Lawmakers from various political backgrounds have raised concerns about the high fees charged by many private schools across the country. They accuse the Ministry of Education and Sports of not addressing what they consider a significant problem.
During a recent presentation on the high cost of school fees in some public and tertiary learning institutions, the State Minister for Higher Education, Mr. John Chrysostom Muyingo, did not provide any regulations. This omission frustrated the Members of Parliament who were present.
In his statement to the Parliament, Mr. Muyingo indicated that the policy regulating school fees is outdated, and a new approach to Free Compulsory (Universal) Education is being put into practice. This reference to the policy being outdated was also mentioned in a previous Cabinet paper on school fees regulations by the Ministry of Education. The Cabinet, however, directed the ministry to submit another memorandum on compulsory free education for all.
Mr. Muyingo reported that this new memorandum on free and compulsory education for all was approved by the Cabinet on March 17, 2023. He also stated that the ministry has begun implementing Cabinet’s resolution and will update Parliament on its progress at the appropriate time.
Speaker Anita Among, who also serves as the Bukedea District Woman MP, along with other legislators, criticized the government for its slow response. They expressed a desire for information on Universal Free Education but were more concerned about regulations for school fees in primary, secondary, and tertiary institutions.
Ms. Among stated, “We appreciate Universal Free Education, but we need action now, as we are entering the third term. In the absence of regulations, we should at least have guidelines for schools, specifying the minimum and maximum school fees that can be charged.”
Ms. Among was disappointed that Mr. Muyingo’s statement resembled that of State Minister for Sports, Mr. Peter Ogwang, which was presented the previous week and faced similar rejection.
Ibrahim Ssemujju Nganda from Kira Municipality questioned why Mr. Muyingo hadn’t resigned when faced with a similar request for a statement. He asked, “Why doesn’t this Parliament advise him to resign? How can he present the same statement and sign it? How can we defend him?”
The Leader of the Opposition in Parliament, Mr. Mathias Mpuuga, also expressed dissatisfaction with the statement, stating that it was not worth debating. He emphasized the need to discuss education in a way that inspires young students.
Ms. Among concluded that Mr. Muyingo should return with a more comprehensive report for presentation to the House. Mr. Muyingo acknowledged the concerns raised and requested time to provide a more detailed update.