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Bitamazire warns UPE schools on charging fees

By Vision Reporter

Added 30th October 2007 03:00 AM

GOVERNMENT primary schools have continued to charge fees despite the free Universal Primary Education (UPE), which started in 1997.

GOVERNMENT primary schools have continued to charge fees despite the free Universal Primary Education (UPE), which started in 1997.

By Fortunate Ahimbisibwe

GOVERNMENT primary schools have continued to charge fees despite the free Universal Primary Education (UPE), which started in 1997.

Delegates at the education sector review yesterday said some secondary schools had also started the practice, defying President Yoweri Museveni’s directive not to charge any money.

Only 444,020 pupils of the 1,050,000 who joined Primary One in 2001 will sit for Primary Leaving Examinations this year.

The education minister, Namirembe Bitamazire, warned that the Government would prosecute any head teacher caught charging fees under the free primary and secondary education programmes.

“The poor are dropping out of school because of these charges. The Government’s intentions will not be met if this goes on.”

She observed that head teachers were taking advantage of the weak inspection capacity of the ministry to continue charging fees.

“We have asked the Cabinet to establish a directorate of inspection to end this practice.

Currently, we do not have the capacity to monitor who is complying and who is not.”

She also criticised the school management committees for not pressing head teachers to stop charging fees.

The minister said the education Bill, to be tabled before Parliament next month, would be tough on parents who do not send their children to school and head teachers who charge extra fees.

It was reported that some primary schools in Kampala charge sh80,000, while schools upcountry charge between sh3,000 and sh10,000.

“Some secondary schools also charge money for lunch and uniforms under the guise that the parents endorsed the decision. But the truth is that parents are coerced,” a delegate remarked.

An official in the ministry, however, said some schools charged fees because the capitation grant of each student was reduced from sh8,000 in 1998 to sh3,000 in the last financial year.

The Jinja district education officer, Abraham Were, said: “Students leave school to cut sugar cane. But we have adopted a policy of putting them in jail. When the parents come to see their children, we also jail them.”

Bitamazire warns UPE schools on charging fees

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