The Initiative for Social and Economic Rights (ISER) is seeking intervention in the regulation of fees being asked for by government aided schools across the country.
“These schools are supported by government through payment of salaries of their teachers and are given money to cater for the development of their schools yet they demand high fees from parents. This is unacceptable,” said Angella Nabwowe Kasule, the Programs Director ISER.
Presenting the petition to the Speaker of Parliament Rebecca Kadaga on Wednesday, the organization asked parliament to regulate the fees charged. They argue that the government supported schools should be a social good that should be accessible for all regardless of status and background.
ISER collected signatures from over 100 Ugandans at home and abroad before petitioning, questioning why government aided schools charge fees like development fees, church fees, swimming pool entrance, and internet among others which are more than what even private schools are charging.
“Article 30 of the constitution of the Republic of Uganda states that ‘All persons have a right to education’. This is elaborated in the National Objectives and directive principles of state policy which provides that the state shall promote free and basic compulsory education,” Nabwowe said.
“This trend if unabated constitutes a threat to the right to education in Uganda and contravenes article 21 of the constitution on equality and freedom from discrimination”.
The petitioners confirmed to the speaker that most government schools had increased school fees through charging unnecessary fees by attaching a fees circular of St.Henry’s Kitovu- Masaka, with a detailed breakdown of fees structure showing a maintenance fee of 391,600 and pastoral care of 35,000 respectively.
“As an organization, we are concerned that children from poor backgrounds cannot access some government aided schools even if they excel and yet the said schools receive state funding”.
They expressed concern that as a result of the high tuition and other fees charged by schools, many children risk losing their right to education which should be “an equalizing tool that redresses inequality in society.”
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The speaker of parliament Rebecca Kadaga on receipt of the document welcomed the petition citing that for the first time parliament is going to address something important to the population as many civil organizations have been concentrating on things like a right to association.
“I am happy that you have petitioned over this matter. I have been receiving many petitions but about first generation rights like the right to speak and the right to associate ignoring the second generation rights like the right of access to education,” said Kadaga.
“When you look at this fees structure, you wonder what all this money is for. In some schools we pay building fee for 30 years but you never find any new building. The situation has gone out of hands. We need to re-focus the process of education”.
She assured the petitioners that the matter shall be tabled before the house and discussed revealing that she is a victim as many school children from her district and the country at large end up in her office seeking for academic support due to the increasing fees.
‘What you are talking about I know because I receive many children with very good marks with a list of high fees. At times, I can only afford to pay their tuition but the other functional fees constrain me,” said Kadaga.