18 NEW VISION, Wednesday, November 5 , 2014

By Andrew Masinde
While most public schools are always
whining about the inadequacy of the
capitation grants they receive under
the Universal Primary Education
(UPE) programme, their counterparts
in private schools say they can even
make a saving if they are given the
same amount.
With the most expensive bills —
classroom construction, furniture,
instructional materials and feeding
being paid by the parents, the private
schools surveyed by Mwalimu say
the sh7,000 paid by the Government
for each child every year is enough
to deliver the curriculum in a day
primary school. They, however, agree
that the challenge with the UPE grant
is that the money is not released on
time, making planning a nightmare.
“For one to deliver the curriculum,
you do not have to spend a lot of
money, more so in a day school,”
argued Julie Nassali, the headteacher
of Glorious Primary School, a private
school in Masanafu, Kampala.
“There are some instructional
materials that the school buys once in
a year. If the schools are given money
for materials that are not required in
a particular term, then they would
actually save a lot of money,” she
Mary Nsangi Kakembo, the director
St. Kizito Junior Primary School,
Namugongo, in Wakiso district, also
agrees that the UPE grant is enough
for what it is meant for.
“The most expensive costs in
running a school are teachers’
salaries, feeding, construction and
maintenance of buildings. But with
these removed, I can save part of the
sh7,000,” said Kakembo.

Schools Surveyed
Mwalimu survey was done in
both Kampala and upcountry
private primary schools. For better
appreciation of the challenges
faced, the survey was done in
three categories of schools; a low
enrolment school with just 200
pupils, a medium level school with
500 pupils and those with over 1,000
Under the UPE programme, the
Government is supposed to pay
sh7,560 for every child per annum
though the amount sent to schools
usually oscillates between sh6,000
and sh7,500.
According to the expenditure
guidelines, 50% or sh3,780 of the
total grant is supposed to be spent on
instructional materials. These include
chalk, charts, blackboards and reams
of paper for examinations etc. For a
school of 600 pupils, this translates
into almost sh2.3m.
The guidelines also stipulate that
30% or sh2,268 is supposed to be
spent on co-curricular activities like


NEW VISION, Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Sh7,000 per pupil is more than
enough, say private schools
Role of school
The school management
committees, the statutory
organs representing the
Government at school level,
are supposed to give overall
direction to the operation of the
school, ensure that schools have
development plans, approve
and manage school budgets,
monitor school finances, and
ensure transparency especially
in use of UPE grants. The school
management committees work
closely with head teachers
who are accountable for all the
money disbursed to schools.

Pupils in a dilapidated classroom at Kamuli Township Primary School in Kamuli district.
Dilapidated structures are characteristic of public schools in Uganda
procurement of sports materials
and equipment; 15% or sh1,134
on the school. This includes light
maintenance works, payment of
utility bills like telephone, water
and electricity. This translates into
sh680,000 a year for a school of
600 pupils. UPE schools in urban
areas are, however, allowed to charge
sh10,400 per child per term to top up
on the utility bills.
The remaining 5% or sh378 of the
grant is supposed to be spent on
administrative activities like travel
expenses and allowances when
a headteacher or teacher goes on
an official assignment or meetings
and refreshments for official visitors
to the school etc. This amounts to
sh226,800 a year for a school of 600
The UPE programme is supposed
to be implemented in partnership
with key stakeholders namely; the
Government through the education
ministry, the local authorities, school
management committees and the

Stakeholders’ role
Implementation Guidelines, the
Government is responsible for hiring
of teachers and payment of their
salaries. It is also responsible for
the provision of textbooks, teachers’
guides; construction of basic school
facilities like classrooms and libraries

Pupils of one of the schools under the UPE programme
studying under a tree

Citizens react

Guidelines on UPE Capitation Funds expenditure


15% 5%
Gladys Kiberu,
a radio presenter
There is never enough
money; it all depends on how
well it is used. Headteachers,
especially those upcountry,
are poor. There is need to
select an independent person
to monitor the manner in
which the headteacher
spends the money.

and supervision of the implementation of
UPE activities.
Parents are supposed to provide
scholastic materials, clothing and meals
for their children and ensure proper
utilisation of UPE funds. They are
also supposed to provide labour for
some school activities like communal
construction of teachers’ houses and
sanitation facilities where necessary.

Dixon Masuba,
ICT specialist
The money sent to UPE
schools is enough because
there requirements that
are not procured by the
school every term. A serious
headteacher just needs to
set priorities. When private
schools say it is enough, I
believe them.

Becky Nsubuga,
nurse at Naguru Teenage
The sh7,000 would be
enough if the schools
used it for the intended
purposes. Some schools
spend the money on items
that are never budgeted for.
Private schools are frugal.

The local authorities under the
leadership of the chief administrative
officers (CAOs) and the lower
administrative structures are responsible
for ensuring prompt disbursement of
capitation grants to the schools and
ensuring proper accountability. They are
supposed to brief the district councils
on the implementation of the UPE

The sub-county chiefs are supposed to
make regular visits to schools, implement
local government bye-laws on UPE, keep
a record of both pupils and teachers in
the sub-county, submit regular reports on
education to the CAOs, ensure that there
is clean water and proper sanitation in
schools. They also enforce the proper use
and accountability for UPE grants.
The school management committees,



Instructional materials

Source: Ministry of Education and Sports

the statutory organs representing the
Government at school level, are supposed
to give overall direction to the operation
of the school.
With other costs met by the various
stakeholders, the
proprietors say the annual UPE grant
is enough. The expenditure analyses
indicate that the more the pupils, the
more the savings since costs of certain

instructional materials like chalk,
blackboard, duster and charts remain the
same irrespective of the numbers. They
say about 95% of the school expenditure
goes to physical infrastructure, feeding,
teachers’ salaries, textbooks and furniture.
Although headteachers of UPE
schools claimed that the funds were not
enough, no school among those visited
by Mwalimu was willing to declare its

detailed expenditure.
Most of the schools, according to
Mwalimu’s analysis spend the capitation
grant funds on items that are out of the
UPE expenditure guidelines; a reason
they may be claiming that the funds are
not enough.
At Bupadengo Primary School in
Kamuli district, which seems to be
operating on the periphery of its budget,
the head teacher Godfrey Sajjabi said they
sometimes buy commodities on credit.
“To Government auditors, this is
unacceptable during accountability,” he

Another school struggling with low
funding, with no definite explanation of
their spending, is Kigweri Primary School
in Buyende district. Put against the
UPE expenditure guidelines, Kakembo
says her school, which has 500 pupils
and a teaching staff of 15, would spend
around sh2.8m a year on administration,
co-curricular activities and pedagogy
delivery. With 500 pupils, Kakembo
would be getting an annual grant of
sh3.78m if her school was under UPE.
“I would be saving a lot of money
because there are items we buy once after
a year or two,” she says.
Kakembo, a former state minister for
gender and children’s affairs, says their
school spends sh85,000 on a ream of
manila paper and this takes them for over
a year.
“We buy dusters once after two or three
years and this costs us sh40,000,” she
“For blackboards, the procurement is
once and thereafter, all you need is to
paint it after every two years or so. In a
term, the school uses two cartons of chalk
and that is because we always have extra
lessons. We spend sh130,000 on chalk


Way forward

Spend the UPE funds carefully
Former education minister Geraldine Namirembe Bitamazire says
there is no money that is enough; it is all about how you use it. She
says UPE schools should stop complaining about the grant and instead
prioritise their expenditure.
“I do not think they buy all the materials every
term. Take the example of blackboards,
dusters, manila papers, and MDD kits; You
can buy these once after a year or more.
So where does that money go?” asks
Bitamazire, popularly known as Mama UPE.
“I believe the private schools know the
priorities and that is why they believe
the sh7,000 could work for them. This is
the same mentality the UPE schools should
adopt. The administrators should be enrolled
in some sort of management skills such that
they learn how to spend on priorities
because the Government has many
urgent issues to work on,” she

Namirembe Bitamazire
and another sh100,000 on blue and red
pens for the teachers.
Kakembo also says in a year, the
school spends sh27,000 on table glue,
sh100,000 on markers; sh12,000 on
staplers which can serve for over five
years depending on the handling;
sh84,000 on staples; sh5,000 on white
wash; sh13,000 on a ream of carbon
paper; sh2,000 on rubbers; sh10,000 on
masking tape; sh84,000 on scheme of
work books; sh45,000 on double-ruled
papers and sh2,500 on sellotape.
With urban schools allowed to charge
sh10,400 for utilities, Kakembo says she
would still make a saving because she
spends sh1.1m on water and electricity
At Glorious Primary School which has
200 pupils, Nassali says they use three
cartons of chalk, one coloured, which
costs them about sh50,000 a term. They
spend sh98,000 on eight boxes of pens
both blue and red and sh65,000 on
manila papers and a similar amount on
marker pens.
Nassali says every term, she spends
sh133,000 on scheme of work books for
her 19 teachers and about sh200,000
and sh300,000 respectively on water and
electricity. She says expenditure on sports
activities is once in a while because some
of the kits last for years.
A director of a school with over 1,400
pupils says he would save between
sh3m-sh3.5m annually if he was given
the grant.
“I spend between sh6m and sh7.4m
per year on those items,” said the director.
“So with sh7,000 per pupil per year, that
would be around sh10m. I would be
saving some good money. I have never
spent sh10m on those items and other
administrative activities. My budget is

less because there are materials that I
buy once in three years – dusters, manila
paper, and chalk boards — so the money
for these would be spent on improving
the school,” added the director.
He said he is very frugal. “I only buy
quality items that last long and those
strictly needed by the school,” he says.
For sports and other co-curricular
activities, the director says they buy the
equipment once in a while because they
insist on quality and proper storage.
Music costumes, for instance, he says,
they have now been used for four years.
“The teacher in charge of sports is
responsible for proper storage of the
sports kits and costumes. Whenever the
pupils are not using the kits, they are
neatly kept in the stores. Once these
are procured, the only money you need
thereafter is to pay the trainers and to
transport the pupils for sports events,
which in most cases, is once a year,” he

Problem source
Both technocrats and proprietors of
private schools say the biggest challenge
is rigidity in UPE expenditure guidelines
which leaves loopholes for pilfering and
lack of enforcement of accountability.
They also say some headteachers are
not frugal. “Headteachers of government
schools simply need to learn proper
management skills,” says a proprietor of
a chain of private schools.
“They need to learn how to spend on
priorities. Ministry officials should be
strict on the schools by demanding for
proper accountability. That is what I do in
my schools,” he says.

Ministry speaks out
The Minister of Education and
Sports, Jessica Alupo, says
schools should be patient and
frugal with the UPE grant.
“That is what the private
schools are doing.
“Some private schools have
a good relationship with the
parents and they have come up
to support. And in most UPE
schools, this relationship is
lacking,” said Alupo.
complaints — of inadequate
funding – from the schools. We

shall collaborate with the United
Nations Education, Scientific and
Cultural Organisation (UNESCO)
to carry out a survey in the
schools to find out if the money
we send to them is enough or
not,” explains Alupo.
Alupo says after the survey,
they will come up with a summary
of how much each child needs.
“As per now, I cannot say the
sh7,000 is not enough because
a review was done before we
started the programme,” she