The government has declined to assume the responsibility of financially supporting students in boarding schools, as revealed by Janet Kataha Museveni, the First Lady and Minister of Education and Sports.
Despite repeated pleas from parents and community leaders to construct dormitories in government-aided and founded schools to address the issue of girls dropping out of school, Janet Museveni contends that the government cannot bear the financial burden associated with managing boarding sections.
Speaking during the launch of the founders’ day of Samson Kalibbala Memorial Seed Secondary School in Lwamaggwa Subcounty, Rakai district, on Saturday, Mrs. Museveni stated that the government is yet to fully commit to covering the costs of students’ well-being in addition to the education it provides under the universal education policy.
“Boarding sections reintroduce the responsibility of sustainability, which the government evidently cannot afford,” she asserted. “At the Ministry of Education, we have been struggling with parents to provide lunch to students while at school. Unfortunately, some children still do not receive these meals, and we would like to see this problem addressed in boarding sections if they are introduced.”
She explained that the government operates on a policy of having public primary and secondary schools at the parish and sub-county levels, respectively. This policy encourages the sharing of responsibilities for child care between parents and the government, rather than fully relinquishing them to the government, which already faces numerous competing demands.
The Minister’s remarks came in response to requests from the school’s Board of Governors, who had urged the government to construct dormitories at the school to alleviate the burden on female students, who are forced to walk long distances, hindering their education.
Ali Mazzi, the Chairperson of the Board of Governors of Samson Kalibbala Memorial Seed Secondary School, argued that despite significant improvements in infrastructure and human resources, the school continues to experience high dropout rates among girls, who fall victim to early marriages and pregnancies due to the risks associated with long walks.
In light of these circumstances, the Education Minister emphasized the need for communities to formally commit to addressing the social needs of children in school if they wish to persuade the Ministry of Education to consider policy revisions.
In the interim, she called on parents and community leaders to combat any behaviors that disrupt students from completing their education as a means to enhance their quality of life.
Beti Olive Namisango Kamya, the Inspector General of Government and Chairperson of the Foundation Body of Samson Kalibbala Seed Secondary School, expressed gratitude to the government for its support of the school, which honors her late father’s dream of providing education to the community.
Notably, in 2015, the school was handed over to the government for administration and subsequently became eligible for the Uganda Intergovernmental Fiscal Transfers-UgFift program, funded by the World Bank.
According to Kamya, the school has received UGX 2.10 billion for infrastructure development since then, resulting in increased enrollment and improved academic performance.