There is mounting frustration among parents in Uganda at what many consider to be extortionist practices by school owners and administrators in imposing burdensome requirements on top of school fees.
As the first school term of 2017 drew to a close, lists of school requirements started circulating on social media showing that parents were helplessly being made to suffer under the weight of obscene fees and other requirements by government owned as well as private schools.
Some of the traditional government owned schools across Kampala for example have hiked fees for new entrants. Take Kibuli S.S for example, a senior 5 pupil is being charged Ushs1.45m in tuition alone. When you consider other requirements, a parent will part with close to Ushs 2m for three months.
Other schools have disguised the increases in fees by asking parents to pay for a long list of requirements that all together pushes up the parents budget.
But the government does not seem bothered by the plight of parents, despite the huge implications this has on the entire economy, through rising poverty, inequality and access to education. Despite employing profit maximization tactics, schools are not being asked to give back to tax payers through taxes, such income tax, the way other businesses do.
Isa Senkumba, a school proprietor for one of the Schools in Kampala believes too that the unbridled liberalism is hurting parents and the economy at large.
Senkumba argues that the time has come for responsible government officials to rise from slumber and start to regulate the sector so as to slow the cost of education and hence the impact on incomes.
He said: “There is need for a nation-wide policy for schools to define what they use tuition fees for. You find that after a parent has paid fees, he is made to pay for several other things and at the end of the day, the school keeps tuition intact,” adds Senkumba: “They do it in the name of accumulating money.”
The problem however, it appears, most of the officials at the ministry of education who would have introduced regulations to curtail the skyrocketing in school fees, are interested in maintaining the status quo for selfish interests because most of them own schools.
Attempts by The Sunrise to get a response from the Ministry of Education hit a dead end as the PRO was not picking his/her phone.