According to Mary Mutende the principal education officer Department of private schools and institutions at the education ministry, for anybody planning to start a school, land has to be the first on the list.
Starting a school is a lengthy and complicated process. However many people in Uganda, wake up and decided to put up a school and as the day sets off, the school is in operational. However the question remains, are these schools operating under the ministry's guidelines.
In an interview with the Ministry of Education, Science, Technology and Sports (MoESTS), a number of recommendations have been highlighted as bellow;
According to Mary Mutende the principal education officer Department of private schools and institutions at the education ministry, for anybody planning to start a school, land has to be the first on the list. A school cannot stand in air, so there must be enough land that is suitable for the school that one plan to build.
She explains that land for a single school is not equal to land for a boarding school, each has different needs. If one plans to have a school that has various activities like sports, then you need to have a lot of land, so all these have to be put into consideration.
"The land must be free from wrangles, we don't want someone to put up a school, tomorrow he has children and the following day someone is claiming the land is theirs. The person must own the land," she notes.
She notes that after you need to have at least 30% of the money that can put up the infrastructure, there after the person must visit their area local council to get letters of approval.
There after the person has to write to the permanent secretary ministry of education, with the subject of mater which should be intention to start a school.
"You have to specify what kind of school you would want to start. Is it boarding, day, primary, secondary or higher institution of learning. This will help the ministry to know which guidelines they should give you,' she notes.
After the local council leaders, especially the LC1 and LC 3 have to write to the ministry informing them weather the person intending to start a school in their village or sub country is capable of running a school, and whether the person is crime free and also weather the land is theirs.
There after the construction can kick off, and after before opening the school to the public, the owner has to first hire qualified and licensed teachers by the ministry of education.
"Parents should always endeavor to find out this because it is these teachers who are to determine the future of their children. If the teachers are not qualified then the child's future is doomed," she noted.
"Secondary schools are mandated to open with not less than eight teachers, and primary with not less than seven teachers, whether you have one class or not. If the school starts with more classrooms, at least each class should have a teacher," she added.
After getting the teachers, then the district inspector of schools inspects the school there after they write a report to the ministry recommending that the school has all the facilities and it is good to go. Then the school is given an operational license by the ministry of education that expires after two years.
During the course of these two years, we expect the school to complete everything they are supposed to complete and thereafter they can now run a UNEB Centre.
Another report comes from the district health inspector, the report explains whether the school has enough pit latrines, is the infrastructure properly ventilated, are the doors properly fixed, is there space for exit in case of any emergency and many more.
The directorate of education standards also comes up with the report that approves that everything is up to the standards as per the ministry requirements.
Before the parent takes their children to any school, Tonny Mukasa Lusambu the assistant commissioner primary education advises parents to always take an initiative and visit the school's first.
He explains that it is their right to move around the school, talk to the teachers, find out about the school from people who have taken their children there and also ask the school owners if they are registered or not.
"This in such a way helps the parents to choose what suites their children best. It is wrong for someone to be busy and forget about what matters for their children," Lusambi explained.
Is it the right school for your child?
Mukasa explains that anyone looking for a school to take their children should first look at the minimum standards. It is not enough for one to look at the building of the school, because they don't offer what you want for your child, so the parent should first ensure that either the school is licensed or registered by the ministry of education.
This is to ensure that the ministry has looked at the institution and confirmed that the requirements are in place. This will help parents to know where to report in case the school has faulted.
"If the school is not registered by the ministry, it would be hard for us to follow up in case there has been a problem at the school," he explained.
He adds that before you chose a school for your child, it is always better to first look at the quality of the school. Many schools are after first grade, and any school can produce them. However it is important to first ask yourself in addition to the first grade what else will your child come up with, in terms of skills, discipline, and above all in terms of character.
There are schools with cultures, so a parent should first investigate to find out the culture of the school, and if it is lacking then don't waste your child in such a school.
"Parents also should endeavor to check for the facilities of the school, do they have a library with updated books and that are approved by NCDC, do they have laboratories that are fully equipped, are the classrooms enough, are there teachers who are qualified and registered by the ministry of education, the school should put up a copy of license or registration certificate for every parent to see," Mukasa explains.
Look at the cleanliness and sanitation of the school, do they have enough latrines for both girls and boys, are the classrooms properly ventilates and with enough space for pupils, is the compound child friendly.
He stresses that sometimes it is difficult to know whether the teachers are good or child friend at the beginning, however you need to look at the customer care of the people in the school.
"The way a person handles you at the beginning determines what they are. Parents should not forget that their children spend most of the time with the teachers so they should ensure that they are the right people for their children," he notes.