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Complaints as Cabinet Abolishes PTA Fees

Recently the Minister in charge of ICT and National Guidance, Dr. Chris Baryomunsi said that the Cabinet had resolved all Universal Primary (UPE) and Secondary Schools (USE) to stop charging learners any fees as schools reopen in January next year. But parents, headteachers and local leaders have asked the government not to abolish the PTA fees until it's able to fund the schools adequately.
Pupils of Kiwanguzi PS getting porridge at school. There are fears that abolition of PTA fees may leave some learners with no lunch at school

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Parents, headteachers and local leaders across the Country have expressed displeasure at the move by the government to abolish the PTA fees paid by learners.

Recently the Minister in charge of ICT and National Guidance, Dr. Chris Baryomunsi said that the Cabinet had resolved all Universal Primary -UPE and Secondary Schools -USE to stop charging learners any fees as schools reopen in January next year.

According to Baryomunsi, Cabinet noted that public schools have been charging learners various charges even though it is supposed to be free for all.

However, the move has attracted strong opposition from local leaders, parents and headteachers across the Country.

The parents, headteachers and local leaders have asked the government not to abolish the PTA fees until it's able to fund the schools adequately.

Muhammad Mugoya the Inspector of Schools in Mbale City says that PTA fees have not only played a big part in the day-to-day management of schools but are also crucial in infrastructural development citing schools that mobilize parents to construct classroom blocks.

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Ignatius Koomu the LC 5 Chairman of Nakaseke district says that the PTA fees have helped to address financial challenges in the schools and its abolition may plunge the education sector into turmoil.

Koomu says that in the financial year, the government can only build two toilet facilities in Nakaseke but many others collapse annually, and it is through parents' contribution that they can be reconstructed.

 “Now what will happen if the toilet collapses but the districts don’t have money to reconstruct them, won't hose schools be closed by health inspectors till the government releases the funds and the pupils will be the losers?” Koomu asked.

Francis Nsubuga Ssematimba, the Head Teacher of St Maria Goretti Mpugwe Primary school in Masaka district says that the fees have been crucial to respond to emergencies.

“Take a situation when a latrine sinks or gets filled and the government doesn’t take immediate action as it has always been, it is indeed proper that parents join hands to provide a timely response,” Nsubuga says.

Emmanuel Kizza Kintu, the Headteacher of Kasagga Primary School In Nakaseke explains that they have been using part of the fees to pay teachers who are not on government payroll.

“If the fees are abolished, this will worsen the shortage of teachers and contribute to poor performance in government schools,” Kizza said.

Marjorie Kalemera Mubeezi the Headteacher of Nkumba Primary School in Wakiso district, says parents have been paying 88,000 shillings every term as feeding fees for each child.

Mubeezi however says the money would also be used to also pay for utilities and provide security at the school so as to complement the low capitation grant from the government for the over 1,150 pupils in the school.

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Though the ministry of education has promised to release shillings 400,000 for schools to prepare for reopening next year, Mubeezi says it might not be enough for clearing the compounds, renovating classrooms, and providing handwashing soap among other needs.

Caroline Nyafono, a teacher at Chadwick Namate Primary School in Entebbe municipality says there won't be a need to charge any fees if the government was sending enough funds for all school needs.

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Parents have also piled pressure on the government not to abolish the PTA fees.

Ronald Ssebuyungo a parent at Butiikwa Primary School in Nakaseke district says that they voluntarily agreed to pay 10,000 shillings per term to enable the school to prepare lunch for their children so that they attend classes comfortably.

Ssebuyungo says that the cabinet resolution was passed in bad faith because no learner can concentrate on studies on an empty stomach.

“We can’t go back to old times where we used to pack food for our kids, it's very risky in recent times and we shall not adhere to the resolution. ” Ssebuyungo said.

Donatus Eguma, a parent from Southern Division in Kabale Municipality says that the government can scrap PTA fees if it is capable of providing more financial support to all the schools in time.

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Other parents from Entebbe municipality asked the government not to abolish PTA fees but instead let it be capped not to exceed shillings 100,000 per term.

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Musa Wamala, a member of the Board of Governors of Bwala Islamic Secondary school in Masaka city, demands that government makes a commitment to meeting all the costs of managing schools before it can stop parents from making financial contributions to the school.

He also warns that the abolishing of the PTA will detach parents from the management of the schools, which will eventually affect the learning process as there will be nobody to follow up on the learners beyond the teachers.

The capitation grant provided by the government in UPE schools is 14,000 Shillings per learner annually and for the USE the government provides 40,000 Shillings for O’level students per term and 80,000 Shillings for the A’ level students.

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