Uganda: Private Schools Ask Government to Halt New Registration

Private schools have asked government not to demand operating licences from them in order to enable them first handle the reopening of schools for candidate classes next month.

This week, Ministry of Education recalled all old registration certificates of private secondary schools and that they will require new ones.

"This Financial year 2020/2021, the ministry had planned to recall old certificates of private secondary schools in a phased manner starting with Kampala and the wider central region with effect from September 2020," the ministry said in a press statement.

"A team of officers will visit each sub-county on scheduled dates to receive and validate all documents relating to registration of each private secondary school in the areas," the statement adds.

However, heads of private schools have protested, saying the timing is unfavourable given that they are still struggling to implement the stringent standard operating procedures (SOPs) that they are required to put in place before schools reopen.

Mr Hasadu Kirabira, the chairperson of private achools and institutions in Kampala, said the process of acquiring a new registration certificate involves extra costs.

"The Ministry of Education should first let us handle the reopening of schools before we start handling the issue of the registration certificates.

This can wait, but the reopening of schools cannot. We ask the ministry to list for us what is required for the new process. We shall look into them after reopening schools," Mr Kirabira said.

He also asked government to decentralise the process of acquiring registration certificates instead of requiring all heads of schools to go to the Ministry of Education headquarters in Kampala.

"It is a bad timing and we shall not give it attention until we reopen our schools for candidates. If we abide by the policy of fresh registration, it will divert us from preparing our schools for the children. We shall later sit with the ministry officials and engage them on the way forward," the director of Kings Schools, Mr Joseph Kiggundu, said.

Ms Barbara Ofwono, the director of Victorious Schools, said demanding new registration certificates at the time of reopening after six months of closure is unfair.

"We do not oppose the ministry to inspect schools and offer new registration certificates because a lot has changed. This exercise should be given more time," Ms Ofwono said.

Mr Alex Kakooza, the ministry's Permanent Secretary, said he would consult other officials about the matter and give a feedback.

Mr Kiggundu said schools will not hike schools fees when they reopen due to the pandemic effect.

He urged schools to rather invite parents and discuss how to pay the fees when schools reopen, instead of increasing the charges.

"It will be madness for schools to hike tuition when everyone is struggling to raise what to eat. I met parents over the weekend and we agreed on how to pay the school fees when the schools reopen," Mr Kiggundu said.

Ms Ofwono said although schools are incurring extra costs to implement SOPs, they will not pass on them to the parents.

"We shall manage to operate with the little we shall have as we operate in losses. If you look at the SOPs we are implementing, they are very expensive and we had not quoted them in the previous school fees but we have nothing to do," she added.

Source: The Monitor