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HomeOPINIONS AND COLUMNSOWEYEGHA-AFUNADUULA: On The Discriminatory Regulation Of Private Education In Uganda

OWEYEGHA-AFUNADUULA: On The Discriminatory Regulation Of Private Education In Uganda

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By Oweyegha-Afunaduula

There is no doubt that there is continuing crisis of Uganda’s economy, especially since the advent of Covid 19 Pandemic. While we thought Government would use the vast resources acquired from within and without the country to effectively fight Covid 19, it left nature take its own chose to buy vehicles, or else give money bonanzas to preferred businesses.

It did not help straggling businesses such as the numerous small businesses in our huge informal sector. It failed to use Covid funds to help private schools and private universities to relieve them of the negative impacts of Covid 19 in their performance. Many private schools collapsed and many private universities failed to deliver.

Government continues to conduct its business as if nothing went wrong. It continues with it’s culture of being a spendthrift for political ends. For example it continues to use scarce financial resources to maintain and sustain a huge, ineffective Parliament and to ensure expenditure on security outstrips expenditure in social services.

Private Schools and Private Universities are essentially social institutions doing social work using money squeezed from the parents of Uganda, with nothing or little coming from government.

Students Heading For Holidays- COURTSEY PHOTO

Government however has made it a tradition to spend millions, through the institution of President, on funerals and compensating families that have lost their dear ones through accidents killings by security organs. However, when this is done people are told that the President has helped, not that government has helped, yet the money spent is public money.

Government has realized the parents of Uganda, especially the poor are suffering the burden of fees and other costs related to the education of their children. In the past, governments helped such parents through functional bursary schemes, which mainly operated through local governments.

They also consistently provided books, etc. On the whole government still does so in state-run schools. However, private schools and private universities, while doing a great job to educate our young people and to pay taxes, get no help from government ever since it decided to to deregulate the economy.

Without declaring that it had reintroduced regulation in the economy, government recently decided to regulate private schools with regard to fees and other costs. I am not sure whether it tends to regulate private universities as well.

It is important that government avoids discriminatory regulation of fees in Private Schools and Private Universities, which it resisted assisting during the worst of Covid 19 Pandemic, but instead siphoned pertinent funds into the businesses of select business actors preferentially.

All schools and Universities are being hit hard by unregulated prices of fuels and food as well as taxi and bus fares or transport costs generally.

If government regulates prices, fares and other costs in the economy, it will have gone a long way to help private educational institutions. Or else, if government seizes the opportunity to set up a special assistance fund for private schools and private universities, they can go on paying taxes and educating our children and grandchildren.

It might also be the time to review privatisation altogether to establish whether privatisation is really working. One time the President of Uganda, Tibuhaburwa Museveni, declared that privatisation had failed. When did it start succeeding? Who is benefitting from the undeclared success story of Uganda’s privatisation?

One thing is true. The parents of Uganda have never suffered as they are today to educate their children. They have to incessantly borrow from money lenders or banks, one else sell their land in order to ensure that their children get some education, which unfortunately is getting less and less qualitative.

Those doing small businesses are overstressed with taxation, yet fewer and fewer Ugandans are able to buy from them due to mushrooming income poverty.

Those who engage in agriculture are falling out of farming because the prices for their crops are meaningless compared to the time, energy and money to make money from farming.

All this can explain why most working Ugandans and parents are in debts, and increasingly so. However, they see education, which is becoming extremely expensive, as the key to the future of their children and are ready , or are compelled to continue to position themselves in the debt web or to sell their, increasingly to foreigners, to keep their children in school.

They are stressing themselves further by taking their children to expensive schools where they believe quality education will be found.. Unfortunately so many children are dropping out of school because parents are unable to maintain and sustain them in school. This could have pushed government to intervene by enforcing fees limits without consulting private school authorities.

What the future relationship between government and private schools? Private school authorities have already rejected the intervention of government in their dynamics. As it is often said, when two elephants fight, the grass suffers. In this case, it is the learners and their parents that will suffer the tag of war between government and private school authorities.

For God and My Country.

The Writer Is a Ugandan Scientist And Environmentalist

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