that the Government may not increase the grant due to the recent cut in donor aid to the country.

But the Minister of Education, Jessica Alupo, said the Cabinet constituted a special committee of members from different ministries to study the recommendations.

“The committee has submitted its findings and Cabinet will discuss them. If it endorses them, the capitation funds will be increased,” Alupo said.
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Link to original article:  UPE Schools in Financial Crisis - New Vision

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