Parents bear burden of high school fees, Tayebwa calls for govt action

Parents bear burden of high school fees, Tayebwa calls for govt action
Deputy Speaker Thomas Tayebwa

Kampala, Uganda | By Michael Wandati | In a recent session, Deputy Speaker Thomas Tayebwa has expressed strong criticism toward both public and private secondary school proprietors for imposing excessively high school fees on students.

As the new school term commenced this week, media outlets have been inundated with reports on the fee structures of various schools nationwide, revealing some institutions charging fees as exorbitant as Shs 4 million per term.

These revelations have surfaced just ahead of the selection process for Senior One students.

During the House session on Wednesday, February 7, 2024, Tayebwa reiterated the pressing need to address this issue, emphasizing that schools disregarding previous government directives on fee structures should face consequences.

As Uganda schools re-open, parents complain of non-fees requirements
Parents want government to regulate the school requirements.

“This is a matter we have extensively discussed in this House, and I have seen several circulars from government in regard to that matter, giving very clear guidelines, but the situation seems to be getting worse,” remarked Tayebwa.

He directed the Minister of Education and Sports to deliver a comprehensive statement on Tuesday, February 13, 2024, outlining punitive measures against schools that have violated government directives by imposing high school fees.

“It is a very critical matter which I want us to give the due attention it deserves,” Tayebwa emphasized.

He further added, “considering our backgrounds, I am sure most of us if that was the situation, we would not be here. We would not have been able to study and come here,” highlighting the potential adverse impact of exorbitant school fees on students’ educational opportunities.

Factors driving high school fees in Uganda: A closer look at both private and public schools

As the new school term commences in Uganda, concerns surrounding the soaring costs of education have come to the forefront, prompting a detailed examination of the factors contributing to high school fees in both private and public institutions.

Quality and prestige in private schools

Private schools, often seen as providers of superior education, position themselves with a focus on quality and prestige. These institutions invest significantly in qualified teachers, modern facilities, and extracurricular activities, all contributing to elevated operational costs. As a result, the fees charged by private schools are frequently higher to maintain the desired standards and competitive edge.

Independence from government funding

A key distinction between private and public schools lies in their funding sources. Private schools, independent from government funding, must rely entirely on tuition fees to cover operational costs. This financial autonomy, while providing flexibility, can lead to increased fees to sustain the quality of education offered.

Government funding shortfalls impact public schools

In contrast, public schools, despite receiving government funding, often face financial shortfalls that impact their ability to provide quality education. The increased demand for education and population growth exacerbate the strain on resources, forcing public schools to seek alternative means of financial support. Consequently, fees may be raised to compensate for these funding gaps.

Infrastructure and resource needs

Both private and public schools contend with challenges related to infrastructure and resources. The need to invest in modern facilities, technological resources, and additional classrooms is a common factor influencing fee structures in both sectors.

Also Read: As Uganda schools re-open, parents complain of non-fees requirements

Public schools, aiming to improve conditions and accommodate a growing student population, may increase fees to meet these infrastructure and resource needs.

Teacher salaries and quality staff retention

Attracting and retaining qualified teachers is a shared concern for both private and public schools. To ensure stability in their teaching staff, schools may adjust fees to meet the salary demands of competent educators.

Call for government action

In response to the escalating concerns, Deputy Speaker Thomas Tayebwa has criticized the charging of exorbitant school fees, particularly in private schools. Tayebwa has called for government intervention, directing the Minister of Education and Sports to present punitive measures against schools that defy directives on fee structures.

As the nation grapples with the complexities surrounding the cost of education, the conversation on finding a balance between quality and affordability continues to gain momentum. The upcoming statement from the Minister of Education and Sports is eagerly anticipated as stakeholders seek solutions to ensure accessible and quality education for all. Stay tuned for further updates on this evolving issue.