20 NEW VISION, Wednesday, July 16, 2014

MWALIMU

NEW VISION, Wednesday, July 16, 2014

UNDERFUNDING hits free primary education

Government reacts

UPE budget trends

UPE enrollment trends
10

Number of pupils

8

By Pascal Kwesiga
When Hajji Swaibu Kawooya joined
Police Children’s School in Kampala
as the head teacher in February this
year, he found an enrollment total
of 1,116 pupils, a number which has
increased by 100 pupils. However,
this enrollment increase has not been
reciprocated with an increase in the
capitation grant.
He says for over two years now, most
Universal Primary Education (UPE)
schools like his, have been receiving
the same amount of money regardless
of whether their pupil population
increases or not. This has left them
struggling to survive.
Kawooya adds that over time, as head
teachers, they have lost track of the
exact amount allocated to each pupil,
since the figure changes every year.
“We always submit monthly reports
to the district, which should be used
when planning for such key issues
as capitation grants. But our data
provided is of less use, since it never
tallies with the amount we receive,” he
explains.
But Kawooya hastens to add that
as head teachers, they have been
deployed in these schools as managers
and have to make sure all is well, with
or without more capitation, much as
the enrollment keeps growing.
Issue at hand
Kawooya’s dilemma is sweeping
through
thousands
of
public
primary schools all over the country.
These schools under the universal
primary
education
programme,
are not receiving the right amount
of capitation grants to match their
growing pupil population. More so,
schools are receiving slightly above
half of what they are indeed promised
by the Government, according to
investigations done by Mwalimu.
When the Government abolished
fees for primary education in 1997,
it committed itself to paying sh7,506
per pupil each year. Technocrats had
proposed sh10,000 for each pupil, but
Government did not buy the idea due
to inadequate funds.
Now 17 years later, the Government
has not yet fulfilled its commitment of
sh7,560 per pupil.
The closest they came to this figure
was only once in the 2012/2013
financial year when they paid sh7,046
per pupil. More striking is that indeed,
the education ministry plans for
sh7,000 and not the agreed sh7,560.
Statistics from the education ministry
indicate that the Government, since

The commissioner for education planning and
policy analysis, Godfrey Dhatemwa agrees that
the government does not pay sh7, 000 per pupil
because it’s small resource envelope. “That is true
because money is not enough. We provide what
is available,” He added that the ministry presents
the budget frame work papers at the beginning of
each financial year with a list of pupils and money
required to pay for them, but capitation funds
released to school managers does not correspond
with the numbers.
“We even have special inter-ministerial meetings
during which we present these issues but the
problem that the government resources envelop is
small,” Dhatemwa said.
He admitted that the limited capitation grant has
serious implications on the learners. “ Its capitation
that runs the schools and there are a number of
activities that have to be done using that money,”
Dhatemwa added “It’s used to buy supplementary
reading materials, repairing and replacing broken
desks, fund co-curricular activities and others,” he
explains.
In the absence of enough money to fund the
schools’ activities, Dhatemwa said “School
managers have to cut on the number of these
activities and may be have three supplementary
reading materials and one football. Managers have
to decide how to use that money,” Dhatemwa adds.
However, the secretary to the treasury, Keith
Muhakanizi, says the issue of inadequate funding
does not arise. Muhakanizi denies that Government
could provide as low as sh4, 500 as the total cost
unit for a pupil for a year in a UPE school.
“There is no little funding. That is in your mind.
But apart from that, you are a liar; we have never
paid sh4,000,” he added. He adds that the focus
should not be about the amount of money, but how
to use the amount that is received.
“The problem is not money. What is failing free
primary education by the way is that teachers in
government schools are not teaching but teachers
in private schools are teaching,” he added.
Additional reporting by Gloria Nakajubi

Graphics by Brian Ssekamatte

On average UPE
schools have been
receiving sh5,516
as capitation grant
per pupil annually,
instead of sh7,506.
However, the
finance ministry
disputes the sh5,516
figure. But who is
telling the truth?

7.35m

7.63m

8.45m
8.29m 8.37m 8.09m 8.32m
7.96m
7.37m 7.22m 7.36m 7.53m

6.5m

6

5.4m

4
2.9m

2 1997

1998

1999

2002

2003 2004

2005

2006 2007 2008

2009 2010

2011

2012 2013

Years
Pupils attending class while seated on the floor. Fifteen percent of the capitation grants is meant for school maintenance
the inception of the programme, has
been paying capitation fees for each pupil
ranging from sh4,500 to 6,500 per year.
Why schools get grants
The capitation grants are computed based
on school enrollment with each pupil
getting sh7,560 a year in addition to a block
grant of sh100,000 per term.
According to the Capitation Grants
expenditure guidelines, 50% of the grant
is supposed to be used on instructional
materials; 30% on co-curricular activities
(sports, clubs etc.). Fifteen percent is
allocated for school management (school
maintenance, payment for utilities such as
water and electricity) and five per cent on
school administration.
The funds are released on a quarterly
basis in any given financial year. But, at
the end of the financial year, each pupil is

supposed to be allocated sh7,560.
During these years the Government sent
sh4,500 to schools for each pupil, it meant
that it paid sh1,500 for each pupil to keep
at school per term. But, this amount of
money per pupil may hardly repair just one
desk in a school. But part of the problem,
emanated from low Government funding
for free primary education, allotted to the
education ministry. Statistics show that
government has been allocating between
sh30b to sh45b as capitation grant for the
UPE programme each financial year.
More statistics show that the education
ministry did not receive the money it needed
for UPE between 2002 and 2012. For
example, according to the education budget
of 2006/2007, over sh46b was required for
UPE, but only sh32bn was approved, and
only sh30bn was released. The cumulative

You are a liar;
we have never
paid sh4,000 –
Muhakanizi
budget shortfall for UPE between 2002 and
2012 stands at over sh111b. This means the
education ministry has to use the available
little money to pay for all children, which
creates variability in the unit cost for each
pupil because enrollment figures change
every year. Much as the education ministry
is not receiving all the funds it requires for
running of free primary education, for the

last half a decade, they have been one of
those ministries receiving the lion’s share of
the national budget. But there is evidence
to show that its percentage off the national
budget has been declining in the last two
financial years.
Just like other Government programmes,
UPE faces funding shortfalls if Uganda
Revenue Authority fails to hit its projected
tax collections, which inform budgeting
processes. As the funding reduces partly
due to the reduction in foreign aid to
education programmes in the Sub-Saharan
Africa, the population is growing much as
the drop-out rate is also high.
With foreign aid reducing and the
controversy of providing lunch, last year, it
became official for schools to charge lunch
fees, if parents cannot provide food to their
children; but no child should be expelled
in case he cannot pay it.

UPE budget trends
YEARS
2002/03
2003/04
2004/05
2005/06
2006/07
2007/08
2008/09
2009/10
2010/11
2011/12

REQUIRED APPROVED RELEASED SHORTFALL
5.69b
40.34b
46.03b
41.53b
8.34b
39.51b
47.85b
41.53b
15.2b
31.8b
47b
33.5b
13.77b
32.5b
46.27b
33.49b
15.9b
30.8b
46.7b
32.8b
17.1b
30.3b
47.4b
33.5b
9.14b
38.96b
48.1b
41.01b
11.34b
38.96b
50.3b
41.01b
9.19b
41.01b
50.2b
41.01b
5.86b
43.4b
49.26b
44.78b

THE PUBLIC REACTS TO CAPITATION GRANTS’ RELEASES

Such UPE pupils need more support to
excel in their studies

A parent, Michael Musinguzi says
the UPE policy should be reviewed to
allow the parents contribute toward
the education of their children
since UPE funding has proved
unsustainable. He suggests the
programme should be restricted only
to slums in urban centres.
“The government should
concentrate on paying teachers’
salaries,” Musinguzi explains.
Lawrence Bategeka, an
independent principal research
fellow said UPE was a brilliant idea
that would have gone a long way in
eradicating illiteracy, but, was ruined
by politics.
The politicisation of UPE, according
to Bategeka, created an impression
in parents that the duty of educating
children had shifted to the state and
that their responsibility was reduced
to producing babies.
“They took teachers who charged
extra fees to RDCs (Resident District
Commissioners). Even sh7, 000 is

not enough for a pupil for a year,” he
said.
But he hastened to add that
funding to UPE could be influenced
by government priorities. “If the
priority of a country is security, it
will come first and education will be
second.”
An economist, who did not want
to be named, says that even the
sh7,560 is not enough. “If somebody
promised to educate your child at
sh20,000 per year would you be
happy? I would be extremely worried
about the type of education my child
is going to receive,” he said.
A teacher at a city primary school
says the delay in sending capitation
grant worsens the already bad
situation. “You need money to run a
school, but there are times when the
school does not have any coin,” he
adds.
Much as Government should be
credited for constructing classrooms,
increasing teachers’ pay, more needs

to be done to improve the physical
facilities.
Currently, pupils at Kyempisi and
Karongo primary schools in Masindi
district can hardly take down notes
since they place the books on their
laps in crowded classrooms due to
lack of desks.
At Kisanja Primary School in the
same district, pupils are currently
taking lessons under tree sheds
because the roof of the school
was blown away by a storm. In the
neighbouring Kiryandongo district,
some pupils are studying in grass
thatched halls. There are many such
cases across the country.
The Government allowed public
schools in urban centres to charge
sh10,000 per pupil as payment for
water, electricity and phones.
The amount of money urban
schools collect from pupils as utility
fees is far higher than capitation
grant sent to the schools by the
Government. “We volunteered to

pay this money for the learning
of our children. You cannot leave
the education of your child to the
Government alone,” a parent says.
A ministry of education official on
condition of anonymity proposes
that, UPE should be restricted to
rural primary schools or communities
where parents can hardly afford
tuition fees.
He also suggests that the
programme be restricted to rural
areas and regions with a higher
number of people living below the
poverty line.
“The current budget for UPE
cannot serve the whole country.
Just like you can buy a range rover
car with a budget of a premio car,
you cannot deliver quality education
without money,” he adds.
Abdul Matovu, the head teacher
at Biina Muslim Primary School in
Kampala, said capitation grant is not
consistent.
“The amount of money they send

for each pupil keeps changing
and this affects planning because
you cannot do everything you are
supposed to do,” said a head teacher
of a school in Luzira, on condition of
anonymity.
“We are always stressed and
complaining all the time. For example,
if I wanted to have mid-term exams,
I have to buy them with my money
from Kampala Capital City Authority
and that is the stress I am talking
about.”
The head teacher says they
have failed to track the amount of
capitation grant the school gets per
year because they are not issued
with bank payment slips.
“You just find little money on the
bank account and there is no way you
can know if that is the right amount
of money meant for your school or
not. We are not doing what we are
supposed to do and that is why we
are stressed all the time,” the head
teacher lamented.

25

Sh7,506

The amount of money the
Government committed to
pay per pupil each year when
school fees for primary was
abolished it 1997.

AMOUNT OF MONEY GOVT PAYS FOR EACH PUPIL ANNUALLY
Target for all years: 7,000/=
Years
2002/03
2003/04
2004/05
2005/06
2006/07
2007/08
2008/09
2009/10
2010/11
2011/12
2012/13

Approved
6, 316/=
6,076/=
4,993/=
5,067/=
4,923/=
4,941/=
5,968/=
5,707/=
5,718/=
6,364/=

Released
6,135/=
5,780/=
4,743/=
4,917/=
4,613/=
4,465/=
5,670/=
5,422/=
5,718/=
6,168/=
7,046/=