- The high charges are making the learners to miss out on the basic component of attaining literacy and numeracy under the Universal Primary Education UPE
- According to the 2017, Twaweza East Africa’s Sauti za wananchi report, 12 per cent of Ugandan parents said besides distance to school, a number of schools are also charging excessive school contributions, which become difficult for them to meet
By Ronald Orachwun
Nebbi- Education authorities have issued strict guidelines to head teachers of government aided primary schools in the district against commercializing and charging exorbitant school dues.
The move to arrest or closing of the schools is aimed at curbing cases of school drop outs, orchestrated by the tendency of schools taking advantage of unsuspecting parents and learners.
Innocent Openjtho, the Nebbi district education officer says the district has received information that a number of teachers are concentrating more on remedial classes while ignoring the normal classes set by government because of the money involved in the additional classes.
“It’s alarming that some government schools concentrate more on remedial classes because of the extra money pupils pay. How about the pupils who do not have money for the extra classes? I think now UPE is losing meaning, some teachers even wait for remedial classes only”, he told journalists in his office.
Openjtho says the district is currently carrying out impromptu school visits, adding that schools which will fall prey to their investigations will have their responsible teachers reprimanded, including revoking their licenses.
“We are going to close schools and arrest teachers who do not adhere to this directive. UPE came such that the very vulnerable children should access basic education. We don’t want our children to be deprived of education just because they cannot buy brooms or afford remedial classes.”
Estimates from the Nebbi district Inspectorate of schools shows that about 120,000 primary school age going children dropped out of school in 2018 due to financial related issues.
West Nile Press Online investigations on Friday indicated that two P5 pupils of Jukia primary school were left stranded next to the Nebbi Catholic diocese Bishop’s house still under construction after their parents did not pay examination fees.
“I am going home. I was chased from school because I don’t have examination fees,” one of the pupils only identified as Bithum said.
Ocungi Pastore, a concerned resident of Yaokecha village Nebbi district said: “I once met my neighbor’s child idle at home during class hours. On interrogation, I discovered that he missed class because his teacher failed to understand that he had no money for a file where to keep his stationery at school.”
Peter Otoma, the deputy headteacher of Akanga primary school in Atego Sub County Nebbi district dismissed the allegation that schools are commercialising education.
“Schools cannot meet the daily expenses supposed to be incurred by the parents, for instance books knowing that even government does not cater for such things. We want parents to work closely with schools if they value the education of their children,” he said.