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Education probe should set a different standard

By Vision Reporter

Added 31st December 2009 03:00 AM

I bet Edward Kasole Lwanga is the pioneer of quality private education in Uganda, whose innovations many education practitioners continue to replicate. I can proudly quote the emergence of Green Hill Academy in 1994, whose founder was Kasole’s head of c

I bet Edward Kasole Lwanga is the pioneer of quality private education in Uganda, whose innovations many education practitioners continue to replicate. I can proudly quote the emergence of Green Hill Academy in 1994, whose founder was Kasole’s head of c

By Patrick Kaboyo

I bet Edward Kasole Lwanga is the pioneer of quality private education in Uganda, whose innovations many education practitioners continue to replicate. I can proudly quote the emergence of Green Hill Academy in 1994, whose founder was Kasole’s head of curriculum and staff then, the emergence of City Parents’ School in 1999, whose pioneer staff, was formerly Kasole’s teaching staff.

With Lawrence Mukiibi as Kasole’s headteacher and Kasole as principal, his legacy has continued to breed many headteachers in Uganda today as products of a Kasole system of quality education.

In line with the commission of inquiry to investigate the utilisation of funds in primary and secondary schools, is to us educationists, a big welcome for Mukiibi to be part of a team that starts its work in a week’s time.

Firstly, if this commission is to be different from the other commissions we have had, I feel that a serious look at the recent whistle blower’s findings that exposed the questionable conduct in the education sector should be handled by the commission.

Secondly, key stakeholders and the public should be allowed to contribute to the commission’s hearings since this will create a forum for others to share their information regarding the subject of poor utilisation of funds.
Thirdly, for the successful execution of its duties, the commission should strategically place an information box ( like a suggestion box) in all areas where it will operate. This will help more citizens to freely surrender information to the commission without fear of intimidation.

SMS system, hot lines and toll free lines will also make the work of the commission easy as it will help them identify culprits at different levels.

Fourthly, if the commission is interested in investigating the process of disbursements, it should establish who at the finance ministry by omission, or commission was responsible for advising on the requests, releases and who signed different documents.

There should also be need to find out whether within five to 10 days funds were being transferred from the Ministry of Finance to Bank of Uganda after approval were timely as required.

The commission should then establish whether Bank of Uganda within a day released the money to the commercial banks. For this case, it might be only Stanbic Bank as the main commercial bank.

Do we need to ask ourselves why Stanbic Bank took a lion’s share in all these transactions and whether it was responsible for the delayed transactions? If yes, how should we hold it accountable?

It would also be important to establish whether the main commercial bank channelled the money to the regional commercial bank branches within a week. It is the regional commercial banks that are responsible for sending money to the district branches.

Within 35 days, district commercial banks were supposed to credit the funds to the chief administrative officer’s account, whose responsibility is to allocate the UPE funds to the district education officer’s account within 172 days (an equivalent of three months). After all the above, the district education officer is supposed to remit funds to school accounts within a number of months, but as teachers, we know that there are these semi-gods called personnel officers, who have made it a habit to complicate financial transfers for headteachers and teachers.
The commission should give suggestions on how to handle such stubborn personnel officers.
After receiving funds, the headteacher is supposed to declare the amount of money released to the school management committee, which is responsible for approving, monitoring and supervising the expenditure of the money. Instead many headteachers pocket the cash. The commission should prescribe punishments for such thieves or better still sack them.

Worse still, some of these headteachers used Government money to build their own schools. If the commission establishes such stories to be true, every such school should be declared government aided after investigations.
Some corrupt headteachers fix relatives as members of school management committees and use them to steal Government funds. Therefore, the commission should establish, who the implicated personalities are at different levels of fund management, right from the finance ministry to the grassroots.
Mukiibi and his colleagues should use a private sector school-led strategy that leaves no stone unturned when demanding for accountability.

The chairperson of the commission should truthfully stick to his principle as I know him to be a God-fearing person without bending any rule for anyone found to be implicated. Ugandans need to support the commission to hold responsible whoever will be found to be guilty of reversing the progress of our education sector.

Such culprits will be number one enemies of the state because Universal Primary Education and Universal Secondary Education programmes are social protection gears aimed at reducing poverty, improving nutritional outcomes and school enrolment.
Eradication of poverty is greatly linked to the objectives of the Ministry of Education and Sports which are geared towards expanding equal access to education, enhancing education quality and improving the effectiveness and efficiency in education delivery.

Broadly, the commission should complement one of the Poverty Eradication Action Plan’s priority areas of increasing the transition from primary to senior level of education from 50% to 80% by 2015.

The writer is the executive director of the Coalition of Uganda Private School Teachers Association

Education probe should set a different standard

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