School fees: School fees hike escalating girl child drop-out rate


A decision by some schools to raise third-term tuition fees — despite a loud oft-repeated government warning against any unauthorized fees hikes could keep children at home.

Mr. Nixon Segawa the Executive Director of Girl Child Initiative Uganda (GCIU)  has said the continued soaring cost of acquiring education in Uganda is watering down all efforts in reducing the school drop-out rate, especially the girl child.

Quoting economic frustrations in the country, where some families are going without food and water, Mr Segawa said, going to school and later acquiring an education has become a by-the-way.

“The girls who had endured to rejoin school after a two-year Covid-19 induced situation are having no option but to drop out of school and begin working as housemaids, barmaids, street vendors, and hawkers,” Mr Segawa said.

Mr Segawa who was talking to this reporter in an interview on 7 September accused school authorities of fueling the situation by increasing school fees, asking for a long list of school requirements, and conditioning zero balance at the beginning of the term among others.

Schools across the country opened for the third term this week and MPs demanded that First Lady and minister of Education and Sports Mrs Janet Museveni takes action against junior ministers and commissioners at the ministry who own schools and are always trying to frustrate government policy against the hiking of tuition fees.

Although primary and secondary school education is meant to be free in this East African nation, most government-aided schools say they do not receive enough state funding to cover running costs, in turn charging for everything from exam fees to toilet paper.

Reports across the country indicate that many head teachers in both primary and secondary schools have ignored an Education Ministry plea not to hike fees above pre-pandemic levels and this has prompted two human rights lawyers to file suit against the government demanding it regulate fees – something it promised to do in 2018.


According to a report by UNICEF, one in ten children did not report back to school in January, while the National Planning Authority (NPA) estimated last year that up to 30% of children could drop out of school due to the COVID-19 fallout.

Now with the soaring tuition and demands from schools, Mr Segawa whose Wakiso-based organization is working to champion the right to education of children said the number of those dropping out is increasing each day.

“It’s so unfortunate that the government is not doing enough in addressing the matter given the fact that we are running a free market economy. The Minister of Education and Sports has continued to make orders to the effect that no school should increase fees without first seeking approval but these orders have fallen on deaf ears,” he said.

“The government should not be seen to just talk of punishing schools that have defied the orders against hiking fees but should go ahead and implement the punishment. Some schools should serve as an example to the rest, government to walk the talk,” said Mr Segawa.

“The government should address the factors that have increased the cost of living which include: the high fuel prices, cost of food supplies, cost of transportation, “he added further.

He also wants the government to further increase the capitation grant from Shs20, 000 as it was revised in May to a reasonable figure that matches the high cost of living to enable government-aided schools to run better.

Mr Samuel Opio Acuti, the Kole North MP while presenting a petition and protest on fees hikes in schools across the country in parliament 7 September listed an array of schools, which are blatantly defying Janet Museveni’s directives.

He listed Namilyango College, St. Mary’s College Kisubi, Gayaza High School, Nabisunsa Girls, Kibuli SS, Kawempe Muslim SS, St. Joseph Naggalama, and King’s College Budo.

Mr Opio claimed that some of those schools violate both the Constitution and the Education Act of 2008 which make education a right and must be equitable, affordable, and available to all who qualify and not just the rich only. Ends

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