KAMPALA – Parliament has directed the Minister of Education and Sports, Janet Museveni to quantify the number of students who would be given free sanitary pads and the cost of both ordinary and re-usable ones as this will give them guidance on how to help president fulfill his pledge.
The directive was issued by Speaker Rebecca Kadaga following a heated debate on a statement by Esther Mbayo, Minister in Charge of the Presidency on the failure by President Yoweri Museveni to fulfill his campaign pledge of providing sanitary pads to all girls in schools across the country.
In her statement, the Minister justified the failure by President Museveni to fulfill his pledge on inadequate resources pointing out that the budget to the education sector has been dwindling for the last three years, but the Education sector is, however, working with a number of partners through the National Coalition on menstrual hygiene management to pilot out interventions for purposes of learning from the pilots and future adoption.
The Minister also blamed parents for not offering help to their daughters arguing that despite the fact that the Education Act, 2008 empowers all parents to provide the basic
requirements to their children as they come to school, many parents have not taken menstrual hygiene products as a basic requirement for their daughters.
In her proposals, the Minister said that Parliament through the Budget Committee, using its powers to appropriate, allocate a specific recurrent budget to the education sector for provision of sanitary pads for adolescent girls in schools.
The Minister also called on Parliament to support the Education sector in its efforts to advocate for tax exemption on sanitary products to reduce on the cost and make them affordable to the most marginalized girls and women.
She also said that the Ministry of Education and Sports and or Parliament should benchmark in other countries that have made progress in providing sanitary towels to girls in school and this would help in identifying strategies that are cost effective and adaptable to our setting
The MPs bashed the Minister for failing to come up with proposed mechanism the president has had in fulfilling his pledge but rather ran to parliament with recommendations asking it to appropriate and allocate a specific recurrent budget to the education sector for provision of the pads to adolescent girls in schools.
This was not welcomed by a number of MPs who wondered the kind of bench marking government has to do on this promise that has been delayed for years, with other lawmakers crucifying President Museveni for failing to fulfill his promise and decide to run to parliament just a year into the forth coming elections.
Kasambya County MP, Gaffa Mbwatekamwa said, “Minister what are you going to benchmark, are you going to benchmark about the size, fashion, colour or you want to benchmark and bring here a factory.”
After failed attempts by minister Mbayo on the mechanisms in place, the speaker directed the clerk of parliament to write to the ministry of Education to quantify the number of students to receive the pads and the costs.