Private school proprietors have requested that the government establish a relief fund for them in the amount of at least Shs500 billion to enable them to prepare smoothly for the reopening of schools in January next year.
Michael Mawanda, MP for Igara East, who brought the issue before Parliament’s education committee yesterday, said the fund will also help school owners recover from the shocks caused by the Covid-19 outbreak and school lockdowns.
He also requested that the funds be made available by the end of December in order to allow school administrators to plan ahead of time.
In the current situation, bank loans amount to approximately Shs1.7 trillion; however, we are not advocating that the government shoulder this burden; rather, we are looking at that component of Covid-19, which amounts to approximately Shs500 billion, which is not a large sum of money, Mr Mawanda explained.
“Government may be able to rearrange things in order for these institutions to be able to reopen,” he went on to say. If the government is reopening in January, these schools require a fund, and there [should be] a fund in place by December.”
Schools will also utilize the funding to purchase hand sanitisers, soap, and temperature guns, according to Mr Mawanda.
MPs are opposed to the plan.
A section of MPs, on the other hand, rejected the idea, claiming that many private school owners have in the past charged high fees and other materials.
While the government can support private schools, many of them are owned by money-oriented individuals who have turned education into a social economy by baking students. “You only deceive this country by claiming that you are training these children while they are unable to defend their degrees,” Mr Charles Onen, the Gulu East MP, stated.
Mr. Emmanuel Ongiertho, the Jonam County MP, and Shadow Education Minister Brendah Nabukenya concurred with their colleague, stating that private school administrators had been tough and unfairly handled their employees, with many of them receiving inadequate wages.
If Parliament adopts this motion, we need to know immediately how it will influence school fees. We would like to promote private schools, but we also want to ensure that they are treated fairly.” “Can it provide a positive justification for the exorbitant prices charged?” Ms Nabukenya was the one who inquired.
Mr Mawanda’s proposal is in accordance with a resolution recently presented by Kyankwanzi Woman MP, Ms Christine Sendawula, calling for the government to provide financial assistance to private schools and educational institutions.
Ms Sendawula testified before the House of Commons that the closing of schools resulted in the loss of at least 3,500 employment.
“The education-related debt burden is close to Shs2 trillion, with interest accruing at a rate of 22 percent to 26 percent every day, and the burden is growing.” Some educational institutions are on the point of being auctioned off. With more than 3,500 instructors left off as a result of the revenue loss, the private education industry has been unable to maintain its employment capacity, according to Ms Sendawula.
This is the first time that private school proprietors have approached the government for assistance in this area.
In August, the Minister of Finance, Mr Matia Kasaija, instructed the owners to sell their land and pay off their loans if they did not want their schools to be auctioned off at a public auction.