UGANDA: Lawyer presents Draft Law to Regulate School Fees, implores MPs to take it up

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Lawyer and Human Rights activist Andrew Karamagi; Courtesy Photo

Ugandan Lawyer and human rights activist, Andrew Karamagi, has prepared a draft Bill he says is meant to regulate School Fees and related charges and costs the education service providers in the country impose on learners in the country.

The Bill Supplement, a copy of which is already in print form, seeks to provide for a regulation of tuition, school fees, related charges and costs required by all education service providers that operate under license issued by the Ministry of Education including both government-owned, partially government-owned and private held institutions.

Karamagi’s Bill seeks to establish a coherent payment structure across the country’s learning institutions, eradicate harmful aspects of commercialization of education and reorient education as a social economic imperative that will propel human capital development, which is a strategic development objective.

“Seeing how parents, guardians, & learners are suffering, I’ve prepared a draft Bill for the regulation of tuition, school fees, & related charges. Would like a serious Member of Parliament to adopt & table it. Interested MPs should send me a message. I’ll mail it to you.” Karamagi said.

In the Bill’s justification, Karamagi argues that at present, education in Uganda has, since it’s privatization in 1993/4, steadily become less of a service but a highly commercialized venture.

“This has distorted public and private incentives for a functional education sector, relegated millions of children to derelict Universal Primary and Universal Secondary Education public-funded option better known as “Bonna Bakone” (worthless education), and encouraged the unregulated proliferation of schools, without benchmarks, less so the implementation of curricula, pedagogies, and other standards.” the draft Bill reads in part.

“The Bill will avert the growing challenges of socioeconomic inequality perpetrated by disparate standards and increasingly unaffordable education” it adds.

He argues, by delimiting the parameters of payments related to learning, the Bill to regulate tuition, school fees, related charges and costs will lay a progressive foundation for holistic, countrywide, and shared human capital development.

The proposed law comes amid public debate on exorbitant school fees and requirements charged by both government and private education institutions in Uganda which points to questions about the affordability and access to the globally-recognized right to education.

As schools in Uganda re-opened for studies on Monday, media reported low turn-up of learners across the country, a trend partly attributed to parents’ failure to meet the required fees and related costs charged by administrators of schools.

Karamagi however says, he is aware his proposed legislation will be fiercely fought by individuals who have interests in the current education sector but he is ready to push it to the end.

“All I need is an assurance that you (the MP) will not sell out. This proposal will be fought hammer and tongs because it threatens a syndicated web of interests.”

“My Bill doesn’t tackle the root cause(s) of the crisis, but it proffers some much-needed reliefs.” Karamagi said.

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