By Solomon Hamala
A total of 65 head teachers in Bugiri district are to face disciplinary action for levying abnormal charges (extra) fees on pupils in government aided schools.
This was revealed by the Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) Bugiri, Ezaruku Kazimiro while addressing head teachers at Hindocha Primary School in Bugiri district on May 1st 2021.
The CAO said there has been a very low turn up of students this academic term because of the extra charges levied by head teachers which in turn has scared away parents from taking back their children to school.
Kazimiro revealed that after discovering there was a very low turn up of pupils in most schools, the district engaged the officer of the District Internal Security Officer (DISO) and World Vision a local Non-Governmental Organization.
“The DISO and World Vision found out that parents had decided to stay with their children at home saying they lacked money to pay for fees,” Kazimiro said, adding that Government aided schools are meant to provide free education to all children of school going age.
He said some government aided primary schools deep in rural areas were even charging between Shs100, 000 and Shs150, 000 as fees for each pupil yet parents cannot afford.
“Much as we know there is need for some parents to make a contribution towards the smooth running of these schools, the fees being charged are totally abnormal,” he said.
Kazimiro said the district had set up a ten man disciplinary committee to investigate the matter besides recommend for punitive action where necessary against the head teachers.
“We will be denying future leaders of this nation a bright future in case this illegal habit goes on,” he said.
On 16th April, 2021, President Museveni directed that head teachers charging fees on USE and UPE students should be sacked.
The Resident District Commissioner (RDC) Bugiri, Godfrey Nyakahuma said the district education department in collaboration with World Vision had launched a campaign dubbed GO BACK TO SCHOOL.
“The campaign is aimed at encouraging students who had resorted to scaring away birds in rice fields or working in gold mines to return with assurance that head teachers will not charge the abnormal fees,” the RDC said.
Nyakahuma urged head teachers to desist from the habit of absenteeism saying it has contributed to the declining academic performance especially at Primary Leaving Examinations in the district.
He appealed to teachers to encourage female pupils who would became pregnant during the COVID 19 break to return to school to pursue their studies in order to realize their life time dreams.
“Some of these girls can still make it in life even after giving birth instead of rotting away in villages,” he said.
The District Inspector of Schools (DIS) Bugiri, David Kazungu said majority of the teachers had devised means of eluding arrest by avoiding giving out receipts for fees payments made at school.
Kazungu said most of the head teachers were interested in charging abnormal fees but have remained static without any improvement in academics.
“Every year the same schools that are charging fees on students are the ones with poor grades,” he said.
However, The chairperson head teachers Bugiri, Ali Bukenya who is also the head teacher Bukooli college school said most schools are forced to levy fees even without consultation from parents due to high costs of utility bills besides paying for teachers who are not on government payroll.
Bukenya said each pupil under Universal Primary Education is given shillings 17,000 per year by government while those under Universal Secondary Education receive 175,000 annually and those in advanced level shillings 270,000 which he said is too little compared to the current inflation.
He urged government to increase funding towards universal primary secondary education in the country if head teachers are to stop the habit of charging extra fees.
“The problem is that most of these schools cannot run without levying very high fees charges on students,” he said.