Kabale School on The Spot for Detaining Candidates Over Unpaid Fees

The school director Julius Arineitwe and head teacher, Justus Bataringaya and administrator, Godfrey Asasire reportedly detained Swaleh Junior Mayanja, 13, and Swahaba Selemba, 11, both sons of Swaleh Mayanja after the completion of their Primary Leaving Examinations (PLE) last month for alleged to clear third term tuition worth Shillings 1.64 million.
Detained children (in school uniform) after being rescued (Photo Credit Samuel Amanya)

Audio 5

The management of Victorious Preparatory school in Kabale district is facing criticism from education authorities for detaining two primary seven candidates over unpaid fees.

The school director Julius Arineitwe,  the head teacher Justus Bataringaya and administrator Godfrey Asasire reportedly detained Swaleh Junior Mayanja, 13, and Swahaba Selemba, 11 after the completion of their Primary Leaving Examinations (PLE) last month for alleged failure to clear school dues worth  1.64 million Shillings.

Flavia Ineema Nansubuga, an auntie to the two candidates says that Mayanja tasked her to take care of her nephews since he couldn’t travel with them to Rwanda, where he works because of the COVID-19 restrictions. She explains that after the PLE, she waited for her nephews to return home, a few kilometres from Kabale town in vain.

According to Nansubuga, she decided to check with the school only to be told that the children had been detained because of unpaid fees. She immediately contacted Mayanja, who explained to the school administrators that he was unable to transfer money because of the tension between the two countries. He also pleaded with the school to release the children in vain.

As a result, they decided to file a complaint with the police and the district education department for help. On Monday evening, Muhammad Kyewalyanga, the acting District Police Commander, Enock Hatangimana, the Kigezi Region Police Community Liaisons Officer, Moses Bwengye Tumwijukye, the District Education Officer and Catherine Kyomugisha, the District Inspector of Schools stormed the school demanding an explanation for their action.

Tumwijukye told our reporter that the school administration does not have any mandate to detain children even if their parents have failed to pay their school fees. He says that they compelled the school to release the children and hand them over to Nansubuga after a written commitment ensuring that Mayanja pays the school dues.

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Muhammad Kyewalyanga, the acting Kabale District Police Commander says that it was unlawful for the school management to detain their children because it contravenes their rights. According to him, only the Uganda Police force has the legal mandates to detain people. He however urges parents to explore avenues of settling such matters without exposing innocent children to such pain. 

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The Headteacher, Justus Bataringaya insisted that there is no way the administration could release children without assurance from their parents about the unpaid fees. 

He accused Mayanja of being an irresponsible parent, saying that they decided to hold the children following their previous experience with Mayanja when he failed to clear Shillings 5,100,200 for his daughter who completed PLE at the school.

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