By Moses Mulondo
THE Budget for the education sector has increased by 10%, according to the education minister Jessica Alupo.
While presenting the 2014/2015 policy statement for her ministry to the parliament education committee on Thursday, Alupo said education will this financial year get sh1, 942.05b which is 10% higher than sh1, 761.59b which the sector received last financial year.
Commending parliament for the approval of their loan requests, Alupo attributed the increment to the various loans they obtained from various development sectors.
As part of the new development programs for this financial year, Alupo said the ministry will construct and rehabilitate 9 buildings of Makerere University, 14 buildings for Kyambogo University, 6 buildings for Gulu University, 7 buildings for Busitema University, 2 buildings for Muni University, 1 building for MUBS and a laboratory and library for Mbarara University.
Pointed out the challenges, the minister said the School Facilities Grant of sh48b for constructing and repairing classrooms has since reduced to only sh27b in the 2014/2015 financial year.
“The numbers of pupils keep increasing in schools. Some pupils continue to study under trees,” Alupo said while justifying the need for government to increase school facilities grant.
On the key unfunded priorities, the minister said she needs sh22.7b to increase capitation grants from sh7000 to sh10000 per UPE pupil but it has not been provided in the 2014/2015 budget.
The ministry also has a deficit of sh21.8b to increase capitation grants for students under USE and UPOLET to match the rise in the number of students.
Alupo said her ministry also lacks sh14b which is needed to construct schools in the 96 sub counties without government aided secondary schools.
The minister was however unable to give an answer to Kalungu West MP Joseph Ssewungu on why her statement lacked omitted salary enhancement for the teachers yet it was announced during the budget reading.
During the 2014/2015 budget reading, the finance minister Maria Kiwanuka announced that she allocated sh450b towards enhancement of public servants salaries including the teachers' salary increment. Out of the 450b, government has allocated 215b to increase salaries for the teachers.
The minister was also unable to explain to the MPs why only sh5b is mentioned for the students’ loan scheme yet another sh5b had been allocated to the project last year and it had not been utilized.
Alupo said she would need to make more consultations and get back to the committee with written answers.
Alex Ndezi threatened to move a motion in plenary to block the ministry’s budget until a vote for special needs education is created.
The committee chairman William Kwemera said, “Our committee has for the last three years recommended for the creation of a vote for special needs education but the ministry has been ignoring. We want it to be implemented as soon as possible.”
Alupo explained that she had applied to the ministry of finance pending approval from the Office of the Prime Minister for the vote to be created.
Uganda's higher education chocking
Uganda's education system needs overhaul
Museveni blasts Uganda's education system