By Francis Kagolo
As over 300,000 students prepare to join the free Universal Secondary Education (USE) programme this year, the Government has threatened to dismiss head teachers charging illegal fees.
Speaking at the end of the national selections exercise for Senior One and technical institutions, education minister Jessica Alupo, also warned private schools against increasing school fees.
Alupo said the Government would not tolerate such “theft’’, adding that high school fees hinder access to education.
“The Government believes levying of school fees should be done in a fair manner that appreciates the economic challenges of the majority of the population,” she stated.
“It is illegal for head teachers to levy USE students extra fees. Those head teachers who are adamant will be disciplined for flaunting the USE guidelines,” Alupo added.
The minister said all fees should be approved by the ministry before being implemented. She also warned schools against admitting student numbers that are not commensurate with the number of teachers and classrooms.
A total of 331,360 students were admitted in USE schools, public technical institutes and government-aided secondary schools that do not have the USE programme.
Of these, 304,180 students are to benefit from the USE education in 1,861 schools and technical institutions across the country. This is the highest number of admissions recorded since the inception of USE in 2007, according to Francis Agula, the commissioner for secondary education.
Senior One students are scheduled to report for first term of February 13 Meanwhile, the ministry has launched a system where students can use the short message (SMS) platform on their phones to find out the schools where they have been admitted.
The minister said the initiative would make admission and registration easy. Students are advised to type S1, leave a space, their index number and send to 6600.
Alupo was optimistic that the SMS system would avert some problems associated with admissions.