KAMPALA – The Ministry of Education and Sports requires an additional Shs28.38 billion to enhance its contingency budget to address long-term effects of disasters on institutions of learning.
Parliament’s Education and Sports Committee Chairperson, John Twesigye, said the Ministry has maintained a budgetary allocation of shs12.62 billion to cater for emergency construction of primary schools and procurement of lightening arrestors for areas prone to lightning strikes.
Twesigye was meeting Members of Parliament on the Budget Committee to present a report of the education sector on the National Budget Framework Paper.
The Paper encompasses recommendations for the Education, Sports and Skills Development Sub-Programme under NDP III for financial years 2022/2023 – 2026/2027.
The Ministry of Education and Sports has a budget allocation of Shs3.6 trillion for financial year 2022/2023, which will require the approval of Parliament.
In his presentation to the Budget Committee, Twesigye said several schools in the countryside have been affected by disasters with some needing relocation or permanent structures.
“This necessitates an increase in the Education Ministry’s contingency budget to at least Shs41 billion. This increase will ably address the issue of schools emergency response in regards to natural disasters,” said Twesigye.
Ignatius Wamakuyu, the Deputy Chairperson of the Budget Committee, expressed concern about the duplication of roles for disaster management, where the Office of the Prime Minister is the lead agency.
“How are you working with the Prime Minister’s Office to establish a relationship to handle disaster management for schools? Is this a stand-alone budget?” inquired Wamakuyu.
Amolatar Woman MP, Agnes Atim Apea, urged Members of the Budget Committee to support the recommendation by the Education Committee to increase funding to the sector so that the Ministry can ably address disasters that affect institutions of learning.
“Floods destroyed almost six schools in my district and when the Prime Minister went there, she told us that the issue of disasters in schools is handled by the Ministry of Education, who told me they do not have a budget for that. This budget will avoid the ping pong,” said Apea.
The Education Committee also recommended that the Ministry of Finance allocates an additional Shs6.64 billion to the Higher Education Students Financing Board to supplement the allotted Shs5.75 billion aimed at supporting a total of 3,000 needy students to access higher education through loans.
Twesigye said the available funding can only support 1,419 students in financial year 2022/2023, leaving out 1,581 students.
Apea called for accountability for the loans given to students under the Students Loan Scheme, saying that there was discrimination in the allocation of monies under the programme.
Emmanuel Otiam (NRM, West Budama County) said the issuance of loans to students ought to be a continuous process where students can, at any time, apply for the loans and be given due consideration.
Moses Aleper (NRM, Chekwii County, Kadam) supported the provision of additional funding for loans to students but emphasized the need to revisit the criteria by which the loans are awarded.
“There is affirmative action in terms of regions but the disbursement of these loans should be explicit and clear,” Aleper said.