Education sector budget deficit a concern for school programmes in Uganda

By Civil Society Budget Advocacy Group (CSBAG)

RELI members- Civil Society Budget Advisory Group, STiR Education, and The Uganda Society for Disabled Children, urged the government to increase spending for schools inspection and monitoring at an exciting session in parliament on 12th April 2021.

Under the umbrella body, Civil Society Budget Advocacy Group (CSBAG), they presented a position paper to the Parliamentary Committee on Education raising concerns on budgetary and human resource constraints for the Directorate of Education services and Local Governments.

Currently, the Budget allocation for schools’ inspection is approximately $15.71  per school per term, which equals $47.24 for three terms. CSBAG pointed out that this amount is just a third of the estimated cost of $ 42.83 which was independently estimated by the National Planning Authority. 

The group urged the government to appropriately fund schools and institutions inspection. This amount should be increased to a minimum of $42.83 as proposed by National Planning,” said Brenda Akite from STiR Education.

Feeding programme

They added that there’s not enough money for the implementation of school feeding programmes for public primary and secondary schools. Only one out of every three children receives meals in school with urban children more likely to receive school meals than their rural counterparts.

“Government should allocate resources to the Ministry of Education and Sports to fully fund the implementation of the school feeding programme for public and secondary schools,” Akite said.  Improving learning outcomes in higher institutions of learning, requires the government to provide adequate funds for the recruitment of both academic and non-academic staff. This would reduce staffing gaps in public universities and institutions of higher learning.

Sponsored students

Government-sponsored students are faced with similar challenges as universities disburse $ 1.27 per day per student to cover all meals. “This is too low to match the high cost of living. Covid-19 has disrupted the  education sector and the government needs to adequately address  challenges facing the sector.” Said Akite.

The committee chaired by Pallisa County MP Jacob Opolot , commended CSBAG for its presentation noting that it would inform their discussion with the Ministry of Education. The MPs however, faulted the CSOs for failure to tackle the issue of the Capitation grant for UPE in their Paper, which they said should be handled. “I want to thank CSBAG for the timely document. However, they forgot about the capitation grant for UPE. ,” Joseph Ssewungu, the MP Kalungu said.

The Universal Primary ducation (UPE) Capitation grant is an annual grant paid by government for each learner in public primary schools and grant-aided primary schools meant to fund operational costs of managing schools; maintenance of school facilities; facilitate measures to improve learning outcomes and attract more learners; finance sports and co-curricular activities. Whereas the 2020/2021 Budgeting and Implementation guidelines indicate a minimium UPE annual capitation grant of $ 4.82 per learner, schools continued to receive $3.40. A 2018 study by the National planning Authority on UPE costing recommended a capitation of  $ 18.03 for learners in Urban schools and $ 16.88 for learners in rural schools

Geoffrey Macho, the MP Busia Municipality advised the groups to take industrial action where the government had failed to respond.  Other CSBAG and RELI members that participated in the development of the position paper were: the Initiative for Social and Economic Rights (ISER), Uganda Debt Network-UDN and Twaweza.

(Featured image: From Left is Patrick Rubangakene, CSBAG Budget Policy Specialist, Brenda Akite from STiR Education, Mitchel Ainebyoona, CSBAG Budget Policy Specialist, and Martin Ssebalu from The Uganda Society of Disabled Children during the CSO meeting with Parliamentary Committee on Education and Sports on Friday, 9th April 2021.)

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