President Museveni has tasked the new Minister of Local Government Hon. Rafael Magyezi to evaluate the effectiveness of Universal free education to inform a decision on whether government should maintain the program, or scrap it.
The directive was communicated in the Presidents New Year address delivered at his country home in Rwakitura on Tuesday.
President Museveni said the minister will resolve the issue of whether all parents can afford school fees before the program is scrapped. He said he has been intrigued by the practice of charging school fees in government schools mainly by headteachers which he says undermines the relevancy of the program. He says, there is no reason to maintain the program if parents can afford the school fees.
“If we don’t want UPE or USE, why do we go on sending grants to the schools? If the parents can afford, we go on with school fees, and we shift UPE/USE grants from the central government to other items” President Museveni said.
He said the NRM knew that many families could not afford education and introduced universal free education, but head teachers and local groups have reintroduced school charges leading to expulsion of many children, a decision he does not agree with.
As the new school term begins, Museveni also asked each village assembly to pass a resolution on whether government should tolerate the practice of head teachers who charge fees in government schools, or not.
He called on all NRM leaders to stop the practice of charging fees in government schools
“If parents can’t afford fees, why then do you impose such charges and even do so without consulting the central government? Are you an enemy of the children, or an enemy of the country?” Museveni said.
The practice of charges in government schools has been attributed to inadequate funding from government to cater for several study requirements, forcing school administrators and parents to agree on a reasonable fee to support the program.