The school deputy headteacher in charge of academics, Peter Ndagiire, reasons that the current economic crisis coupled with a poor harvesting season has forced many parents to withdraw their children from private schools because they could not afford school fees and other mandatory requirements.
Government aided schools in Bunyangabu district have continued to register many new learners from private schools since the beginning of the second term.
Some of the school administrators say that in some classes they have more learners they can accommodate and yet parents continue flocking to their schools seeking vacancies for their children. They add that pre-primary schools have also lost many of their continuing learners because many parents have decided to move them to primary.
Rwimi primary school has registered more than 100 new learners this term with the majority coming from private schools around the town council. The school deputy headteacher in charge of academics, Peter Ndagiire, reasons that the current economic crisis coupled with a poor harvesting season has forced many parents to withdraw their children from private schools because they could not afford school fees and other mandatory requirements.
Unlike other terms where the school loses learners mainly to private schools, Ndagiire says the school has retained all the pupils.
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However, they say the increment in the number of pupils comes with several challenges such as limited classrooms and latrines yet the government policy requires that all learners must be admitted. He thinks the school would surpass the 1000 learner's mark because many parents are currently struggling to keep their children in school.
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The headteacher of Kyakatabazi primary school, Edith Kabalende says there is a drastic increase in the number of new learners at the school, especially in the lower classes.
She told the URN that in primary one alone the enrollment has increased from 93 pupils in the last term to 182 this term forcing the school to temporarily use the staff room as an additional classroom.
She attributes this increase to a number of factors but majorly because parents could not afford the requirements of private schools while others chose to push their nursery children to primary.
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The school management committee sat last week and resolved to employ some teachers on temporary terms. However, Kabalende decries the congestion in classes, which affects proper learning.
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The situation is similar for Kinyamutale primary school in Rwimi Sub County where the school has registered eight new learners in the second term for the first time.
The Deputy Headteacher, Betty Tumuhamye, says that the new learners are from private schools. She explains that parents failed to raise school fees in their former schools while others had transferred to the area.
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Tumuhamye, however, says that parents are not supportive, and as such the school relays only on capitation grants to operate. She is also unhappy that many parents have neglected their responsibilities including packing food and buying scholastic materials for their children.
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Edward Tuhaisem, the headteacher of Riwmi Secondary School, says that they anticipated having more learners this term given the way the community is struggling to live. He says parents have even failed to honor their resolution to contribute some money towards preparing food for their children on account of lack of money.
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At Kasunganyanja primary school in Kibito Subcounty, the headteacher John Bosco said that they had had more new learners than when schools re-opened after the lockdown in January this year.
Forty new learners were admitted and of these 15 are from private schools around the sub-county. He said that many parents lost their businesses during the COVID-19 lockdown and as such, they could not maintain previous social and economic standards.
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Willy Mugisa, the Director of Rwimi Parents primary school, says that private schools have also provided a parent-led approach where they can pay fees and provide other materials with convenience. But he says, unlike the government, the school cannot allow learners in class without making any payment, or else the school would fail to meet its operational costs.
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Shamillah Kemigisa opted to transfer her two sons to Bunjojo government primary school because she couldn't raise the initial fees installment required by their former school.