Fix poor inspection of private schools

Report this week that 1,500 schools operate illegally in Kampala and Wakiso districts is inconceivable. How can 712 nursery, 439 primary, and 95 secondary schools operating in Wakiso not be known and traced in the Ministry of Education and Sports information management system database? On the contrary, how can the ministry have 92 schools registered in its database yet these ‘ghost’ schools cannot be traced in Kampala and Wakiso?

These inconsistent figures beg more questions that ministry of Education should answer to fix the anomalies. First of all, if these data were compiled in 2013, how did this large number of 1,500 extra schools creep up unnoticed in one year? Does it mean Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA) and Wakiso District have not inspected their schools, yet they are required to do so at least twice a year? Has the ministry adopted hands-off model in managing the education system in the districts?

This surprise mapping of schools and the gaps cited show the authorities in KCCA and Wakiso are sleeping on their jobs. Also, the vast disconnect between the districts and the ministry shows the tragic freewheeling operation of the management of Uganda’s education system.

Surely, such laissez-faire approach would be devastating for government-aided schools as capitation grants would have been sunk into bottomless pits. When such a situation obtains in Kampala and Wakiso, how much worse should school inspection be in remote corners of Uganda?
On a positive note, this pilot project to map all schools and unearth ghost schools, pupils and teachers, is great.

But for it to work better, the ministry should review its functions of decentralised registration and licensing of schools, and ensure cooperation of local officials to accurately document schools in existence, closed or relocated. Only then can records be reconciled.

Similarly, it is not enough to blame the mess squarely on mushrooming private schools. The ministry should cut down the bureaucracy in licensing and registration of private schools.

Likely, there are cases of schools that could have rushed to operate instead of wait for the needlessly time-consuming procedures of approval by government, as cited by in-charge of research at National Private Education Institutions Association Mr Asadu Kirabira.

Also, there could have also been cases where schools could have opted to shift the centre of operations elsewhere from registered bases.

Over all, Uganda Education Private Schools Association should sort out its disagreements on its governance with the ministry. This should impart more vigour, better supervision, and harmonise inspection of schools, provide dependable data, and improve quality of education.

SOURCE: Daily Monitor

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