Members of Parliament from the Acholi sub-region have proposed that the government either takes control of all grant-aided schools or imposes stringent regulations. These suggestions were presented during a meeting at Nakawa with the Education Policy Review Commission, led by Nuwe Amanya Mushega.
Anthony Akol, the Chairperson of the Acholi Parliamentary Group, expressed concerns about the current scenario where various schools are owned by different foundation bodies. He argued that this setup is causing confusion and division in many communities, particularly in the Acholi region. Schools affiliated with different religious bodies, such as Catholics, Anglicans, and Muslims, operate independently, employing different teaching methodologies. Akol emphasized that education should have a national character to prevent the fragmentation of the educational landscape.
Acholi Members of Parliament voiced their opinions during the meeting, with some opposing the radical takeover of faith-based schools. Gulu Woman City MP Betty Aol Ocan highlighted the delicate nature of the matter, emphasizing the need for careful handling.
The commission acknowledged the need for action but expressed uncertainty about how to streamline the relationship between the government and grant-aided schools. Some members suggested an alternative approach, limiting the influence of faith-based institutions on school boards and management committees.
This is not the first time such a recommendation has been made in Uganda. The issue of government control over faith-based foundation schools has been raised in the past, echoing sentiments from committees dating back to 1940. The government had assumed control of schools in 1963, only to return ownership later. The current situation involves over 74 percent of government-aided schools in Acholi being owned by non-state actors, including religious organizations.
The ongoing debate revolves not only around the educational aspect but also the land-related issues, as many schools are situated on land owned by churches and other faith-based institutions. The government has been working since 2013 to ensure schools acquire their own land titles.