Led by the Minister of State for Planning David Bahati and the Minister of State for Higher Education John Chrysostom Muyingo, the officials appeared to justify the need for government to procure 9 million radio set receivers as one of the strategies of supporting long-distance learning given that schools are closed due to Covid-19 pandemic.
Officials from the Ministry of Education and Sports
have today failed to persuade legislators sitting on Parliament’s Budget
Committee on the proposed expenditure of Shillings 336.8 billion to purchase
radio sets for all homesteads in the country.
Led by the Minister of State for Planning David
Bahati and the Minister of State for Higher Education John Chrysostom Muyingo,
the officials appeared to justify the need for government to procure 9 million
radio set receivers as one of the strategies of supporting long-distance
learning given that schools are closed due to Covid-19 pandemic.
The Budget Committee Chairperson Amos Lugoloobi
together with other MPs tasked the officials to explain whether the procurement
process had been based on an assessment survey to establish the need for radios
as a model for teaching and their practicability in facilitating learning.
The legislators also sought answers on whether the
Ministry of Education had conducted a survey to establish the impact of the
previous methods of learning for example printed education materials to
establish their success.
//Cue in: “explain why we…
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Alex Kakooza, the Education Ministry Permanent
Secretary said that although the procurement of radios has been placed, they
have not yet signed the contract due to the absence of funds.
The Permanent Secretary said that 5 million radio
receivers are to be procured locally and supplied to homesteads after 60 to 90
days of signing of the contract. The committee also learnt that the remaining 4
million radio receivers to be imported would be delivered by December 2020 (2
million) and January 2021 (2 million).
Documents before the Budget Committee indicate that
the imported radios will be supplied by four companies at different unit costs
including Shillings 33, 925, Shillings 35,435, Shillings 38,000 and Shillings
42,182 inclusive of taxes. The locally procured radios are to be supplied at a
unit cost of Shillings 37,465.
In regard to the practicability of using radios
given that many homesteads have more than one learner, Kakooza said that the
radios will be provided a schedule of the lessons to be conducted on radio and
that this program for delivering lessons has been scheduled in a way that
accommodates the various learners.
//Cue in: “the second thing…
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Responding to queries on the power sources for the
radios given that the target population has impoverished people who may fail to
afford dry cells, Kakooza said that the solar system specified on the radios is
of mono crystalline material and they will not need to be put under direct sun
//Cue in: “these radios have…
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The Permanent Secretary noted that the World Bank
had carried out a study and established that teaching through radios was
possible. However, a document he presented to the committee to support his
argument was disregarded after the Chairperson Amos Lugoloobi noted that it was
only highlighting countries were radios are used for learning.
But MPs insisted that they cannot approve the
proposed budget until the Ministry carries out a needs assessment. West Budama
South MP, Richard Othieno said that Parliament could not approve procurements
He questioned how the Ministry would manage the
project worth 336 billion Shillings when it failed to manage the printing of
education materials worth 40 billion Shillings.
Bulamogi County MP Kenneth Lubogo also wondered why
government was procuring 9 million radio sets yet 4 million households already
have radios. He instead proposed that the ministry uses the money to purchase
soap, temperature guns and sanitizers for schools that are struggling.
Kasese Woman MP Winifred Kiiza asked when the
Ministry intends to start teaching when the last batch of radios is expected in
January. Dokolo Woman MP Cecilia Ogwal also raised more questions in regard to
lack of research for the program to guide the ministry as opposed to other
“The supply will be in December at the height of political
campaigns. Who will monitor this? We are only leading people into temptations,”
In his explanation, Minister Bahati said that
statistics from Uganda Bureau of Statistics (UBOS) indicate that out of the 8.9
million homesteads, only 4.3 million have access to radios. He hastened to add
that given this situation, Cabinet resolved to buy radio receivers for all
homesteads so that there is no any excuse that students failed to learn.
Bahati reported that the required budget would be
financed through a bigger 6.2 trillion Shillings loan request recently tabled
before parliament to finance a budget deficit. The loan is currently being
scrutinized by Parliament’s National Economy Committee.
Minister Muyingo noted that home learning had become
the new norm and even without Covid-19, there is need to be prepared. Muyingo’s
statement about scientists indicating that Covid-19 was still with us was shot
down by members who tasked him to explain what would happen to the radios
incase a vaccine is discovered and children go back to schools.
Lugoloobi ruled that the Ministry responds to all
the committee questions in writing and that this will help them generate
consensus on the matter in their report to Parliament.