Mpuuga wants comprehensive plan for education sector

Mpuuga

Leader of Opposition in Parliament Hon. Mathias Mpuuga

The leader of opposition in Parliament Mathias Mpuuga has said there is a need for drafting a comprehensive resurgence plan for the education sector ahead of the scheduled re-opening of educational institutions next year.

According to Mpuuga, the plan should be tabled before parliament immediately detailing the dates of reopening the schools for scrutiny and appropriation of funds.

He also noted that the school inspection program at the Local Government level should also be revamped and adequately funded to ensure a responsive and continued human capital development.

These and other recommendations are carried in Mpuuga’s statement he tabled before Parliament on Tuesday afternoon regarding the current state of the Education Sector.

In his statement, Mpuuga noted that education is a key component for social growth, economic development, and transformation. He, however, notes that the COVID-19 pandemic poses serious threats to access to Education in the country and that innovative solutions are needed to support the sector.

“The lockdowns that were instituted to contain the spread of the pandemic disrupted learning across all levels of education. Pre-primary institutions were completely closed while phased learning was undertaken in primary, secondary, vocational, and tertiary institutions between the 1st and 2nd wave of coronavirus infection,” he said.

Regarding the struggling private schools, Mpuuga recommended that a credit line through Uganda Development Bank (UDB ) be established to support some of the struggling private schools, noting that all nursery schools are completely private and yet are of great value to the education sector. He said that this support should come from the IMF loan equivalent to US$ 1billion.

Recently, the Ministry of Education officials told the Education committee of parliament that the government has established a Small Business Recovery Fund equivalent to Shillings 200 billion to be administered by participating financial institutions across the country to provide concessional credit to businesses affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Minister of State for Higher Education, John Muyingo, and the Minister of State for Planning, Amos Lugoloobi then said that the education sector may also benefit from this intervention.

However, Mpuuga said that given the number of schools requiring financial support, this facility is too insufficient to accommodate the respective loan requests.

Besides the financial support to private schools, the LOP also recommended a review of the taxation policy to offer tax relief to private educational institutions for at least a year.

He also wants the Ministry of Education and Sports to clarify the proposed selective increment of salaries for some categories of teachers.

Also recommended by the Opposition is that public schools should be permitted immediate access to a defined percentage of the releases of capitation grants ahead of time to take care of the much-needed renovations so that the school environment is prepared for teaching and learning.

Mpuuga said that this is premised on the fact that whereas the quarterly release of capitation grants has been ongoing during the lockdown, the money was withheld pending school reopening.

“Disbursement of these withheld funds will help school administrators to pay for outstanding bills and also make procurements required to make schools ready to operate. During this lockdown, schools have faced many cases of vandalization due to lack of security personnel, dilapidation because of lack of maintenance, and a general rundown of the school structures. This same capitation grant should be used to procure hand temperature guns, hand washing soap, and other sanitary facilities like water tanks, which will be used in the adherence of the COVID Standard Operating Procedures –SOPs,” Mpuuga noted.

The Deputy Speaker of Parliament, Anita Among welcomed the alternative policies presented by the Opposition to help the education sector recover from the effects of COVID-19. She however noted that the leaders in the education sector and the President had done well to secure the safety of pupils when the schools reopen.

Joyce Moriku Kaducu, the Minister of State for Primary Education also welcomed the Opposition statement, saying that some of the suggestions are already being addressed by her ministry.

“It’s not one person’s making, it’s not one person’s entity but a collective responsibility. Together we should be able to really ensure that we have a sustainable and safe re-opening of schools,” said Kaducu in part.

She added that at an appropriate time, the Ministry of Education and Sports will issue a statement on the matter. She assured the parliament that come January 10th, 2022, all schools will re-open.

Among emphasized that the alternative recommendations are welcome because they help government close the gaps. She appealed to different leaders to encourage Ugandans to vaccinate so that the country goes back to normal.

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