By Andante Okanya
A human rights lobby group and Kalungu County West MP Joseph Ssewungu Gonzaga, have jointly protested a government proposal to reduce the capitation grant for pupils under the Universal Primary Education (UPE).
On May 2, the legislator and Initiative for Social and Economic Rights (ISER), filed a civil suit at the civil division of the High Court in Kampala. Government chief legal advisor the Attorney General, is listed as the defendant.
Through Centre for Legal Aid, they purport that the Education ministry is planning to cut the UPE capitation grant from sh7,560 to sh6,800 per pupil in the financial year 2014/15.
UPE was launched in 1997, as a government programme to fulfill the right to basic education to all children above six years. Government foots the annual fees for all pupils in government aided-schools.
The plaintiffs lament that if the purported plan is implemented, it will result in multiple negative effects on the education standards of pupils.
“Considering the prevailing inflation pressure, it is obvious that continuing to reduce the UPE capitation grant will have serious negative impact on the quality and standards of education received by children of the school-going age enrolled in UPE schools,” they lament.
Adding: “It will also be a huge disincentive particularly for the girl child whose retention levels are already very low.”
They claim Education ministry officials focus on resource allocation is tilted towards resource non-core activities and consumptive expenditure at the ministry headquarters.
The lobby group asserts that such a stance is imprudent, since the bulk of service delivery is at local level.
The Education Sector Strategic Plan (2004-15) is premised on the commitment to ‘provide for, support, guide, coordinate, regulate’ and promote quality education and sports to all persons for national integration, individual and national development.
Court documents show that ISER is a nonprofit human rights organisation responsible for promoting effective understanding, monitoring, implementation and realisation of economic and social rights.
The petitioners are seeking a court declaration that the intended plan is unjustifiable and irrational. They want court to pronounce that the move is in breach of Articles 30, 34(2) of the Constitution.
The AG is yet to file his defence. A hearing date is also yet to be scheduled.
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