Lawmakers want more than Shs15b to renovate all traditional schools in Uganda

Parliament has tasked its Committee on Budget to find more money to allocate to the Education and Sports sector in order to give a facelift to all traditional schools in the country.

Drawing near the end of the 2022/23 financial year, Parliament is entering the critical stage of appropriation whereby the national budget for financial year 2023/24 is being processed.

However, with the budget expected to hit Shs50 trillion up from the Shs48 trillion of the ending year, Parliament may be forced to alter the appropriation figures upwards to cater for critical priorities that have not been funded.

The education sector is facing an 80 percent budget cut which has affected most of its supposed outputs. One of those is the construction of new seed secondary schools in every Sub- County and ensuring that each Parish has a primary school.

Parliament of Uganda

As the government looks to find money for the fulfilment of that policy on seed schools, there is also a need to rehabilitate traditional schools. These are schools that have been existing for several decades. Most of these schools both primary and secondary, were established by the missionaries and the colonial government.

Parliament has in the past week adopted the report of the Committee on Education and Sports recommending the provision of Shs15b each financial year to renovate the traditional schools. The details of the traditional schools to be renovated are still scanty.

In their report presented by the Chairperson of the Committee, John Twesigye Ntamuhiira, the committee noted that a number of traditional schools in different parts of the country are grappling with both dilapidated and inadequate infrastructure.

The committee added that the schools also have a high number of students and urgently need government support in order to meet the basic minimum standards of quality education.

“The Committee observes that there are a number of traditional schools in different parts of the Country that are grappling with both dilapidates and inadequate infrastructure due to increased number of students and urgently need government support in order to meet the basic minimum standards of quality education. Most of these schools are religious founded schools” the report reads in part.

Chua West legislator, Okin P.P. Ojara made the case for the traditional schools during the debate on the Ministerial Policy Statement for the Ministry of Education and Sports. He said that the 10th Parliament had discussed the need for the renovation and rehabilitation of the traditional schools but there was no action from the government.

“When you move around the countryside, most of these traditional schools are in dire need of rehabilitation. To allocate just 15b, I think it is inadequate. We started discussing this thing of rehabilitation in the 10th Parliament and nothing has happened. How many phases of rehabilitation do we have? Can we add more money?” asked Ojara

Buhweju County MP Francis Mwijukye reminded the government of the ruling Party National Resistance Movement (NRM) manifesto slogans for the last two election cycles, adding that such may not be realized without quality education.

“There are many budget cuts in the ministry of education. We were told of securing our future. How is this future going to be secured? How are we going to progress steadily when there is no money in the ministry of education? Recently, the ministry of education recruited 4000 teachers but there is no money” said Mwijukye.

Other issues

The Ministry of Education will now have to wait on the Budget Committee of Parliament to find ways of recommending re-allocation of money to the sector to deal with several challenges. The 80 percent budget cuts are likely to negatively impact the student loan scheme, wages for teaching staff in public universities, and government sponsorship of university students.

Of the Shs27b needed for the Ministry of Education to pay for tuition of students on the loan scheme, the Ministry of Finance has only provided for Shs5.5b. This means the Higher Education Students Financing Board (HESFB) will be plundered into arrears with different universities.

With cuts also made on wage and development funds for the Ministry, new public universities are likely to suffer teaching staff shortages since they cannot recruit while others are running short of structures.  Other budgetary challenges in public universities are; unfunded Shs30b budget for research at Makerere University; money for student allowances; less funding for Government sponsored students; unremitted NSSF funds for university staff and delayed release of supplementary budgets for some universities.

Different examination boards that are supposed to assess learners mid this year are also likely to be left in limbo over budget cuts. Uganda Nurses Medical Examination Board (UNMED) has only received Shs4.8B out of the approved Shs18.9b. Next year, only Shs2.47b out of the planned Shs20.47b has been provided for by the Ministry of Finance.

“On the student loan scheme, instead of 27b only 5b has been provided. This means that those who are already in university might be discontinued and then new ones may not be taken.” Added Mwijukye.

Other legislators after listening to the Committee report expressed fear for the future of education in Uganda if the key sector priorities can remain unfunded.

Mbale City Woman Representative, Connie Nakayenze Galiwango said education is a key aspect of development adding that there is need to support the sector with a better budget.

“For education to be affordable, we need to talk about performance, teacher’s salary enhancement and regular inspection of schools. If we don’t educate our children, they will become thugs”, she said.

Deputy Speaker Thomas Tayebwa suggested that also the universities be made easily accessible for the children of the poor. He said that many bright students in the rural areas miss out on admission to government sponsorship due to failure to secure the Public Universities Joint Admission Board (PUJAB) forms. Most students paid Shs50000 for the PUJAB forms which they filled shortly after completing their Uganda Advanced Certificate in Education (UACE) exams in December.

“The PUJAB forms are very expensive. I have come to discover that many children in poor schools cannot manage to fill these forms because they are expensive. We got in my constituency, a student who is partially blind but got 20 points but haven’t filled PUJAB and another lady got 19 points and did not have PUJAB. The burden is on me as a MP to educate those people. I am going to ensure that they become lawyers so that they transform the community” Tayebwa said.

The Minister of State for Education (Primary) Joyce Kaducu Moriku appreciated the allocation to the sector and called on the MPs to continue advocating for more funds because there is a lot that needs to be done.

“When we don’t prioritize quality education, we shall not meet the international standards and our young people will not be competitive in the job market. So really, funding is at the centre of all interventions,” she said

Meanwhile, the State Minister for Finance (General Duties), Henry Musasizi could not explain the 80 percent budget cut for the Ministry of Education but promised that his Ministry will consider most of the recommendations.

“The 80 percent cut is the principle which we adopted. However, further analysis has shown that some interventions are doing critical issues where subversion may not apply like exams and many others. Right now, our technical team, I have advised them to look at this. These are the issues that the corrigenda will address” The Minister added.

The report will now be processed by the Budget Committee where allocation of more funds to the education sector is expected next month before the House passes the budget by May 30.

2 thoughts on “Lawmakers want more than Shs15b to renovate all traditional schools in Uganda

  1. Holy cow! I’m in awe of the author’s writing skills and ability to convey complicated concepts in a straightforward and clear manner. This article is a true gem that earns all the praise it can get. Thank you so much, author, for sharing your wisdom and giving us with such a valuable treasure. I’m truly thankful!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *