KAMPALA – Activists under the Coalition for Quality and Affordable Education in Uganda (COQUE) have decried the increment of tuition, school fees and other related costs and “outrageous” school requirements.
Uganda’s education sector has been on Covid-19 shut down for close to two years since March 2020. Upon reopening on Monday, January 10, 2022, several parents and guardians revealed that they can no longer afford to take back their children to schools because of hiked school fees and other related items.
Now, activists including lawyer Andrew Karamagi, Michael Aboneka and Kwagala Primah of Women’s Probono Initiative have come out and asked the government to intervene if it is to ‘secure’ the future of the children.
“We are a coalition of like-minded Ugandans who have an interest in ensuring that Education as a right is easily accessible and affordable by all Ugandans. This is our primary objective. Like the rest of the Ugandan public, we have witnessed a trend of schools, both privately owned and government-aided arbitrarily setting fees structures, alongside outrageous school requirements. This has gone on for long, on the watch of the government, and continues to drain the meagre resources available to parents and guardians, and simultaneously disenfranchising learners. The right to education has been sacrificed at the altar of profits,” they told media at Centre for Constitutional Governance offices in Ntinda on Thursday.
“We, therefore, are concerned that this vice needs to be eradicated! We have convened this news conference to draw the attention of the affected public and the authorities to our frustrations and discontent about this unregulated behaviour which is robbing the future of countless Ugandans. This is against the backdrop of the perennial problem of erratic, extortionist, and unconscionable costs that parents, guardians, and learners across the country must foot at the beginning of every school term. For decades, tuition structures have been constituted by ambiguous budget lines with titles like “development fees”, “building fee”, “computer fee”, amongst others. The situation is is compounded by a retinue of thr The called school requirements that include an indefinite and ever-growing list that features rolls of toilet paper, brooms, scrubbing brushes, mops, floor polish. paint, reams of paper, to name a few. With the advent of the novel coronavirus disease, the list has grown to include face masks, sanitizers, and other personal protective equipment. As things stand, school fees have now become an unbridled avenue for the attainment of supernormal profits, which diminishes the socioeconomic objectives of education.”
They say that education is a right and not merely an enterprise.
“Those offering It are doing so on behalf of Government, which is why they are registered and licensed by Government. It is the public’s right to directly participate in the affairs of the government as enjoined ty Article 38 of the 1995 Constitution of Uganda.”
The activists called upon the Ministry of Education and Sports to urgently intervene and stop this misconduct.
They also tasked parents to actively get involved in fighting this vice through all means possible to ensure that education is accessible for every Ugandan.
The activists have asked schools to revisit their fees and outrageous requirements in the spirit of promoting affordable education.
“If they are unwilling, we shall seek legal redress on the same.”
They revealed that they have collaborated on the development of a draft law that should activate this proposition, to establish an affordable, equitable, and coherent tuition and school fees regime through legislation.
“The object of this Bill is to provide for the regulation of tuition, school fees, related charges, and costs required by all education service providers that operate under licenses issued by the Ministry of Education. Hereunder, service providers shall mean and include government-owned, partially government-owned, and privately held institutions.”
“By delimiting the parameters for payments related to learning, the Bill to regulate tuition, school fees, related and costs will lay a progressive foundation for holistic, countrywide, and shared human capital development,” they said.
They asked the MPs to take up thE draft and support in Parliament.
According to them, the Bill seeks to establish a coherent structure of payments across the country’s learning institutions, eradicate harmful aspects of the commercialization of education, and reorient education as a socio-economic imperative that will propel human capital development, which is a strategic development objective.
“The members of this Coalition are available to provide technical support for this process. Specifically, we are willing to contribute towards the drafting process, raise the awareness of citizens, and facilitate learning sessions about the strategic importance of frontline services like education.”