By Monica Kobusiinge
Kampala: Following the president’s directive last month to have phased reopening of schools starting with candidates and finalists to enable them complete their academic year, the government has finally released 32.6 billion Shillings to facilitate the safe reopening and operationalization of public schools as finalists and candidates return to classrooms.
Alex Kakooza, the Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Education has revealed that part of the released funds is capitation grants for primary and secondary schools, business, technical, vocational education and training adding that another portion is also put aside to support the inspection and monitoring department which is at the centre of school reopening.
The capitation grants are computed based on school enrollment, the government provides 10,000 Shillings for each pupil under the Universal Primary Education (UPE). Those under Universal Secondary Education are allocated 41,000 Shillings and 85,000 Shillings for O and A’level respectively in addition to a block grant of 100,000 Shillings per term.
According to the capitation grants expenditure guidelines, 50 percent of the grant is supposed to be used on instructional materials, 30 percent on co-curricular activities, 15 percent should be spent on schools management, maintenance, payment for utilities such as water and electricity whereas 5 percent on school administration.
However, there are worries that the funds might take more time to be accessed and eventually used by the schools.
Filbert Baguma, the Uganda National Teachers’ Association general secretary said that the delay will impact the enforcement of standard operating procedures for the schools and that some public schools may not obtain certificates of compliance before the official reopening.
During the Covid-19 lock down, the Ministry of Finance asked schools to return funds they had received for the second term in the fourth quarter of the 2019/2020 financial year and halted the release of funds moving forward.
The development ignited debate in public and government-aided schools with school heads arguing that the suspension of physical teaching didn’t mean that the schools had indefinitely closed. The head teachers at that time argued that schools remained to function and had to clear utility bills and paying some staff who are not on the payrolls like school guards, however, their outcry fell on deaf ears.
Meanwhile, Janet Kataha Museveni, the minister for education said that several interventions have been put in place to support the private schools to enable them to keep in business. Interventions include among others differing Pay as You Earn Tax, including the education sector under categories of those who can access long term loans from Uganda Development Bank.