By Nasser Kasozi Akandwanaho
The government of Uganda has finally released Shs32.6 billion in capitation grants to schools and tertiary schools ahead of reopening for finalists and candidates on October 15.
Alex Kakooza, the Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Education, confirmed release of the money, saying some portion of the money will be used to support the inspection and monitoring department which is at the center of school reopening.
Alex Kakooza said that, Accordingly the capitation grants expenditure guidelines, 50 percent of the grant is supposed to be used on instructional materials, 30 percent on co-curricular activities, 15 percent spent on school management, maintenance, payment for utilities such as water and electricity whereas 5 percent on school administration.
The funds are released every quarter in any given financial year.
However, there are worries that the funds might take more time to be accessed and eventually used by the schools.
Filbert Baguma, the Uganda National Teachers’ Association general secretary says that the delay will impact the enforcement of standard operating procedures for the schools and that some public schools may not obtain certificates of compliance before the official reopening.
The capitation grants are computed based on school enrollment. The government provides 10,000 Shillings for each pupil under the Universal Primary Education (UPE).
Those under Universal Secondary Education are allocated 41,000 Shillings and 85,000 Shillings for O’ and A’level respectively. This is in addition to a block grant of 100,000 Shillings per term.
During the COVID-19 lockdown, the Ministry of Finance asked schools to return funds they had received for the second term in the fourth quarter of the 2019/2020 financial year and halted the release of funds moving forward.
The development ignited debate in public and government-aided schools with school heads arguing that the suspension of physical teaching didn’t mean that the schools had indefinitely closed.
The headteachers at that time argued that schools remained to function and had to clear utility bills and paying some staff who are not on the payrolls like school guards. However, their outcry fell on deaf ears.