By Fortunate Ahimbisibwe
SENIOR One intake is expected to double when Universal Secondary Education (USE) takes off in February.
The commissioner for secondary education, Yusuf Nsubuga, said the number is expected to increase to 250,000 students, up from 120,000 last year.
They will be admitted in 727 government-aided schools that are going to enroll students under the free secondary education programme, and 310 private schools which have entered a joint venture with the Government.
Nsubuga was addressing about 600 headteachers and the proprietors of 310 private schools at Old Kampala Secondary School.
The schools will sign a memorandum of understanding with the Government by the end of January to implement and support the Universal Secondary Education programme.
â€œEnrolment at secondary level has been very poor. About half of the primary seven graduates who qualify have not been able to access secondary education in the past. We expect this percentage to double with this intervention,â€ Nsubuga said.
He noted that the high drop-out rate in secondary schools is another problem.
â€œEven many of those who join secondary school do not complete S4. There has been a poor completion rate and this reflects badly on our system. The Government intervention has come at the right time.â€
Nsubuga said some 120 government-aided schools would not take part in the initial stage, mainly because their tuition fees are too high. Most of them are boarding schools.
It was the first time the Ministry of Education met with representatives of the private schools that were identified for the USE scheme.
The purpose of the meeting, Nsubuga explained, was to highlight the expectations of the Government.
â€œWe called you to give you the implementation guidelines since you are our partners in education.
You must ensure good management in your schools. We shall also cross check if your teachers have the right qualifications,â€ he said.
The Government will pay a bursary of sh47,000 per student per term, on top of a sh7m threshold to the school. The bursaries will be paid after a head-count is conducted to verify the number of students in each school.
Most headteachers and proprietors welcomed the intervention but many said the Government would have to consider increasing the amount paid per student.
USE will be implemented this year, starting with senior one. Only students who score aggregate 4 to 32 will be admitted.