By Mary Karugaba
The army has phased out boarding sections in all army schools, the ministry of defence has announced.
At the end of the implementation of the new policy, over 2,000 children will either have joined army day schools or joined Government UPE and USE schools.
The Ministry’s Joint Chief of Staff Maj. General Fred Mugisha told MPs on Public accounts committee last week that the new policy, already in effect, is being implemented in a phased manner, beginning with the primary sections. Mugisha said, only candidate classes have been spared.
“We have agreed that only candidate classes and Karimojong children in Obongi Primary school should be allowed to go on so that their classes are not interrupted. When they finish their exams, then, they will be left to join either the day section or government UPE or USE schools,” he said.
According to Mugisha, the affected schools include Jinja army boarding primary school, Mbarara army boarding school, Nakasongola army secondary school, Rubongi army secondary school and Masindi army primary boarding school.
Mugisha said the UPDF closed down the facilities after realizing that it was expensive to maintain the sections yet they are UPE, USE schools all over the country.
He reported a reduction in the number of UPDF orphans due to the absence of wars and improved healthcare for the soldiers.
“These boarding schools were established basically to take on orphans of fallen comrades and those officers and men in active service who could not bear responsibility of educating their children. Today, they are UPE and USE schools all over the country where they can be catered for,” he said.
The ministry officials led by the Permanent secretary Rose Byengoma were appearing before the committee to explain queries raised by the auditor general in a report to parliament.
The auditors complained that in Jinja army Primary School, the children were being fed on the same menu all year round and the school had only one computer.
The auditor also complained that in Rubongi army Scondary School Tororo, the school was not fenced so students find it easy to escape and controlling them during power blackout was difficult.
Byengoma explained that although some of the schools were meant to take on orphans, the gesture was being abused in some of the schools. She however declined to elaborate.
She said the biggest hindrance facing UPDF schools is finances. She said although the school menu is the same all year round, it contains a reasonable variety of foods. “The feeding rate has since been increased from sh1500 to sh1950 but this increase was eroded by inflation as reflected in the ever increasing food prices,” she said.