KAMPALA —The continued soaring cost of acquiring education in the Uganda is watering down all efforts in reducing school drop-out rate of especially the girl child, Mr. Nixon Segawa the Executive Director Girl Child Initiative Uganda (GCIU) has said.
Quoting economic frustrations in the country, where some families are going without food and water, Mr Segawa said, going to school and later acquiring education becomes a by-the-way.
“The girls who had endured to rejoin school after a two-year Covid-19 induced haitas are having no option but to drop out of school and begin working as house maids, bar maids, street vendors and hawkers,” the Girl Child Initiative Uganda boss said, accusing
school authorities of fueling the situationby increasing schools fees, asking a long list of school requirements, conditioning zero balance at the beginning of the term among others.
Primary and secondary school education is meant to be free in the East African nation, but most government schools say they do not receive enough state funding to cover running costs, in turn charging for everything from exam fees to toilet paper.
Many headteachers have ignored an Education Ministry plea not to hike fees above pre-pandemic levels, said two human rights lawyers who have filed suit against the government to demand it regulate fees – something it promised to do in 2018.
According to a report by UNICEF, one in ten children did not report back to school in January, while the National Planning Authority (NPA) estimated last year that up to 30% of children could drop out of school due to the COVID-19 fallout.
Now with the soaring bills at school, Segawa whose Wakiso-based organization is working to champion the right to education of children said the number of those dropping out is increasing each day.
“It’s so unfortunate that government is not doing enough in addressing the matter given the fact that we are running a free market economy. The Minister of Education and Sports has continued to make orders to the effect that no school should increase fees without first seeking approval but these orders have fallen on deaf ears,” he said.
Segawa now wants government to walk the talk.
“It should not be seen to just talk of punishing schools that have defied the orders against hiking fees but should go ahead and implement the punishment. Some schools should serve as an example to the rest.
The Ministry should come out and regulate the fees paid in schools as it had promised way back in 2018.”
“The government should address the factors that have increased the cost of living which include: the high fuel prices, cost of food supplies, cost of transportation“.
He also wants government to further increase capitation grant from Shs20,000 as it was revised in May to a reasonable figure that matches the high cost of living to enable government aided schools run better.